Sen. Coburn: Washington Is Like Las Vegas

Image: Sen. Coburn: Washington Is Like Las Vegas

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 01:09 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Sen. Tom Coburn says the power that comes with being a national lawmaker is as corrupting as the temptations in Las Vegas, adding that the way people use their influence reflects their character.

"Las Vegas takes advantage of every weakness that we have. That's what power in Washington does. Power is a tool. And how you use it is a discerning attribute of your character," the Oklahoma Republican said in an interview with The New York Times Thursday.

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He said that the best use of power is to bring people together to solve problems, though he feels his biggest failing in the Senate has been his inability to communicate to change people's minds.

"A third of those on the other side literally can't stand me because they don't like my positions and the way I communicate them," he said, adding that probably the same percentage in his own caucus also probably can't stand him.

Coburn said he also grapples with Congress' low approval ratings, calling it a "crisis of legitimacy."

"We've given up our legitimacy. Legitimacy is about being honest on the issues, not being partisan."

He also criticized President Barack Obama, who he said divided the nation and failed to achieve his stated goal of hope and change because he surrounded himself with too many like-minded people.

Coburn, who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and announced he will be leaving the Senate next January, two years before the end of his term, said he's "feeling good... I've got five or 10 years in front of me even if they don't cure it."

A outspoken critic of both Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Coburn said if he had to choose which to take a long car trip with, Cruz was by far his choice.

"Ted is a good guy," he said. "[Reid] probably wouldn't survive it. I would bore him to death," he said.

Asked if had any liberals on his staff, he replied: "I had some Democrats, but they died."

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