Tags: Tom Coburn | Democrats | Lindsey Graham | Republicans | U.S. Senate

Principled Coburn's Departure a Loss to Senate

Thursday, 30 October 2014 12:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As the end of the year approaches you’re going to be hearing both Democrats and Republicans lavish extravagant, bipartisan praise on Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, a man formerly known unfondly as “Dr. No.”

Why the change of heart? Coburn’s leaving the Senate this term and leftist Democrats and RINO Republicans will be free to return to their big–spending ways, without fear that Coburn will expose their profligacy with tax dollars.

These warm wishes for a speedy farewell are significantly different from the reception Coburn received when he entered the Senate in 2004.

Coburn was an obstetrician in Muskogee, Okla., in 1994 when he first ran for Congress. He won a close election in a district Bill Clinton never had trouble carrying. Yet Coburn was re–elected twice as an Oklahoma conservative who wanted to cut the budget, restrict abortion and fight America’s cultural slide.

Coburn is one of those rare elected officials who consistently stick to his principles rather than being principally concerned with sticking in office. He entered Washington, D.C. as one of the Contract With America congressmen that took back the House from decades of Democratic Party rule.

He made a name for himself as someone who was not afraid to confront House Speaker Newt Gingrich when he thought the slippery Georgian was too accommodating to big spenders and big government cheerleaders. Coburn did his best to reduce spending and was instrumental in passing the landmark welfare reform that the Obama administration has done so much to undermine.

Then Coburn did something that made him a marked man as far as the other incumbent barnacles on the ship of state were concerned. After three terms in the House he kept his term limits pledge and did not run for re–election, just as he promised Oklahoma voters.

Nothing makes one more unpopular with elected–for–life politicians than setting a good example, so Coburn was not welcomed with open arms in the Senate. After Democrats took over Coburn became the target of an ethics complaint in an effort to stop him from delivering babies in his practice back home.

Coburn could have avoided all this unpleasantness if he had grown in the Senate and become a late–term abortionist who planned to die in office. Democrats would’ve been happy to spring for a new set of sterling sliver abortion scissors and pre–printed "health of the mother" forms. But if he’d done that he wouldn’t be Tom Coburn, he’d be Barack Obama.

Politico covered the story and Coburn’s response to this petty harassment was to ignore it. “On my own time, I’m taking care of women who have a need, and I’m going to continue to deliver babies. I don’t bill anything. I’m not going to stop.”

He essentially dared the ethics committee to sanction him, at which time he planned to demand a hearing before the full Senate and ask if  at risk women should be denied his care? Coburn was confident the sunlight of public attention would cause those Senate cockroaches to scurry back under their rocks.

And nothing did happen, but Coburn didn’t stop using sunshine to expose the inner workings of the Senate.

He is most noted for his annual "Wastebook". This year, according to The Washington Times, the 239–page book contains “$25 billion in waste from 100 projects.”

And if he wasn’t already unpopular enough, Coburn sticks another finger in the eye of the Lindsey Grahams of the world by pointing out wasteful spending in his own state. This year it’s a grant of $500,000 to help reservation Indians raise and sell butterflies.

Accepting a government grant to raise butterflies after the white eyes killed all the buffalo looks like a poor trade to me anyway. But Coburn’s investigation found it’s a bad deal for the taxpayer, too. The tribe had no interest in butterflies, caterpillars — except when they attacked the tomatoes — or cocoons until they learned the feds would pay them to be interested.

In contrast to the slightly revolting caterpillar that metamorphoses into the beautiful butterfly, the creepy government bureaucrat never manages to transform himself into an efficient executive. The $500,000 allocated to butterfly natal care was enough to buy every member of the tribe a starter kit, a free pollen injection and still have over $300,000 left over

Coburn hopes someone else will follow his example take over publication of the Wastebook after he leaves. The temptation is great for conservatives to urge Coburn to stay in office and continue his good work — but travel very far down that path and you see Joe Biden waiting at the end of the trail.

If we can no longer produce effective, ethical citizen–legislators that view public office as a term–limited duty, then there is little hope for us anyway.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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If we can no longer produce effective, ethical citizen–legislators that view public office as a term–limited duty, then there is little hope for us anyway.
Tom Coburn, Democrats, Lindsey Graham, Republicans, U.S. Senate
Thursday, 30 October 2014 12:20 PM
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