In its quest to lionize Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn as some type of great thinker of our time, The Oklahoman editorial board has offered up for our enlightenment some fancy Coburn witticisms that seem far more crazy than profound.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who at 78 has indicated he plans to run for reelection in 2014, has vowed to stop any efforts in the Senate to pass the minor gun control measures under consideration in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings that left 20 school children and six adults dead.
Coburn and Inhofe represent an outdated, dying set of political beliefs repudiated by President Barack Obama’s convincing reelection in 2012. They rile up the angry home folks here, for sure, but if this state had just 200,000 more college graduates it would never elect anyone even remotely like them.
Let’s start with Coburn. Last Sunday, The Oklahoman editorial page published a commentary that argues, in its clichéd, hackneyed way, “Congress could use more members like Coburn, who puts country first.” He’s not like “The Great Divider,” i.e. Obama. What’s more, “Coburn is willing to make the difficult decisions.” Insightful, no?
To prove its astounding, nonpartisan thesis, the editorial announces: “Today we present Coburn in his own words, about the most pressing concerns of the day.” Sound the trumpets! Drum roll, puhleease. What follows are an assortment of boring, Coburn quotes that mostly just regurgitate the GOP line. Some of them, however, are just plain whacky or seem like typical Republican truth stretchers. Read them for yourselves. I’ve selected a few, not in any certain order, to parse through in this post.
Coburn: “You've got to give him (Obama) credit. He's an ideologue. He actually believes in socialism. He thinks that's the way to solve the problem. And it's an elitist view that says Washington knows better than what the individual family or statesman (does).”
So does essentially labeling Obama a socialist mean he’s making the “difficult decisions” in Washington? No, it proves Coburn is a partisan, who will stoop to hyperbole and name calling to scare people here into voting for Republicans. It’s also a rejection of intellectualism. Coburn has to know what socialism is, and he has to know that Obama is not a socialist.
Coburn: “Government's 89 percent bigger than it was 10 years ago. Personal income's down 5 percent in this country. And they want to claim that we need more government to be able to solve our problems. And the problem is we're incapable of managing the government we have today.”
I tried to find some verification for Coburn’s statement about government growth but failed. I did find somewhat reputable articles that showed the number of government employees has declined under the Obama administration and overall government spending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen by less than 10 percent since 2003. Both articles had conservative bents. Just like the socialist comment, this fancy witticism seems basically untrue.
Coburn: “Start treating health care like every other resource in the country. Create a real market that's transparent, created where payment is connected with the purchase. And American consumers, they're the best buyers in the world at everything else, they will lower the cost of health care.
“Our total care will decline rapidly in this country under the Affordable Care Act, the quality of care — plus we're going to ration Medicare.”
That Coburn wants a commercial health care system that is basically only accountable to “free-market” (free to die) principles is nothing new. But two statements stand out. First, Americans are absolutely NOT the best buyers in the world and they are often manipulated by unscrupulous corporations. Look at the mortgage crisis. Second, and this is more important, there is no movement to “ration Medicare,” certainly not among Democrats. If Medicare would ever be rationed—what does that even mean?—it would be part of a Republican plan to try to end the program altogether. Coburn is trying to scare people.
The editorial also contained some Coburn comments about excessive job programs in Ada that seem exaggerated and, at the very least, needs some verification from the state’s largest newspaper.
In the end, it’s just the same Coburn we’ve always known, taking ideological jabs and distorting facts while hiding under his cover as some bipartisan, fiscal expert. The Oklahoman seems quite content to perpetuate this real hoax among its dwindling readership.
Speaking of hoaxes, that man that once proclaimed that the science underpinning global warming was a type of liberal “hoax” has now turned his attention to gun control. Inhofe, along with other Republican Senators, has vowed to filibuster any gun control measures that come before the Senate. One of the proposals would expand background checks on those who purchase guns.
Obama has made gun control a priority since the Newtown shootings, and a group made up of family members of victims recently visited Washington to meet with Congressional members and push for gun control measures. According to Inhofe, “See, I think it's so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn't.” This is just more Obama bashing, and it lacks basic compassion for those mothers and fathers who lost their children in the shootings.
Inhofe and Coburn continue to base their political platforms on creating as much anti-Obama hysteria in the state as they can and then reaping the benefits of that through constituent support. That’s about the sum total of what they stand for right now. They don’t let truth get in their way, and they are as willing as the next Republican to use the GOP standard talking points.
The Oklahoman commentary that poses Coburn as some type of great thinker of his time is laughable. In fact, the rhetorical love fest does more damage to Coburn than good because it shows just what an ideologue he remains. What’s not laughable is another six-year term for Inhofe, which seems like it’s going to happen.
It’s no surprise that U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn are supporting “legitimate rape” Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, but by doing so they’re bucking many leaders in their own party, including political operative Karl Rove and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
It’s also shouldn’t surprise anyone that Inhofe and Coburn may even share Akin’s weird, unscientific beliefs about rape and women’s reproductive systems, but the conservative corporate media here won’t hold them accountable for their views.
An invitation published over the weekend by Politico showed that Inhofe, Coburn and U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both of South Carolina, are serving as honorary hosts at a Wednesday fundraiser for Akin in Washington. Here’s the invitation:
Tom Carpenter, Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates
Ryan Bradel, Esquire, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Senator Tom Coburn
Senator Jim DeMint
Senator James Inhofe
Senator Lindsey Graham
Invite you to join them at a Luncheon for
U.S. Representative Todd Akin
Republican Nominee for Missouri U.S. Senate
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
710 East Capitol Street, NE, Washington, DC
Suggested Donations: $2,500—Host $1,000 – PACs $500 – Individual $250 – Young Professionals
Todd Akin for US Senate, PO Box 31222, St. Louis, MO 63131
Akin, a Republican, stirred controversy recently when he claimed during an interview that women couldn’t get pregnant during a “legitimate rape” because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." The “legitimate rape” rhetoric has been a part of the anti-abortion movement for some time now, and shows, again, just how extremist and anti-women the movement has become. It implies the radical idea that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape because pregnancy proves the rape was not legitimate.
Akin’s comments were denounced by a wide variety of Republican leaders, including Rove, Christie, Republican presidential Mitt Romney and other GOP leaders. Some GOP leaders even tried to get Akin to step down from his election race against Democrat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, but he refused.
So what does it mean that Inhofe and Coburn are bucking the views of a major political operative and a rising star in their own party? Well, probably not much, and one has to wonder if the intra-fighting isn’t a bit staged so those who need cover—such as Romney—from Akin’s radical views can get it while those who don’t—such as Inhofe and Coburn—can actually help him to win so Republicans can try to take control the Senate.
But what are Inhofe’s and Coburn’s views on the legitimate rape comment and the entire issue itself?
Undoubtedly, there are Oklahomans who share the radical “legitimate rape” views, which are terribly demeaning to women. Overall, the anti-abortion movement in this state has been a major force in state politics for a long time. Inhofe and Coburn risk nothing politically here by backing Akin, and that’s a shame.
To be clear or to state the obvious, rape victims can and do get pregnant.
The obvious election-year theatrics of Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe were pretty much expected, but fulfilling low expectations doesn’t make it right.
Both Republicans, of course, don’t face reelection this year—Coburn has even indicated he won’t run again—and Oklahoma is about as sure to choose Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama as any state in the nation, but that hasn’t stopped them from using their offices recently to score GOP political points.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with supporting the presidential candidate of your own party, but when it’s done under the guise of official U.S. Senate business, well, it’s ugly and a waste of taxpayer money. Don’t expect the conservative corporate media here to do anything but praise the two Senators and ignore the fact they aren’t actually doing anything productive.
Recently, it was Coburn’s time to pretend he was actually doing something when he wasn’t. Coburn recently and rather dramatically lamented on the Senate floor:
America deserves better. It deserves better leadership. It deserves leadership based on bringing this country together rather than dividing this country. Not having a fiscal plan to solve the greatest issues in front of our country is an absolute failure of leadership. Where is the Senate majority leader's, where is the President's plan to solve our problems?
Of course, this is what Coburn probably hopes will be perceived as a bipartisan statement when in fact, it criticizes two Democrats—U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and Obama—for a “failure of leadership” and never mentions Republicans’ failure to compromise on legislation or their open-ended effort to oppose anything proposed by the president.
Coburn’s language not only seems numbingly shallow, it also only solidifies the partisan gridlock. It’s sheer political hyperbole, and its intent is to only increase votes for GOP candidates this election year.
The statement can be found on Coburn’s official web site. Ironically, right beneath it is a press release that explains why Coburn opposed a veterans jobs bill. Coburn’s rambling statement on the Senate floor included this typical GOP “wisdom”:
And are we really thinking about veterans when we don't solve the bigger problems, and we have manifest presence in this bill of the very problems we say we need to be addressing but yet we're making them worse with this bill? We're making the financial problems worse with this bill.
In other words, Coburn fails to connect with the personal job problems faced by veterans throughout the country, and he turns the issue into a GOP political harangue. Here’s something the Senate could actually pass without controversy, but Coburn won’t have any of it.
Then there was this from Coburn:
So on Monday mornings when I get to catch a flight to come back up here, I've noticed that I have an attitude problem. I don't want to come anymore. And the reason I don't want come anymore is because we're not doing anything to address the real problems that are in front of our country.
It’s all about poor Coburn, who doesn’t even want to come to work anymore because not enough senators want to do crazy with him. At least he HAS a job? What about the veterans? Again, Coburn turns a simple measure to help people get jobs into one of his Grand Political Statements. He helps block a non-controversial bill, and then later criticizes Democrats for “failure of leadership,” but he’s the one who isn’t doing anything but making political points. He’s the problem, not Reid or Obama.
Meanwhile, as I pointed out, Inhofe had a week of “crazy” recently that included criticizing Obama’s policies of “appeasement and apology” for recent protests in the Middle East, suggesting the president should cut off aid to Egypt if it didn’t provide our embassy protection and then, in a complete contradiction, criticizing Obama again for not recognizing Egypt as a strong ally.
Inhofe’s official statements and contradictions were obvious political tracts for the GOP, but the problem here is that he could do more harm than good for Republicans outside of Oklahoma and other red states. In Massachusetts, Inhofe was used by Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren as an example of why GOP-control of that political body would be a disaster. Warren is running against Republican incumbent Scott Brown. In a debate with Brown, Warren said:
Sen. Brown has been going around the country, talking to people, saying, you’ve got to contribute to his campaign because it may be for the control of the Senate. And he’s right. … What that would mean is if the Republicans take over control of the Senate, Jim Inhofe would become the person who would be in charge of the committee that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s a man that has called global warming ‘a hoax.’ In fact, that’s the title of his book.
Inhofe is world famous and a lightning rod for his denial of the accepted science of global warming and overall climate change. As the Red, Green and Blue blog pointed out, “The Massachusetts Senate race has just become a battleground in the fight against climate change,” and it’s all about Inhofe, a role I’m sure he’ll gladly accept given his track record.
Don’t be fooled by the editorial page of The Oklahoman, Inhofe and Coburn are doing nothing right now but using their offices to support Romney and other GOP candidates whether these candidates like it or not. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be openly stated because of the adoration Inhofe and Coburn receive from the corporate media here.