In Praise of Dr. Coburn
Ross Douthat writes on the general awesomeness of Dr. Tom Coburn (R, Okla):
There is a conceit, especially popular among the press corps, that the salvation of America depends exclusively on self-described moderates and centrists. If there’s a path out of gridlock and insolvency, this theory goes, it can’t be charted by consistent conservatives or liberals. Instead, the nation needs the leadership of ideologically flexible, politically ambidextrous mavericks: Democrats like Evan Bayh, perhaps, and Republicans like Susan Collins, with President Michael Bloomberg waiting to sign whatever compromises they devise.
This vision doesn’t leave much room for a figure like Tom Coburn, Oklahoma’s junior Republican senator. Coburn came to Washington as a congressman in 1994, and distinguished himself by remaining incorruptibly right-wing while many Republican revolutionaries accustomed themselves to the perks of governing. Since his 2004 election to the Senate, he’s remained a conservative’s conservative, equally resolute in his opposition to earmarks, Obamacare and abortion.
But in the last two years, Coburn has also proved himself braver than many of his colleagues, more creative on public policy, and more intellectually honest about the consequences of popular legislation. His example suggests that America may be saved from fiscal ruin, not by politicians who trim their sails at every opportunity, but by lawmakers with stiff backbones and unwavering convictions.