All this dates back a decade when Dr. Coburn came to Washington as a foot soldier in the Gingrich Revolution. By July 1997, Coburn had concluded that Speaker Newt Gingrich was no revolutionary. He was a leader in the unsuccessful coup attempt to replace Gingrich with then Rep. Bill Paxon, now the only big-time Washington lobbyist who supports Coburn.
Coburn in the Senate can be expected to act much as he did in the House, when he constantly harassed the appropriators for spending the budget surplus. He would not follow the accepted freshman senator's model of spending his first two years listening and waiting. From day one, he would join John McCain in upbraiding colleagues over their insatiable appetite for pork. He would push immediately for Social Security and Medicare reform. He would make clear his unhappiness over the way the Department of Health and Human Services has been run under Republican management led by Secretary Tommy Thompson.
Coburn was so uncongenial to the go-along, get-along mood that characterized the Republican majority in the House that a conflict-of-interest complaint was filed against him because he went back to Muskogee every week to deliver babies. If he had to choose, he declared, he would give up Congress -- and the complaint was dropped. In his current campaign, Coburn spends two days a week practicing medicine.
In announcing his candidacy, Coburn took dead aim at the professional politicians who dominate the Republican-controlled Congress: "I believe we have a deficit of moral courage in the United States Congress. We have many learned individuals who know what is right but have not the courage to stand against the moral corruption that is now attempting to undermine our republic." Tom Coburn is not running to be the most popular senator.
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