Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican of Oklahoma, has been a conservative titan in Congress since his arrival in 1995. Throughout his career, Coburn has combated runaway spending -- at times running afoul of his own party's leadership -- while championing the pro-life cause (as a medical doctor, Coburn has delivered more than 4,000 babies over his career) and other conservative issues. Nicknamed "Dr. No" for opposing a raft of legislation he'd determined to be unconstitutional, Coburn is perhaps best known for producing his annual "waste book" list of wasteful government spending. He's also been an advocate for term limits -- a principle he'll live out by curtailing his current Senate term:
Sen. Tom Coburn, one of Washington’s leading and most fiscally conservative lawmakers, announced Thursday he would be stepping down at the end of the year. The Republican from Oklahoma had previously announced he would not seek reelection but his latest comments have him leaving Congress two years sooner than he previously planned. Coburn has been suffering from a recurrence of prostate cancer and hinted about his departure during an interview with reporters last week. “Serving as Oklahoma’s senator has been, and continues to be, one of the great privileges and blessings of my life," said Coburn, 65. "But after much prayer and consideration, I have decided that I will leave my Senate seat at the end of this Congress." ... “As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere," Coburn said in his statement. "In the meantime, I look forward to finishing this year strong. I intend to continue our fight for Oklahoma, and will do everything in my power to force the Senate to re-embrace its heritage of debate, deliberation and consensus as we face our many challenges ahead." Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reacted to the news by describing Coburn as "one of the most intelligent, principled, and decent men in modern Senate history" in a statement.
While Coburn's health clearly played some part in his decision, he's stressing that it wasn't the driving factor:
Carolyn and I have been touched by the encouragement we've received from people across the state regarding my latest battle against cancer. But this decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires. My commitment to the people of Oklahoma has always been that I would serve no more than two terms. Our founders saw public service and politics as a calling rather than a career. That's how I saw it when I first ran for office in 1994, and that's how I still see it today. I believe it's important to live under the laws I helped write, and even those I fought hard to block.
Coburn's sterling personal integrity is respected across party lines in Washington, DC. His laconic demeanor and unobnoxious commitment to principle made him a quiet, potent force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill. Though he'll most assuredly be replaced by another conservative Republican, Coburn will be sorely missed by constitutionalists and patriots from coast to coast. God speed, Senator. I'll leave you with "Dr. No" building the case against Democrats' failed "stimulus" bill back in 2009 and describing Obamacare as "malpractice:"
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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