'Dr. No'

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 28, 2008

This post has been updated

One of the best Republicans in the U.S. Senate is Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. The ob/gyn who first won a congressional seat in 1994 -- and continued to deliver babies on weekends -- is now in the Senate, where his focus on fiscal restraint has won him the moniker of "Dr. No."

Coburn has become a thorn in the side of Democrats -- and some profligate Republicans. (Coburn and I have something in common -- we've both ticked off Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.)

Today, Sen. Harry "Taxes are Voluntary" Reid, is packaging together some disparate pieces of pork -- some of it good, all of it duplicative of other government efforts -- in an effort to break Coburn's "holds" on the legislation.

Both the New York Times and Washington Post have pieces on Coburn and Reid's unprecedented move to thwart a single senator.

I encourage you to read them both and note the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in how Coburn is portrayed and the quotes from selected people (specifically Sen. Dick Durbin) used to describe Coburn.

Finally, I want to note what really drew my attention to this story -- the version transmitted on the wires by the Times that includes at least one line that doesn't appear in the story on the Times' Web site.

Some of Coburn's colleagues are strong supporters, saying his insistence on a fuller debate has improved bills and saved money. "I think Coburn is one of the hardest-working senators and maybe one of the smartest," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. "People who read a bill and have constructive suggestions ought to be respected rather than criticized. What the Democrats want to do is intimidate people to give unanimous consent, and that is not in the tradition of the Senate."

Even some Democrats have a grudging admiration for Coburn's determination, and they distinguish him from other Senate archconservatives whom they see as more interested in gumming up the works. They point out that Coburn has shown an occasional willingness to make concessions, as he did after long months of effort with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., on a genetic nondiscrimination law. And he has worked with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, a fact that the Democratic presidential candidate has proudly referred to when talking about his ability to reach across the aisle. The two even shared a hug when Obama returned to the floor recently.

The bolded text was transmitted over the wires -- repeatedly. The version I e-mailed to myself was the second version (aka 1STLD-WRITETHRU) transmitted, which made a minor wording change in the eighth paragraph. (The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat ran the version with this wording in it.)

Ted Kennedy isn't a liberal -- but Coburn is an "archconservative."

You stay classy New York Times.


The Senate GOP has done the right thing and has sided with Coburn.

0 comments on “'Dr. No'”

  1. If more Republicans were like Coburn, the Republican Party would not be in the minority. Here's hoping his passion for accountability rubs off on both his Republican and Democratic colleagues. I wouldn't count on it though.


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