What's with Sen. Tom Coburn and his increasingly thin skin?
This is not an idle question. Indeed, the good doctor—not yet halfway through his 6-year term— seems frustrated and unhappy, a politician unwilling to make the kinds of compromises that all politicians are required to make if they want to stay in politics.
As evidence, we point to today's Tulsa World, where Sen. Coburn says he won't seek re-election in 2010 if a new ethics bill becomes law. The new bill, Coburn says, is so punitive that it could cost a politician $500,000 to defend himself against an innocent mistake.
If the new law enacted, Sen. Coburn predicts, very few people will run for Congress or the Senate because of the risks.
We have reason to doubt such pronouncements. Other laws have caused other politicians to make the same prediction, yet we never run out of ambitious people willing to stand for election.
Beyond the new law, Sen. Coburn wants us to know he's not having fun in D.C. "This isn't a fun job," Coburn told the World. "It's a tremendously burdensome job, knowing that you can't change things to fix the future and you have to work every day to try to do that."
Something is definitely zapping Dr. Coburn's spirit. We have no inclination to pursure pop psychology here, but the man must be terribly frustrated.
Yet it's hard to feel sorry for the good doctor. A veteran of Congress who has written a book about his earlier life on the Hill, Coburn is no political virgin. He knew that life in the Senate was no picnic. And given his maverick views, he had to know that he was going against the grain when he returned to Washington.
So we return to our original question: What's with Sen. Coburn?
We're stumped. But like Jim Myers, the World's Washington reporter, we wonder why he doesn't give up politics and go back to doing something he likes: being a doctor.