Oklahama's junior U.S. senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, prides himself on his principles. Like his Oklahoma senate colleague, former Tulsa mayor Jim Inhofe, Coburn is nothing if not stubborn in support of his ideas, even when he's wrong.
That's the latest dilemma for Dr. Coburn, who finds himself now tagged as "the senate's least powerful man." Unfortunately, the label fits.
The problem is Coburn's flagrant overuse of the Senate "hold," a procedure that allows a single senator to stop action on a bill. As a Tulsa World points out today, Coburn is the czar of the hold, blocking bill after bill, including bills nearly everyone else agrees on.
For instance, Coburn has blocked a bill that would address the high suicide rate among veterans. He's blocked a bill to fund breast-cancer research. He's blocked a bill to assist paralyzed people find better treatments.
We're sure Dr. Coburn can rationalize every one of these positions in the name of saving the taxpayer money. But the truth is that Coburn doesn't play with others, a major flaw for a member of "the world's greatest deliberative body."
The World got it right when they described Coburn as "not just arrogant," but "aggressively arrogant."
Coburn's tactics have backfired, and—surprise!—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now planning to run over the Oklahoma senator, rendering Coburn more isolated and ineffective than ever.
Coburn is supposed to represent an entire state—not just his personal agenda— and do so in a reasonable manner. Oklahomans deserve better.