I’m on the road now and just briefly stopped to get online so I haven’t been on the Internet this morning and I have been listening to XM news stations, not talk radio. But I can just hear the chatter about Republican Tom Coburn now:
He MUST be a RINO!…I always knew he really wasn’t supportive of the party…He just doesn’t get it…Let’s demand a refund on any contributions to his campaign now!…This shows he isn’t a conservative but he must be a socialist or a moderate — same difference!!
Stop the presses (the ones that haven’t already been sold, stopped, cut way back on printing hours, that is)! Re-top your political blog. Listen to Rush to see what he has to say. And if you’re a newspaper syndicate, think about a big re-launch of the old BELIEVE IT OR NOT comic strip. I got a story that’ll bust this town wide open:
In this poisonous political climate — where partisans seemingly lockstep demonize the other side, websites go after websites because they run different views, writers can detest other writers because they see things differently through their life’s experience prism, and talk show callers and website commentators sometimes seemingly search for the quick insult or sound bite that’s personal rather than discuss boring old things like issues and policy points — there are little pockets of resistance. Witness Republican Sen. Tom Colburn whose comments a)are a breath of fresh air (OOPS! Thats as politically loaded description since it’s an NPR program and we all KNOW about NPR), b)”keep hope alive” that perhaps not everyone wants to be part of the talk radio demonization political culture where anger and personal rage fuel up many on the right and left c)could be finessed or retracted as he comes under (inevitable) fire from Rush, Sean, Glenn and some (but not all) new and old media conservative pundits.
The following is NOT a delayed April Fool’s post or Onion story:
Sen. Tom Coburn, a staunch conservative from Oklahoma, is doing what seems almost unthinkable in this polarized political climate: Defending his Democratic colleagues from critics at Fox News.
At a town hall meeting, Coburn suggested that a woman who said “they can put us in prison” for not obtaining health insurance under the health care reform bill is misinformed.
“The intention is not to put anybody in jail,” he said. “That makes for good TV news on Fox but that isn’t the intention.”
Just whose side does he think he’s on?
He also defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the architect of the House version of the health care legislation that he fiercely opposed.
“I’m 180 degrees in opposition to the speaker — she’s a nice lady,” he said. The crowd could be heard responding unfavorably to his characterization.
“Come on now, she is a nice — how many of you all have met her?” continued Coburn. “She’s a nice person. She’s a nice person.”
“Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re not a good person,” he added. He then discussed his own experience of being vilified before asking the crowd not to “catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody’s no good.”
“The people in Washington are good,” he said. “They just don’t know what they don’t know.”
Let’s start the campaign for a primary challenge to him now..
Here are two realities:
REALITY NUMBER ONE:
Arizona Senator John McCain, in the latest assertion that totally deep sixes the qualities that made him the idol of many independents and moderates in 2000, recently claimed that he never considered himself a maverick. (Funny since he had used the word occasionally and he never complained or said a word when Sarah Palin referred to him with that specific word repeatedly).
We can now accept what has been evident since McCain lost in 2000: he is not a maverick but a pure partisan and there’s nothing really wrong with that. But that word should never be uttered in relation to John McCain again, even if he rebrands his apparent rebrand after he wins re-election.
Coburn is a partisan as well.
And in his comments he is showing that when it comes to pointing out how politics could and should be conducted Coburn IS a maverick.
Now let’s see how long it lasts.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.