Bring The Pain: Tom Coburn Holds A Town Hall Meeting

Senator/Doctor Tom Coburn held a town hall in Tulsa, OK last Friday and...well, he spoke his mind (h/t Professor Bainbridge):
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn called out Democrats, Republicans, Newt Gingrich, the military-industrial complex, teachers unions and Medicare - to name a few - at a town hall meeting Friday.
Coburn rightly notes that the electorate has the aspect of a sleeper woken by a cold dash of water in the face who doesn't recognize the world in which he has awoken:
"The real problem is that America is asleep," Coburn said, speaking mostly in response to questions from an audience of about 65 people at the Wagoner Civic Center. "America is not involved. I think this election they'll be more involved than they ever have been, and the reason is they're scared."
Coburn recognizes that the electorate is now paying very close attention to the conservative candidates who are promising to bring a new approach to DC, and a failure to follow through will be fatal to the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
"If the conservatives in Congress gain control and don't live up to expectations," he said, "the Republican Party will be dead."
He doesn't like the idea of a Newt Gingrich candidacy for president:
Coburn made it clear that he won't be on Newt Gingrich's 2012 presidential bandwagon.

Gingrich "is a super-smart man, but he doesn't know anything about commitment to marriage," he said of the thrice-married former House speaker. "He's the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president."
Amen. Gingrich is a man of the Nineties, whose moment was 15 years ago and who frittered away that last "Republican Revolution." His Speakership began with calls to close the Department of Education, and ended with the status quo ante. Not sure he's the guy we need now that we are going to try to repeal Obamacare.

Coburn also took a shot at the military-industrial complex, something we've been hearing with increased volume from the Right:
Coburn also expanded on his recent criticism of arms spending, echoing President Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 warning against the "military-industrial complex."

"I'm not capable of telling you, because I don't have the training, whether we have the forces we need," he said. "I can tell you that if you add our forces and compare them to the next 19 nations, ... we're stronger."

He continued: "The problem is, we have allowed the military-industrial complex to make things unaffordable. There's no choke chain. We need a choke chain. When the cost of an F-35 triples during development, something's wrong."
Harsh words, but it needs to be said. It's not anti-military or isolationist to demand that the military spending be more efficient. There were one too many Republican congressmen during the Bush years who did a lot of flag waving with one hand and wallet filling with the other. War pimps on the Right are just as bad as poverty pimps on the Left.

Coburn also brought some anti-left red meat:
As he has in the past, Coburn blasted health-care reform and traced the rise of medical costs to the introduction of Medicare in the 1960s. He said schools "are no longer about kids, they are about teachers' unions," and he claimed that academic achievement has gone down since the creation of the U.S. Department of Education, although some statistics argue otherwise.

Coburn also repeated what has become a popular line among conservatives - that "no one has ever been hired by a poor person" - to support tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
That's real principled Straight Talk, not media approved Straight Talk that serves to tweak and self-promote. Typically for our times, Coburn spoke these words before an audience of 65 rather than a bus full of chuckling journalists.

Coburn, along with Jim DeMint, David Vitter, John Kyl, and too few others, have been lonely voices the last 10 years. Hopefully, Coburn will have some company in the Senate after November because his perspective is one the country needs to hear.

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