Ever since he surprised a whole bunch of people and endorsed John McCain prior to the South Carolina primary, I have always believed Tom Coburn had a shot at the second spot on the ticket. I’ve never really explained, however, why this would please me so much. As it turns out, the Washington Post did it for me:
Coburn, an obstetrician and gynecologist elected to the Senate in 2004, believes that many lawmakers propose duplicative programs without any way of measuring their effectiveness. His negotiating stance with the other 99 senators is fairly straightforward.
“If we pass a new program, we either ought to get rid of the old program or we ought to make it to where it blends with this other one so it’s effective,” Coburn said in an interview last week. “Almost everything that they’ve offered has a duplicate program out there that they’re not either eliminating or changing.”
Coburn has turned his office into its own accountability unit. Aides must comb every piece of legislation headed to the floor for potential government waste.
His staff estimates that waste and fraud costs taxpayers $300 billion a year.
Coburn’s determination has made him the Senate’s “Dr. No.” His refusal to budge on principle has made him infamous in the deal-making world of the Senate:
. . . Reid leaves it up to the legislation’s sponsor to try to negotiate with Coburn. But the normal legislative give-and-take has no appeal to him. Coburn does not accept earmarks, the spending for pet projects that lawmakers insert into bills. And because of a self-imposed two-term limit, Coburn has no aspirations to become a committee chairman or party leader, so he does not need to do any favors for colleagues.
While Ron Paul has gotten most of the headlines with his presidential campaign, Coburn has been blocking real government expansion and inefficiencies (yes, I know, Dr. Paul can only do so much in the House). More to the point, he has none of Paul foreign policy baggage.
In short, he would be a terrific running-mate for McCain. Nothing would better show to disgruntled right-wingers that McCain is serious about cutting government down to size. This pick would also keep McCain away from the GOP establishment, an entity that does the nominee more harm than good. MSM wouldn’t be happy (the Postaccount is hardly flatering), but it’s already all-in for Obama as it is. Most importantly, Coburn would give McCain’s campaign a domestic policy agenda, something I still think the GOP desperately needs, and make McCain’s play for the “change” mantle far more credible.
I can’t say what McCain will do, but I’m more convinced than ever of what he should do: nominate Tom Coburn for Vice President.