Senator Tom Coburn’s office is the rare Capitol Hill work space without a “me wall” — the display of photographs of a lawmaker standing beside presidents, foreign leaders and other dignitaries, all illustrating How Big a Deal he is.
Instead, hanging above Mr. Coburn’s desk is a large framed print of the word “no.” It was a tribute from a liberal voter in New York thanking Mr. Coburn, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma, for his efforts at thwarting expensive legislation.
Known as Dr. No, Mr. Coburn, a family practice physician, views legislative battle less in terms of Republicans versus Democrats than as a matter of yes versus no. He sees himself as a one-man treatment center helping Congress beat its bipartisan addiction to misguided spending.
“I’ve always considered myself an opposition within the opposition,” said Mr. Coburn, whose willingness to block, delay or neuter bills through an array of procedural measures has made him an effective nuisance during his five years in the Senate.
As the health care overhaul heads to the Senate floor, Mr. Coburn is preparing for what he considers a career pinnacle of havoc. Enacting the proposal, he says, would be catastrophic, and so if precedent holds, he will try to hinder it with every annoying tool in his arsenal: filing amendments (he has done that 508 times since joining the Senate, second only to John McCain’s 542 in that period), undertaking filibusters and objecting strenuously.
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Saturday, October 31, 2009
A Senate Naysayer, Spoiling for Health Care Fight
A Senate Naysayer, Spoiling for Health Care Fight; The New York Times