The Coburn/Carson debate: a view from New York and a response


It's interesting to see a familiar political race through someone else's eyes. Dawn Summers takes a commendable interest in politics beyond the Hudson. She watched Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate between Tom Coburn and Little Boy Brad Carson and has a few interesting observations (hat tip to Karol for alerting me to this):

This weekend I watched Tim Russert moderate a debate between the Senate candidates from Oklahoma. Evidently, farming and roads are all the rage. Interestingly enough, the Democrat wanted to let viewers know that he supported the the Patriot Act, the prescription drug bill and the President's tax cuts.

While the Republican criticized the prescription drug bill because it would provide benefits to the wealthiest members of society who didn't need it, remained concerned about the Patriot Act because he didn't like sacrificing liberty for security and regarded the ballooning budget deficit as no less than stealing from our grandchildren.


So, in Oklahoma, Republicans are called Democrats -- sort of middle-America's "le Big Mac," as it were.

Well, not exactly. In Little Boy Brad, you've got a liberal Democrat who knows he must pretend to be a conservative if he's going to get elected in this very conservative state. He's going as far as he can to distance himself from the Democratic ticket without technically lying about his stands on the issues.

In Dr. Coburn you've got a conservative who supports the Patriot Act but shares conservative and libertarian concerns about potential abuses, a conservative who supports government help for those who need it, but opposes fiscal irresponsibility for the burden it places on generations to come. That position, during his six years in Congress, sometimes put him at odds with Republican appropriators, who wanted to continue the time honored Democrat practice of trying to bribe the voters with their own tax dollars. Before he decided to run for Senate, Coburn wrote a no-holds-barred book about the budget battles of the last half of the 1990s, and how congressional careerism works against fiscal restraint.

Dawn continues:

As the debate went on, however, I learned that the Republican candidate, Dr. Coburn supported the death penalty for doctors who performed abortions, but he himself had performed an abortion (with a sterilization on the side) and suppressed the information on the Medicaid forms.

Tom Coburn believes that life begins at conception and that abortion is the taking of innocent human life, only justified when the mother's life is in jeopardy. Consistent with that view he believes that, when Roe v. Wade is overturned and states are once again allowed to regulate or ban abortion, the proper penalty for committing an abortion would be the death penalty, as it is for murders involving people who have already been born. (Here's a press release on the issue.)

On two occasions, Tom Coburn performed surgery on women with ectopic pregnancies -- when the embryo implants in the fallopian tube or somewhere other than the uterus. There is no way for a baby to survive an ectopic pregnancy and unless the baby is surgically removed, the mother will die, too.

One of those two surgeries involved a woman who had an ectopic pregnancy which ruptured one of her fallopian tubes. (Here's a story that does a good job of covering the details.) She was bleeding to death and was rushed into surgery. He removed the ruptured tube and, in accordance with her verbal request, tied the other tube as well. There had not been time to get a written consent for tying the other tube, although the patient had twice before come to Coburn asking for sterilization. Coburn billed Medicaid for the removal of the ectopic pregnancy; he did not bill Medicaid for the sterilization because Medicaid doesn't cover sterilization for patients under the age of 21. Medicaid officials have confirmed that he did nothing wrong, and a malpractice suit brought against him for performing the sterilization without written consent was dropped by the plaintiff, even after an appeals court allowed it to proceed despite the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Dawn continues:

My favorite moment had to be when Tim Russert called Rep. Carson on an article which quoted him as saying "Vote for Bush, but know we need your help in this Senate race."

Carson explained that he meant to say people should feel free to vote for the President if they wanted to, but also know they could vote for him too.

Russert wasn't impressed.

"But you're voting for John Kerry, right?"

Carson: "I'm a supporter of the Democratic nominee, of course."

Yep, yessiree Bob, I fully support whoever the nominee of my party is. I can't right now think of who that may be, I mean, for all I know it could be George W. Bush.


Bush has a 20 to 30 point lead in the polls, and the last thing Little Boy Brad wants is video of himself uttering the words, "I'm voting for John Kerry." Thus the careful soundbite. What a weasel. Oklahomans have a choice between a straight-shooter who tells you what he really thinks and a grasping climber who has to calculate every syllable, because his core beliefs (to the extent he has any) are out of step with Oklahoma.

Thanks, Dawn, for taking an interest in our Senate race. One question: We all know you have a crush on John Edwards and dig Ralph Reed's hair (very bipartisan of you). Are either of our Senate candidates in the same league?

P. S. Her left-wing tendencies notwithstanding, Dawn writes some fascinating, funny, and poignant stuff, and all three adjectives apply to her account of her travels to Panama for the funeral of her grandfather. Start here and scroll up.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 4, 2004 10:45 PM.

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