New York Times profiles Tom Coburn, damages barn

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New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich traveled to Sen. Tom Coburn's Muskogee farm for a profile which appears in today's edition:

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.

"When it comes to obstructing bills, he is part of a very tiny pantheon in the history of the Senate," said Ross Baker, a Senate historian at Rutgers University.

To Mr. Coburn, charges of obstructionism are a mark of honor he will wear as proudly as ever in the coming weeks.

"My mission is to frame this health care debate in terms of the fiscal ruin of this country," said the 61-year-old Mr. Coburn, who recently railed on the Senate floor that the federal debt was "waterboarding" his five grandchildren. "I have instructed my staff to clear my schedule for every minute that bill is on the floor."

After inflicting migraines in Washington, Mr. Coburn goes home on weekends to Muskogee, where he treats patients on Mondays. He says he does his best thinking aboard his John Deere mower, which can run 20 miles an hour and slash through pretty much anything on his seven-acre meadow. Mr. Coburn dons earplugs, stares straight ahead and cuts a determined swath, just as he does in the Senate.

And now for the story behind the story, from Politico:

While in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Leibovich was gamely listening to Coburn coo over how much he loves mowing his fields with his beloved John Deere tractor. At the end of the interview, we hear, Coburn bravely attempted to teach the scribe just how to use his John Deere. (Apparently, it's quite the machine, with different protruding levers and what not. For clarification, please imagine the chicken scene in "Footloose.")

Leibovich, a city kid at heart hailing from the Boston suburbs, became instantly overwhelmed and in front of a photographer and the fine senator, wound up driving the tractor straight into Coburn's barn....

Coburn's office shared some more info on the whole ordeal. Spokesman John Hart explained, "In act of heroism, a New York Times reporter on a high performance John Deere tractor narrowly avoided colliding with Senator Coburn who was decapitating a water moccasin that was slithering toward his barn. The reporter instead grazed the Senator's barn, missing the Senator with room to spare. An armadillo meandering through the field was not so lucky, however."

RELATED: A vivid illustration of the rate of growth of the national debt over the last 100 years:

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Jamison said:

I'm sorry... 'farm' just isn't the word for Dr. Tom's place!! Not that most people would know that, though, so no biggie, Michael. :-D I'm over there occasionally, or drive by it. Basically, he's got about 5 acres of grass (with the old barn), and another two wooded acres with the house (to the bottom right of the NYT picture).

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