Posted by: Jeff | August 26, 2009

Senator Coburn Is a Consummate Ass

Oh good God in Heaven. Observe:

Okay, as the host points out, Coburn tells this woman that his office – you know, his government office – will help her, and then in his very next sentence declares that government is not the solution to her problems. Uh-huh. And as Alison Stewart points out on The Rachel Maddow Show, if Coburn’s plan to help everyone in similar circumstances is “call my office,” he’s going to be dealing with one hell of a voice mail backlog.

Now, maybe Sen. Coburn secretly has a group of genetically-engineered super interns running his office who can handle a caller volume of roughly 50 to 70 million. But somehow I doubt it. Nor do I imagine the other people filling that town hall meeting, as neighborly as I’m sure they are, would be able to handle that kind of case load. No matter how many extra home-cooked meals or charitable donations they were able to shell out.

No, unfortunately for Sen. Coburn, handling a problem of that magnitude is going to require broader organization and manpower. It’s going to require infrastructure and it’s going to require bureaucracy. And it’s going to require command of some seriously large-scale resources. In short, it’s going to require something that looks a lot like a government. You know, that thing the senator just said isn’t the solution.

In case you’re wondering, that painful grinding sensation you’re currently experiencing behind your eyeballs is referred to in academic circles as “cognitive dissonance.”



  1. […] a Consummate Ass (Cont.) Over at The New Republic, Harold Pollack adds his own two cents to Sen. Coburn’s stand-out performance. I have no elaboration to offer, so I’ll just quote Pollack at […]

  2. This is a heartbreaking story from a woman who truly needs help. I can not and will not doubt that. It’s the perfect reason to support government healthcare, which is why it’s shown on tv over and over. However, it does not showcase the many reasons against it.

    What Senator Coburn says is that the woman should be looking to her friends and neighbors for help. I assume that must mean financial help. If he was taxing them to support government healthcare for her husband then the result is the same but the means are different. That crowd did seem eagar to jump on board the whole “friends and neighbors” thing, but I suspect they probably are not so gung ho for the “universal healthcare” thing.

    While I am against such government programs, perhaps you should say that the crowd is a consumate ass instead of the Senator.

  3. Actually, I think this clip is being shown so much precisely because it does showcase at least one reason given against government health care, and why that reason is so far off base.

    Coburn can’t invoke “personal responsibility” in this instance – that would be insane and inhuman – but then the only alternative is “collective responsibility.” Coburn can’t/won’t go there for ideological reasons. (And yeah, I imagine many in the audience don’t want to go there either.) So he winds up doing this weird verbal dance about “friends and neighbors.”

    Which would all be well and good if this woman’s problems were isolated. But as I point out in the post, that’s not the case. “Friends and neighbors” won’t cut it when you’ve got 49,999,999 other people with similar stories. The only way to handle that is with infrastructure. Which means bureaucracy and taxes. And lo and behold, suddenly you’ve got government-run health care. What this clip showcases is the knots people have to tie themselves in to avoid admitting that collective responsibility is precisely what we need when it comes to health care.

    Now, if Coburn and yourself are opposed to government health care for reasons of principle, that’s your call. But then you should acknowledge you have no realistic solution to this kind of problem.

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