Oklahoma's Good Doctor
This morning, the AP has caught up with Oklahoma Senate candidate Tom Coburn, who polls today show still (narrowly) trailing Democrat Brad Carson in the race for retiring Senator Don Nickles’ seat. The AP story resurrects a comment Coburn made in 1997, during the second of his three House terms. He deemed NBC’s broadcast of the film “Schindler’s List” an outrage to"decent-minded individuals,” citing"the violence of multiple-gunshot head wounds, vile language, full frontal nudity and irresponsible sexual activity."
Thanks to the Library of Congress’ superb website, Thomas, the Congressional Record since 1990 is easily searchable, and so I browsed through to get a better sense of Coburn’s political positions. He was, for instance, one of the co-sponsors of the Defense of Marriage Act, which he championed by citing “studies to say that over 43 percent of all people who profess homosexuality have greater than 500 partners,” which proved that “homosexuality, the act of homosexuality, not the individual, is immoral, it is wrong.” “We hear about diversity,” the congressman noted, “but we do not hear about perversity,” and people needed to understand that “no society . . . has lived through the transition to homosexuality and the perversion which it lives and what it brought forth.” (July 11, 1996)
Coburn was a congressman unusually preoccupied with sex-related issues. On February 6, 1995, he demanded a surgeon general who would preach for abstinence, since “the basis for our illogical predicate of safe sex is to rationalize our own lack of self control and sexual promiscuity.” He regularly championed legislation to require mandatory partner disclosure of the AIDS virus, which most practitioners believed would discourage people from testing. As a trained doctor, he also came out against needle exchange programs, noting, “One of the precepts in treating alcoholism today in our country is do not enable the patient to fail by enabling their alcoholism. We need to apply that same thing when it comes to drug addiction in this country.” (Sept. 9, 1997)
On other social issues, the Oklahoma congressman was one of the original co-sponsors of the movement to outlaw late-term abortions, describing the procedure as “murder. This has nothing to do with medicine. It has to do with murder at the convenience of the abortionist.” (Oct. 8, 1997) (He later advocated the death penalty for surgeons who performed the procedure.) In 1998, he started lamenting a decline in public morality, caused by “the liberal media, a debased entertainment industry, voter apathy, and Presidential scandal.” (March 26, 1998) Coburn also called for the United States to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, which he claimed had the power to “thwart the will of the American people and overturn American laws.” Coburn promised not to “stand by while foreign judges of the World Trade Organization rule on the validity of the American environmental and labor laws. I will not surrender our sovereignty to the World Trade Organization, nor should we.” (January 25, 1996)
The irony: if Coburn wins, he quite possibly would not be the most radical member of Oklahoma’s Senate delegation, since his colleague would be Jim Inhofe.