Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Tom Coburn has advice for Mitt Romney: Listen to Ann Romney, and get her to clear the content of major speeches.
He delivered the counsel with a smile, and obvious sincerity.
Dr. Tom, as the obstetrician and gynecologist is widely known at home, briskly responded to CapitolBeatOK’s query asking for the most important thing the GOP’s Romney-Ryan ticket can do between now and the election in November:
“I told Mitt Romney personally, ‘You shouldn’t give a speech until your wife has seen it and read it and approved it. Words are cheap. If you are authentic and transparent, if your heart shows in the speeches you give and the actions you take, America’s going to see that, and America will support you.’ ”
Oklahoma’s junior U.S. senator from Muskogee was closing speaker at an Energy Summit that drew co-sponsorship from energy industry giants. The doctor’s words were sober, yet clearly inspirational to listeners.
To be sure, he sketched the contents of his new book on debt – autographed copies were provided — and he called for market-oriented energy policies. But his words about Ann Romney were the most intriguing of his comments.
Concerning Romney’s pick for vice president, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Coburn told CapitolBeatOK, “The Paul Ryan I know is purely authentic. The Mitt Romney I know is purely authentic. If that does not come through to the American people, they won’t win. If it does come through, they will win.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn speaks Wednesday at the Energy Summit in Oklahoma City.
While touching on broad issues of public policy, many of Coburn’s remarks were introspective and deeply personal, in the form of encouragement to attendees for civic engagement to address what he deems “a crisis of leadership.” Coburn wants to replace that with “sacrificial leadership” to reshape the self-centeredness he said diminishes contemporary politics.
“Many of the people in this room could serve in this job just as well as me,” Coburn said. “We’re leaving it to the professional politicians, so the problems are our fault. What was it about our founders that made them so special? It was moral courage to take on the status quo of their day.
“I want to restore — not remake — America, to the principles of the founders, to create a true and free country, and to liberate people …. Everybody gets it — what we need to do — except in Washington.”
He encouraged the room of activists and energy specialists to read Marvin Olasky’s book, “The Tragedy of American Compassion.”
“A government cannot be compassionate,” Coburn said. “Only people can be compassionate. We’ve stolen that capacity from Americans. We want to change. Olasky has shown this, how to help somebody without making them dependent on government.”
Coburn also pressed on his signature issues — federal spending and the unfathomable financial burdens our nation faces. Wrapping up, Dr. Tom underscored the central policy challenge facing America.
“At the rate we’re going, by 2022 the entire budget, at current interest rates and projections, will be debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” he said.
If things don’t change, “we won’t be able to afford anything else. That’s why we have to change now,” he said.
Brian Bush of the host, Oklahoma Council for Public Policy, hailed Coburn as “a man who always does what he says he’s going to do.”
Coburn said this will be his final term in the U.S. Senate, and few doubt he means it.