U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, voted “present” Monday on whether to end their party's filibuster of Robert Bacharach for a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, despite the senators' insistence they support the nomination on the merits. In his book “The Debt Bomb,” Coburn makes good points about Washington's dysfunction. These points apply to matters beyond money. Coburn wrote that “taking the time to be informed and hold Washington accountable makes … the decisive difference.” Voting “present” is the same as voting “no” since moving forward requires 60 “yes” votes, not some fraction of those present.
Coburn borrows from Robert Kennedy, stating “few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows” and “the censure of their colleagues.” Still, our senators refused to buck GOP leaders who insisted on blocking the nomination. Coburn called his party's election-year tactic “stupid” but couldn't bring himself to vote out of step for an outstanding nominee for an Oklahoma seat that's been vacant for more than two years..
After the vote, Coburn pledged to fight for Bacharach's nomination after the election, even if Mitt Romney wins. Forgetting the fact that he could have voted “yes” on Monday, here's hoping that Coburn's actions match his words at some later date.
Daniel G. Webber, Jr., Oklahoma City