Coburn can’t help himself

COBURN CAN’T HELP HIMSELF…. Back in September, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) caused quite a stir. The freshman Democrat had the audacity to argue, on the House floor no less, that the conservative approach to health care is a joke: “Don’t get sick. That’s what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly.”

The GOP and its allies were outraged. The media held Grayson up as an example of incivility in our politics. He made it sound, the argument went, as if Republican policies are literally life threatening. The remarks, conservatives said, crossed a line of decency — no one should accuse their rivals of promoting lethal health care policies.

I can only assume, then, that Republican officials and their allies will rush out today to condemn Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, who returned to the macabre as part of the debate over health care reform this afternoon.

“What I disagree is moving $2.5 trillion more under government control which will raise costs ultimately in the health care sector,” Coburn said. “And if it doesn’t raise costs and we’re truly going to take this money from Medicare, what it’s going to do to our seniors. I have a message for you: you’re going to die sooner. And they’re going to go, ‘That isn’t true. That isn’t true.”

Well, yes, “they” are going to say Coburn’s nonsense isn’t true, but only because Coburn’s nonsense isn’t true.

Let’s put aside questions of grammar and syntax, and look at the “substance” of Coburn’s rhetoric (I use the word loosely). For one thing, the line about $2.5 trillion is ridiculous, and has already been debunked. For another, the notion that cost savings from Medicare will lead to the premature deaths of America’s seniors is both blisteringly stupid and completely insane.

But this is the state of the debate. After eight months of hearings, debates, town halls, reports, committee votes, interviews, and analyses, we still have a leading Republican senator announcing on the Senate floor that health care reform will cause seniors to “die sooner.”

If this gets one-tenth as much attention as Grayson’s story, I’ll be very impressed. If even one of the GOP officials who called on Grayson to apologize wants to defend Coburn’s garbage, I’d love to hear the spin.