Sen. Tom Coburn (photo by Brandi Simons)
This photo by Brandi Simons accompanied a recent article by Mary Jordan profiling Sen. Tom Coburn for the Washington Post. At the time I thought the article smelled like a puff-piece. Little did I realize this was an attempt to get ahead of the news cycle. Mary Jordan's PR piece begins with a positively iconic description of the man, drawing on a variety of American archetypes:
"Tom Coburn is a Southern Baptist deacon, a family man married to a former Miss Oklahoma, a white-coated physician back in Muskogee who has delivered more than 4,000 babies and sees patients free of charge every Monday."
As she goes on to note in her next paragraph:
"But there's a darker side of the story..."
Unfortunately, that rhetorical flourish is used to obscure the true dark side. I think we owe it to the men and women who serve this nation, and to the families and loved ones who support them, to honestly look at the dark side.
Staff Sergeant JosÃ© PequeÃ±o
Let me introduce you to Staff Sergeant Jose PequeÃ±o, his family and friends. These are some of the good, decent, God-fearing people Tom Coburn throws to the wolves.
As you may know, Senator Tom "Dr. No" Coburn, is the only senator with the gall to block S. 1963, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009. This is a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide assistance to caregivers of veterans, to improve the provision of health care to veterans.
NO veteran's organization stands in opposition to this bill.
No other senator, left, right, center, Democrat, Republican, Independent, freshman or senior, from the north or the south, from sea to shining sea, stands in opposition to this bill.
No decent American would dare stand in the way of this legislation to provide support for those who must bear the burden of war now and for decades to come.
No parent would dare torment another by abandoning them to their worst nightmare.
No one, that is, except for one man. A man who was trained to heal, A man who took an oath to provide care and comfort. A man who took an oath to serve this nation and his constituents. A man who is happy to abandon families in their darkest hour. That small, pathetic excuse of man is Dr. Tom Coburn, Republican Senator from Oklahoma.
I could have picked any of thousands of stories to illustrate the depths of Coburn's depravity, but I think the story of Jose PequeÃ±o, his family and friends deserves to be well known. Jose PequeÃ±o's name is ironic. In Spanish, "pequeÃ±o" means "small", but there is nothing small about this man, his family or the community that embraces them.
Here is how Gary Sinise, Katie Holmes and Dianne Wiest re-enacted the actual experiences of Staff Sergeant Jose PequeÃ±o's family at this year's PBS Memorial Day Concert.
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