Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) in in a no-holds-barred cage match with Senate Majority Leader Harry and, oddly enough, the Washington Post isn't reflexively jumping to the defense of the scrappy, embattled, former pugilist from Searchlight, Nevada.
Coburn has become best known as the lawmaker who says no -- no to increased funding for unsolved civil rights crimes, no to creation of a national registry for victims of the disease ALS, no to more money for child pornography prosecutions.
Using every parliamentary tactic at his disposal, Coburn has tied the Senate in so many knots that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has decided on an extraordinary tactic: He will devote most of the Senate's time this week to breaking the one-man stranglehold.
Rolling 35 bills into one omnibus package, Reid will try to leap all of Coburn's parliamentary hurdles at once and win approval for dozens of programs worth more than $10 billion.
"For those of you who may not know this," Reid told reporters recently, "you cannot negotiate with Coburn. It's just something that you learn over the years . . . is a waste of time."
Read it all. Especially when Senator Coburn's philosophy is contrasted with others:
"What do the constituents in your state expect of you? I believe they expect me to get some things done. I don't believe they're looking for 'no.' They're looking for 'yes,' " said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who fought Coburn last year over an earmark for a Nebraska-based military contractor.
Maybe Senator Coburn is on to something.