My thanks to Arnold Hamilton, Denver Nicks and Ray Ring for having the journalistic guts to call out two of the most inept and unproductive members of that elite legislative body derisively referred to as the "Dead Poets Society" (HCN, 11/8/10). Even in a body where incompetence is the expectation and the norm, I can think of only a few other states whose senators could meet the measure of the dynamic duo from Oklahoma for obstructive proficiency and vacuity of purpose.
Now, like the suddenly infamous Koch brothers, Tom Coburn and his thick sidekick, James Inhofe, the inveterate climate change denier and William Jennings Bryan throwback, are finally receiving some well-deserved notoriety.
I'm confounded by what residents of the Sooner State choose not to understand in the multi-layered contradictions between the ideological posits of their two posers and the facts on the ground in their own lives. I have no doubt that in his delusional grandiosity, "Dr. No" views himself as a messenger from God. But at some point even low-information voters have to sense some kind of disconnect between what they see and hear. In the ongoing saga of Tom Coburn, he and Inhofe want to run roughshod over more than just the West.
I've always been troubled by the piteous images and photos of Okies driven from their homes by the dust storms of the 1930s. Entire families were devastated by a system fueled by greed, rendering them invisible and unworthy of the most basic human compassion. And who was it that endured the vitriolic taunts of "traitor" to begin building a network of safety nets for the disinherited and dispossessed? It was FDR. But that's old news today. Now, Oklahomans have their mindsets framed by snake-oil salesmen that they continue to re-elect every six years. For a state that produced icons like Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie, it's been a steep downward slide. We all have the right to elect our representatives, but because of the obsolete rules of the Senate and the sheer number of its denizens resting comfortably in corporate pockets, the malignant obstruction by shills for hire stops all progress in its tracks.
I feel deflated. I fear I'm beginning to lose faith in our elected officials.