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Tom Coburn: Gingrich’s Leadership Was “Lacking” As Speaker

Senator Tom Coburn, who came into the House as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution, isn’t exactly a fan of the guy who is credited with bringing that revolution about:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Sunday that he cannot support GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich because the former House speaker lacks leadership skills.

“I am not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s having served under him for four years and experienced his leadership. Because I found it lacking often times,” Coburn said on Fox News Sunday. The Oklahoma senator served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.

“There’s all kind of leaders, leaders that instill confidence and leaders that are somewhat abrupt, leaders that have one standard for the people that they are leading and a different standard for themselves,” he said. “I will have difficulty supporting him for president of the United States.”

Coburn in March said that he was looking for a president that would unite the country and raised questions about Gingrich’s confrontational style

Coburn’s comments are mild, though, compared to what another member of the Class of 1994, former Florida Congressman and now MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough has been saying about his former leader recently. Take a look at this clip from last Monday, for example:

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When the people who should know Gingrich’s governing style best are saying this, one wonders why he’s become such a darling of the right.

Update: Alex Kauffman also takes note of Coburn’s comments today, as well as the often forgotten circumstances that ultimately led to Gingrich’s downfall, which didn’t have to do just with the fact that he was having an affair while leading the call for Bill Clinton’s impeachment

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    “Coburn in March said that he was looking for a president that would unite the country”

    Shouldn’t stuff like that render everything else Coburn says suspect? I mean, given his behavior, Coburn is either lying to himself or to the public when he says that.

    As for Scarborough, I’ll say it again. The uncontrolled personal loathing our political elites feel for Newt is the single greatest advantage he has in this environment.

    Mike

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  2. Tano says:

    @MBunge:

    The uncontrolled personal loathing our political elites feel for Newt is the single greatest advantage he has in this environment.

    Perhaps. If that type of loathing were found only amongst the elites, then you might have a point. He might be able to leverage that, as he often tries to do with his attacks against “the media”.

    But unfortunately for Newt, the loathing is far more widespread than just amongst “the elites”.
    There are probably very few people who really like Newt – and the ones that do are just not paying attention. Listen again to Scarborough going through the list of heretical positions that Newt has taken on issues that are the core concerns of the real people in the GOP base, not just the elites. I have seen the GOP base turn on candidates and crucify them for holding any one of those positions – he has too many to count.

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  3. sam says:

    Coburn’s not alone in his disdain: Pete King: Gingrich is condescending, undisciplined, and bad for the G.O.P.

    On Newt’s lack of focus and discipline:

    “It was like Newt would read a book and we’d go off into a different topic,” King said. “He’d go on ‘Meet the Press’ and he’d go off message. If you’re the speaker and you lay out an agenda, or a particular bill, you stay on that until the bill is passed. With Newt, it was hard to get that type of discipline. He’d say something else or come up with a different argument.

    “He also has this incredible sense of exaggeration. Like, I don’t know how many times he’ll say, ‘This is the most corrupt act in the history of Western Civilization,’ or ‘the most despicable.’ You can only say that so many times. So to me, I just didn’t see him having the sense of discipline or the sense of direction that’s really needed.”

    And the most stinging (for Newt, anyway)

    King said the “most egregious example” of Gingrich hurting the party in recent memory was his comment on “Meet the Press” that Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which had become a banner for the party in the budget battles, was “right-wing social engineering.”

    “If we do have an intellectual in the party right now, it’s Paul Ryan, and whether you agree with what he’s saying on Medicare—all or part of it, and any Republicans should at least agree with most of it—and if you’re going to disagree, you do it in a respectful way,” King said. “The guy has put his political career on the line for this and he’s put a lot of effort into it and to just dismiss it in the cavalier way that Newt did—if anyone had done that to Newt, he would have been offended forever.

    “And I would say Ryan has real intellectual substance, unlike Newt who is sort of superficial on a lot of stuff. You can mention so many books you’ve read and all that. But any guy who talks about it that much isn’t usually as smart as he says he is.

    Ouch.

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  4. Hey Norm says:

    He got run out of town on a friggin’ rail…Coburn is pulling punches when he says his leadership was lacking at times.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Coburn is pulling punches when he says his leadership was lacking at times.

    Well, banging congressional aides is hard work, you know.

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  6. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    On the other hand, who cares about what a bunch of Eastern establishment RINOs say about Newt?

    See how easy that is? Negation by faith–works every time!

    ““And I would say Ryan has real intellectual substance”

    Rep. King does realize that he’s talking about the guy who says that Atlas Shrugged is the most important book that he’s ever read, right?

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  7. anjin-san says:

    the guy who says that Atlas Shrugged is the most important book that he’s ever read, right?

    Hey, when I was 22 I felt exactly the same way.

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  8. MBunge says:

    “And I would say Ryan has real intellectual substance, unlike Newt”

    There’s judgment you can trust.

    Mike

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  9. MBunge says:

    @Tano: “There are probably very few people who really like Newt – and the ones that do are just not paying attention.”

    I’m sorry, but isn’t that just a dressed up version of “Which candidate do I want to have a beer with?”

    Mike

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