Senator Tom Coburn Is a Man of Consistency and Principle, Except When He Is Not

Reasonable Young Conservative™ Ross Douthat is in the Times today explaining to readers why Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is a man to be

respected and reckoned with

. In a Washington full of feckless, mushy moderates, Coburn is a “conservative’s conservative”—which makes him, Douthat writes, “more intellectually honest about the consequences of popular legislation.”

Coburn, according to Douthat, has “ideological rigor”; he is “ideologically consistent.” He has “unwavering convictions.” He may be just what Washington needs!

For reference, here’s the consistent, rigorous, intellectually honest Sen. Coburn on July 16, 2009, challenging Supreme Court justice-to-be Sonia Sotomayor on the question of whether it’s ever appropriate for American law to be

tainted by consideration of foreign law


COBURN: Yesterday, you – when I was asking you about foreign law, you said I should read your speech, so I did. I read your speech. So I want to come back to that for a minute, because I want to ask you the same question I’ve asked the only other two Supreme Court nominees that have come before the committee while I’ve sat on this committee.

And I want to ask you the same question. I – my first statements yesterday was asking about whether you disagreed with Alito and Thomas, and you said basically you agree. So on the basis of that agreement, will you affirm to this committee and the American public that, outside of where you are directed to do so through statute or through treaty, refrain from using foreign law in making the decisions that you make that affect this country and the opinions that you write?

SOTOMAYOR: I will not use foreign law to interpret the Constitution or American statutes. I will use American law, constitutional law to interpret those laws except in the situations where American law directs the court.

COBURN: Thank you.

And here is Coburn, a few minutes later, decrying the fact that American abortion laws are so much less restrictive than the abortion laws in foreign countries:

COBURN: And so what I was trying to draw out to you is, where do we stand in this country, when 80 percent of the rest of the world allows abortion only before 12 weeks, only before 12 weeks? And yet we allow it for any reason at any time for any inconvenience under the health-of-the-woman aspect.

So foreign law is anathema, except where it contradicts with American law in a way that suits Tom Coburn’s beliefs.