BAGHDAD " Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, strode through the great dome of Saddam Hussein's Baghdad palace " now the temporary United States Embassy " with an air about him like he does it every day, and that he's not all that impressed by it.
With a staunchly conservative reputation, legendary for demanding cuts in spending, and as unwavering a Republican as he is devoutly religious, Coburn said several things that one might think surprising:
" He criticized the Bush administration for its lack of vision in the war.
" He criticized the administration's spending on the war.
" He advocated millions in direct humanitarian foreign aid for the people of Iraq.
Foreign aid? What about all those proposed spending cuts?
Cut fraud, overspending and abuse, he said. Plenty afterward for the important stuff, like saving Iraq.
"We could have tax cuts, pay for the war, and get rid of spending, and dig ourselves out of an economic slowdown," Coburn insisted.
On the United States' current position in the war, Coburn said, "I'd say we are kicking butt big time. It's not just the surge; it's the combination of the awakening, that the Sunnis really had it wrong when the decided not to participate and al-Qaida really, really messed up in terms of their "thugginess," and the fact that we combined the surge at the same time all those things are happening. I think it's somewhat providential for us. Not just for the Iraqis, but for us. But it's also critical for our future that we do this right." "Ben Fenwick
Read more about Ben Fenwick's Thunderbird travels.