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Cliff hanger


Gazette staff January 8th, 2013

Now that the dust has settled with the averted fiscal cliff, there are dubious Beltway winners and losers, but among the unequivocal winners is Oklahoma's own U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore. Early on, he urged his Republican colleagues to accept tax hikes on the wealthiest 2 percent and wait until spring to battle over spending cuts, and the political postmortems have been more than kind to him.

cfn3502_cliff+copyCredit: Brad Gregg

“He was pilloried by many within his own party who said that taking Cole’s approach amounted to surrendering before the fight had even started. More than a month later ... it turns out that Cole was, in the main, right,” wrote The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza.

“It’s the difference between tactics (a series of one-off maneuvers with no broad thematic plan) and strategy (that broad, thematic so-called long game). Cole (and [Senate Republican leader Mitch] McConnell) seem to have grasped that the long-range strategy dictated a deal be done on the fiscal cliff with as little public airing of grievances … as possible.”

Now, Cole contends the GOP is in a better position going forward for future negotiations with the White House over spending cuts.

“People can quibble with individual items,” Cole told NPR, “but given the alternatives, this is not only an excellent deal … it’s a compromise on both sides.”

Among Cole's admirers is embattled House Speaker John Boehner, who has installed Cole on three of the most powerful committees — budget, appropriations and rules — on Capitol Hill.

Certainly one of the smartest guys in the House, regardless of what one thinks of his politics, Cole has emerged as the chief statesman of Oklahoma's congressional delegation. Granted, that's a bit like being the chimpanzee who throws the least amount of feces, but, hey, we’ll take it.

 
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