With friends like Tom Coburn, does Obama need enemies?

OPINION - Warm and fuzz feelings aside, sometimes one friend has to let the other friend know that they've gotten a little out of pocket...

The lovefest between President Obama and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has always dumbfounded select extremist sects within the larger political community.

How can a godless socialist be so chummy with some mad scientist (re: an obstetrician) and conservative hell bent on destroying what’s left of the country?

It started back in 2004 when both freshman senators were seated together at dinner during orientation. Their wives hit it off and soon after so did they. So much so that at the National Prayer Breakfast held in November, the president referred to Coburn as his friend and “brother in Christ.” That explains the hugs on the floor of House of Representatives, the playful strokes of hair, and in a past political position for Obama, joint legislation signed by then President Bush.

On his feelings about his personal friend and professional adversary, Coburn said in an interview with Bloomberg TV: “I love the man. I think he’s a neat man. I don’t want him to be president, but I still love him. He is our president. He’s my president. And I disagree with him adamantly on 95 percent of the issues, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a great relationship. And that’s a model people ought to follow.”

It’s hard to argue with a sentiment when thinking about the sourpuss political climate.

Warm and fuzz feelings aside, sometimes one friend has to let the other friend know that they’ve gotten a little out of pocket.

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During a town hall meeting in Northeastern Oklahoma, Coburn was asked if President Obama “wants to destroy America.”

In response, the conservative Republican encouraged the questioner to consider Obama’s background before answering with: “His intent isn’t to destroy. It’s to create dependency because it worked so well for him. I don’t say that critically. Look at people for what they are. Don’t assume ulterior motives. I don’t think he doesn’t love our country. I think he does.”

He added: “As an African-American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them. I just don’t believe they work overall and in the long run they don’t help our country. But he doesn’t know that because his life experience is something different.”

Coburn also encouraged everyone not to be “get mad at the man” but realize that his philosophy is “goofy and wrong.”

Obama’s brother in Christ seems to also be condescension’s favorite cousin.

It’s interesting to read Coburn encourage people to try to understand people of different backgrounds yet he conveniently seems to not escape his own linear views about entitlement programs and who benefits most from them.

While Obama’s white mother did use food stamps (briefly!), the president wasn’t exactly growing up in the ghettos of Hawaii. He lived in a middle class home with his mother and white grandparents. Whatever affirmative action programs Coburn believes Obama benefited from, it was surely statistically a lot less than the white women long proven to reap the benefits of the programs more so than any other group.

The same can be said of food stamps in 2011, in 1992, and every year prior in addition to other social problems.

He can paint entitlement programs under whatever brush he wants to, but I’d encourage him to use every applicable color.

I’m also curious to know how many of Coburn’s colleagues benefited by a government program to earn his medical degree — or if Coburn did himself. One also wonders whether the medical professional would truly want to accept baked goods or chickens as partial payment in services rendered that he spoke fondly of as he reminisced about the “good old days” of American life pre-Medicare in that same town hall meeting.

Of course, even if some of his opinions are muddled in racial stereotyping that ignorance does not automatically make Sen. Coburn a bad person. On their life experiences and it spurring conflicting perspectives, Coburn said of Obama: “The whole idea is, you can’t change anybody you don’t love. If you don’t love them, you can’t change them.”

Well, if President Obama truly finds the Oklahoma conservative his Christian buddy, now might be a great time to pick up the phone and let his pal know that he may not be an awful person, but his gross generalizations about him and black people will surely make a lot of folks feel otherwise. He can tell him he did out of love of friendship…and honesty.