Who Is Tom Cole?

March 21, 2013
Dan Keating

Most Oklahomans know Tom Cole as the successor to J.C. Watts as a congressman from Oklahoma’s Fourth District.  The congressman has been the pillar of the Republicans’ intellectual wing of the Oklahoma delegation because of his broad experience in state politics, first as state senator then as chairman of the state Republican Party and later his stint on the National Republican Committee.

As others may have thought, Tom Cole does not have a Ph.D. from Harvard’s Divinity School, but one from Yale University in history.  He has the background, education and drive to be a leading Republican star in any other time, but today.

Today the Republican Party is fighting for its life.  The president is intent on winning the 2014 election and using sequester or any other means to separate Republicans from normal Americans and their economic concerns with all its stress.

Tom Cole is the general whose time has passed.  All that he learned is helpful but useless given the tactics employed by President Obama.  For instance, in December it was Congressman Cole who implored his colleagues to vote for the tax increases and then tackle spending.  The Republicans gave the president what he wanted and then discovered without substantially more tax increases, there would be no spending cuts.  Thus sequester – with its $800 billion in spending cuts over 10 years – became reality.  In any normal time, Congressman Cole’s logic would work, but not today with this president.

Unfortunately, it would seem the political urgency is solely appreciated by Congressman James Lankford and “I’ve got your back” colleagues Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin.  Both freshman  will not put up with more blabber and no action.  This attitude has not sat well with those congressmen with more seniority. Oklahomans know that their Tea Party Congressmen will not let them down or cry in public as does the Speaker.

If you want to understand more about Tom Cole and his attitude toward the Tea Party and errant young congressman, a good place to look is the March 4 edition of the New Yorker.  No magazine in America crystallizes liberal opinion better than the New Yorker.

The article on page 36 is entitled “The House of Pain” and the byline goes “Can Eric Cantor, the Republican Majority Leader, redeem his Party and Himself?”

Hitting to the message, the story goes, “The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has often shown willingness to compromise, but for more than two years he has been stymied by a small and unruly group of right wingers, led by his deputy, Eric Cantor.”

As Clint Eastwood used to say, “Marvelous.”  One needs to appreciate the “small” reference.  That small group won back the House in 2010. “Unruly?” These folks have bent over backwards to accommodate compromise.  They now know comprise will not happen with Obama.  Unfortunately, the more “experienced” congressmen see it otherwise.

To the New Yorker’s delight they write, ”Tom Cole, of Oklahoma, who is sixty-three and has served for a decade in the House, recently emerged as the leader of a large faction of House Republicans who believe the Tea-Party-inspired congressmen are dooming the Party.”

The Party has been doomed ever since President Reagan pulled the Bush family’s prospects from the ashes.  From “No new taxes” to the Iraq War and near depression, the Bush’s have done very well financially, but America has suffered.  The Bush’s brought us Clinton and Obama. Now another Bush emerges.

The Tea Party is about saving the country.   Most “seniority” politicians are strictly in it for their own gain.

Where is Tom Cole? Is his plan to so gentlemanly oust Eric Cantor?  It may well be since replacing Senators Jim Inhofe and Dr. Tom Coburn may be out of his reach.  Oklahoma is a Tea Party state and anyone playing the generalist of bygone political battles will not be considered.  Today it’s about saving the country and its values straight up.  If you can go to the mat for these ideas, you are a keeper – if you can’t, get another job.