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In Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders into Insiders Senator Tom Coburn candidly tells us why so many elected officials fail to live up to their campaign promises and eventually betray the very people who entrusted them to lead in the first place. In a word, it’s careerism. Or another way to say it is the pathology of power.
Coburn, as we all know, stands nearly alone as a man of integrity in the halls of Washington. He is that rare individual who keeps his promises. He promised to honor term limits and he did. He promised to confront, out of control spending and he does. He promised not to put a political career and its insidious thirst for power ahead of his obligation to serve the people of Oklahoma and he continues to keep that promise even in the face of ridicule, not only from his opponents but also his own party. Senator Coburn is indeed rare: He has done his job while honoring principle more than power and desiring character more than a career.
Unfortunately Senator Coburn’s story is not very common – for either party. For example, he tells us of a time when, as a young Congressman, he meet with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to plead that the GOP keep its promise to stop frivolous and dishonest spending. Rather than showing respect for his duties and a respect for the law Senator Lott responded by saying “Well, I’ve got an election coming up in 2,000. After that we can have good government.”
In Breach of Trust Dr. Coburn clearly diagnosis the cancer of careerism but he also proscribes the antidote: It’s very simple – a good dose of character might just be what the doctor ordered.