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Coburn: I don’t think I can judge that. I think we’re going to judge that after we’ve left. And you’re going across two administrations with different policies and different viewpoints. I think ultimately what you’re going to see is that the power of ideas is more powerful than the power of weapons. And what our America led the world in and can lead again in is the power of ideas. People are aspirational toward our values, our rule of law, our freedom, our liberty, our limited government. And we’re clouding that picture sometimes by what we do. My foreign policy is limited in its expertise, but I actually believe the Constitution. I actually don’t believe we ought to get involved in things unless we have a direct national security issue.
reason: So what about Syria right now. Should we stand on the sidelines?
Coburn: Well, if we want to help arm people so they can fight for themselves, I have no problem with that. We should not be directly involved in Syria.
reason: Do you feel that this is something that conservatives are coming around to?
Coburn: I really don’t know the answer to it. People have all sorts of views. What we do is learn from mistakes and we ought to not close our eyes and ears to that. And I think there’s lots to be learned over the last 10 years.
We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on homeland security. Can anyone guarantee us that we’re not going to be attacked again? No. Can we lessen that to a significant degree? Yes. For each additional dollar we put in, what do we get in return? You’ve never heard a president having that conversation with the American people. There are risks out there. We can do so much. But if we spend additional dollars here, we made the de minimus reduction in risk versus if we spent the same amount of money trying to cure breast cancer, we’d get a whole lot more.
reason: You were one of the authors of the partial birth abortion ban act. And you cited the Commerce Clause as the justification for that. So how does the Commerce Clause apply in that case?
Coburn: The same way it might apply to an Equal Rights Amendment or a civil rights amendment. Go back to our Founding documents: “We’re endowed by our Creator,” “pursuit of life,” “pursuit of happiness.” You cannot pursue life if we’ve said we can take your life at our whim. It really is more a fundamental issue than the Commerce Clause.
reason: You talked with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan about this during her confirmation hearings. But you come from a natural rights tradition. You would be against abortion in all circumstances?
Coburn: Except to save the life of a mother.
reason: Over your political career, you’ve been a staunch social conservative as well as a fiscal conservative. When you were a congressman, you supported “V-chip” legislation, which was mandatory hardware in TV so that parents could block certain shows.
Coburn: But there’s a difference there. Parents didn’t have to block, it gave them the opportunity to block.
reason: OK. But it’s still a mandate on TV producers.
Coburn: That’s right. Just like we have a mandate that you have safety cord on a coffee pot. So that you’re not electrocuted when the coffee spills over.
reason: OK, that seems a lot different than saying that Bugs Bunny.…