Poor John Is Daid


The American Spectator's "Prowler" dishes a rumor I'd been hearing, too, most recently before the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Sen. Tom Coburn is mulling an entry into the Republican presidential primary, according to sources inside and outside the Senate. Coburn, a senator from Oklahoma, is believed to be receiving encouragement from a small group of wealthy businessmen and philanthropists in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Texas region of the country.

… "He's not bound to any timetable or any fundraising imperative," says a longtime adviser to Coburn, who has spoken with him. "What's important for him is that there is no other true, Reagan conservative in the race, and he thinks he can fill that void."

Coburn is believed to have the backing of several low-profile members of the so called "Swift Boaters," men who financed the ads that doomed the presidential aspirations of Sen. John Kerry.

I've also heard support for this from people allied with the Club for Growth. There are two stories here: The weakness of the GOP field and the weakness of John McCain in particular. Despite Mitt Romney's steady rise in polls, conservative donors and voters who had cohered at the start of the decade are still bobbing and flailing around for a candidate to support. None of the 2nd tier candidates are rising up—for all of his charm, Mike Huckabee's governing record is too squishy to win over a plurality of conservatives.

And the issue running through all of that is McCain's weakness. Coburn's claim to fame is his zealous opposition to earmarks and new spending. The senator who used to be identified with that cause was… John McCain. Former McCain ally Fred Thompson thinks he's feeble enough to knock out of the race, and spending hawks who once adored McCain have given up on him, having seen him break faith on too many issues.

The new issue of reason (with the psychedelic Jesus cover) has a long interview/profile with our 44th president.