Tom Coburn, the beleaguered Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma, has done a number of things that cast doubt on his political instincts, but his decision in 2000 to make himself the lone congressional endorser of Alan Keyes' presidential campaign may take the prize:
"Like Abraham Lincoln, Alan Keyes has the capacity to ignite among us another rebirth of freedom," Coburn said in January 2000. "Alan Keyes will be a great President because the Presidency is not merely a matter of issues and policies but of moral leadership."
"Ambassador Keyes," Coburn added, "has shown repeatedly that he has a better grasp on the issues -- the foreign policy, the fiscal policy, the social policy and all the rest of it -- than any other candidate."
One wonders if Coburn realized then what "all the rest of it" would entail: Did he imagine Keyes would suggest that legalizing automatic weapons would allow Americans to fight the war on terror at home? Or would propose that the IRS should give the descendants of slaves lifetime exemptions from federal income tax as reparations? Or would state that "Christ could not vote for Barack Obama"?
Now that the Illinois Senate race is more a lopsided comedy than anything else (the most recent poll showed Obama beating Keyes by a 68-17 margin), Obama has begun to campaign outside the state to help fellow Democrats. Maybe Keyes should follow suit and make a few trips to stump for his old friend Coburn in Oklahoma.