Time's Klein Sees 'Sedition' in Coburn Comments

When it comes to freedom of speech, liberal journalists are the staunchest of defenders, right? Not so much when it comes to blasting Republican senators opposed to ObamaCare for "borderline sedition" that "comes dangerously close to inciting violence."

That was the complaint of Time's Joe Klein, who griped today on the magazine's Swampland blog about Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) saying:

"The crisis of confidence in this country is now at an apex that has not seen in over 150 years, and that lack of confidence undermines the ability of legitimate governance," he said. "There's a lot of people out there today who...will say, 'I give up on my government,' and rightly so."

Of course, many liberals said similar things about losing faith in their government during the previous administration, one with which Klein had many disagreements, most if not all of which he took to Time's pages or Web site to bluster about. I don't recall any concern from Klein about seditious liberals or Democrats when George Bush or Dick Cheney was the object of harsh rhetoric.

But leave it to a Republican senator to criticize the pork barreling and special exemptions Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given to fellow Democrats to buy a cloture vote, and it's damn near seditious to Klein:

This is borderline sedition. Coburn--who had a friendly relationship with Senator Barack Obama--is saying that giving up on the U.S. government is justified. This helps stoke the hatred of those extremists who see Barack Obama's presidency as illegitimate. It also comes dangerously close to incitement to violence. It certainly deletes Coburn from the list of those who can be considered loyal to the most important American ideals. He should clarify what he means by these statements--and apologize for his hate speech, immediately.

Of course, Klein's read of Coburn's statement is risible on its face, but even if there was anything to Klein's criticism, a little thing called the Constitution stands in the way of leveling charges of sedition against Coburn. Aside from the First Amendment, Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 (emphasis mine) grants protection to speeches from federal legislators in debate:

...They [senators and representatives] shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

But then again, when you're more than willing to overlook the unconstitutionality of federal mandatory health insurance, what's a little freedom of speech between friends?

Congress Health Care Medical Insurance Time Online Media Blogs Government & Press Obama Watch ObamaCare Tom Coburn