President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, who shared a hug after last year’s State of the Union speech, met up again Tuesday night before the annual speech in the House chamber, where the president commented to Coburn that he had shaved his beard. Coburn had for the last several weeks been sporting his traditional winter beard but returned to Washington this week clean shaven. The microphone picked up Obama telling Coburn something that sounded like the beard had been scruffy (if you’ve got that recorded and have the exact wording, we’d love to see it!)
Here’s an Associated Press picture of the beard:
Obama and Coburn have been friends since they were elected to the U.S. Senate together in 2004, and they still talk on occasion.
If Coburn felt insulted, he definitely got back at the president with his post-speech remarks. Here are some of them:
“The president had an opportunity to give budget and entitlement reform real momentum but stopped short. He did what presidents often do and deferred the hard choices to Congress. No doors were slammed, and areas for cooperation remain open. Yet, the task of putting our nation on a sustainable path will be much more difficult absent strong presidential leadership.
“The president’s biggest push was to advance an argument he has made many times in the past – that the government is a vital partner in making investments and spurring innovation. The problem is we’ve had countless Sputnik moments in recent decades that have created little more than space junk. Congress continuously launches programs with great fanfare but rarely tracks or measures their progress. Then, when we want launch a new program we’re surprised when it overlaps with an existing program.”
UPDATE: Thanks to an anonymous tip, we got a CNN clip of the exchange. And it definitely sounds like “scruffy.”