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May 18, 2012 11:30 PM UTC

Coffman's Greatest Asset Now Damaged Goods?

  • by: Colorado Pols

A press release today from the Colorado Democratic Party highlights the significant and quite possibly lasting trouble Rep. Mike Coffman created for himself with his recent recorded statement that President Barack Obama is “not an American.”

Following troubling reports that Congressman Mike Coffman echoed the wild accusations of the birther movement and attacked President Obama’s basic credibility as Commander in Chief, Colorado Democratic Party First Vice-Chair Beverly Benvidez Ryken offered the following response:

“As a proud retired member of the U.S. Air Force, I know the value every active duty service member and veteran places on the leadership of our Commander in Chief. No matter what political party our President belongs to, our military takes pride in respecting the office and following orders. It is the core of our duty.

“The fact that Mike Coffman would hide behind his status as a veteran while making a half-apology shows just how little regard he has for the institutions and traditions that make our nation and our military the greatest on earth. His statements are unworthy of the uniform he once wore and show how extreme Mike Coffman really is.”

We quoted yesterday from an open letter from veterans advocacy group, blasting Coffman for invoking his status as a veteran Marine officer as an defense for his comments about President Obama’s citizenship and national identity. One of our astute readers who frequently comments on veterans and military affairs points to an Army Times article that outlines acceptable limits to political activity by a member of the military:

My favorite UCMJ provision is Article 88, which makes it a crime for an officer to use contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, Congress, the secretary of defense, the secretary of a military department, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, or the governor or legislature of any state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present.

In 1999, Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Davidson explained in a law review article that contemptuous “means insulting, rude, disdainful or otherwise disrespectfully attributing to another qualities of meanness, disreputableness, or worthlessness.”

Based on that definition, we have to say that Coffman’s recent statements about President Obama probably would qualify as a violation of UCMJ Article 88. Our understanding is that Coffman retired from the Marine Corps following his last tour of duty in 2006, though, so we don’t think he can actually be prosecuted for this–we’ll leave that to lawyers to decide.

The real trouble for Coffman coming out of this embarrassment is the way these statements pollute his strongest asset as a candidate, his lengthy military record. It links his otherwise inoffensive boilerplate on duty and “exceptionalism” with discredited fringe conspiracy theories. Combined with the particular offense it could provoke in Coffman’s newly diverse swing district, this was really one of the most injurious things he could possibly have done to himself.

We can’t call this a game-ender in CD-6, but we may look back on it as a game-changer.


19 thoughts on “Coffman’s Greatest Asset Now Damaged Goods?

  1. Whatever happened to the idea of “Once a marine, always a marine”? Semper Fi, forever faithful, etc.

    Mike Coffman basically spit on his uniform.

  2. “Our understanding is that Coffman retired from the Marine Corps following his last tour of duty in 2006, though, so we don’t think he can actually be prosecuted for this–we’ll leave that to lawyers to decide.”

    Than Coffman could be prosecuted under Article 88 of the UCMJ as he would be a retired commissioned officer.  A category that does fall under UCMJ per Article 2 which states:


    (a) The following persons are subject to this chapter:

    (4) Retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay.  

    Asides from him probably being immune from UCMJ action due to his position as a Congressman and the military’s hesitancy to prosecute retirees for merely voicing their opinions.  But the Marine Corps has received a lot of press lately about marines failing to follow orders and having conduct unfitting of a marine….

    1. …I know the USMC will rather leave this alone than weigh into politics.

      The point of this is that Green Zone Coffman has to stop leading with this Marine cred at every campaign stop…because every time he does, THIS comes up.

      If he does sincerely apologize for this dumbassery, then his base dumps on him. The Right-wing-o-verse just sent a message from a noted talk radio dickhead on this….

      Coffman can’t win on this issue. He can still win the election, but he just lost a major brand value to run on.

      1. At some point he will stand up in front of the UVC to walk back his despicable charge against Obama. Although most veterans organizations do not formally support or endorse candidates for office they do have an enormous network that stretches around the world.

        Regardless of their own political beliefs the men and women of the veterans organizations have a strong sense of duty and pride of service. We have all served under a president who we felt was real bad, I served under Nixon, yet we would not undermine that Commander in Chief. What that man has done is beyond anything these good veterans would ever think of doing. He must pay the price.

        Nancy points out the diversity and military sides of Aurora. The military is extremely diverse too. Aurora’s citizens will not like what they hear from that man. There is a small minority, as in most cities and states, that will applaud the guy, just reading the comments in the fish wrap shows they exist to some population. But, they are not the majority. The birthers are the ultimate racists, worthy of the KKK,Birchers and white supremacists.

        That they are in the military, see the resume of the CD 6 leech, and in Congress should be enough to turn good people’s stomach. It should also be alarming enough to find them and vote them out of office and court martial them out of the military.

        I support Joe Miklosi for CD6  

  3. Eun me through thru the numbers, please.

    Registered R’s?

    Same precincts/boundaries how did the President do in 2008?  2004?  Tancredo?

    Maybe it’s just because I haven’t been paying attention – but I don’t see CD6 as a “swing” district – though I do like Joe Miklosi a lot.

    1. Now it does. Been to Aurora lately, particularly north of Iliff? Lots of diversity, by Colorado’s standards. Aurora has large populations of people from the Middle East, Ethiopia, UUSR, Asia, etc. There are also a large number of Latino and African-American residents, particularly in the northern half of Aurora. I can’t imagine the more diverse areas of the city take too kindly too Mr. Coffman trashing our nation’s first African-American President.

      Most of the House and Senate Districts went to Dems in Aurora — Morgan Carroll, Nancy Todd, Rhonda Fields, Suzanne Williams, Sy Ryden. (I’ll let someone else find the numbers.)

      Add to the diversity factor, that Aurora has a good-sized military base, where many people believe in treating the office of the President with respect and deference. Quite frankly, Coffman should be ashamed to show his face in Aurora after what he did. He might as well resign.

      1. Yeah…but they don’t vote anyway, either because their registration is not current or they are unable to register (wink wink)

        Numbers tell the tale- last time I saw them they painted a difficult picture for Joe.

  4. That Ricketts had his 54 page smear campaign ready to roll, Arizona birther SOS Bennett is now threatening to pull the President’s name off the ’12 election ballot unless he receives “a birth certificate I say is valid”, and Coffman comes out with the “Obama’s not an American in his heart”………is no coincidence.

    They know mittens has zero shot at winning this thing.

    This is coordination from the very top of the RNC.

    That the republicans are the cowards they are is not news, but the fucking depths they will sink to to expose them and their party as unworthy of ever representing the American people.

    Twenty five years from now the zombies and schmucks that support them now will deny they did, and the “teabag” Congress will be remembered as the most unproffessional, incompetent, and corrupt in our Nation’s history.            

    1. but I don’t think it’s going to work so well this time. Not nationally and not here.

      As for Coffman, as a long time CD6 resident in a part of Littleton (the real thing. City of) I also think that this birther/ Obama isn’t a real American at heart stuff also damages his other big asset: Being considered more on the moderate side than the far right side. Never mind how true that is.  It’s a common perception here in Purpleville.

      My precinct is one of many in my HD that were and still are in CD6 and that have many moderate and unaffiliated voters who have leaned Dem in the past few elections but have voted for Coffman. To those who aren’t very political or partisan he seems like a decent guy, pretty vanilla, not extreme, with a military resume. Folks here admire that.  It’s how Joe Rice became the first HD38 Dem State House Rep in 35 years.  As an alternative, they’ve had some Dem nobody ever heard of so Coffman was the natural choice.

      Now Coffman’s all over the media as one of those birther/TPers saying very extreme things.  This isn’t the guy many of our middle of the road voters voted for.  The district also has changed to include more Dems. It probably won’t hurt him enough but it certainly puts paid to the image many previously had of him. Another dent in another asset and when  it pops up on TV or the computer screen or in the paper, Miklosi is often also mentioned. Free name rec for the Dem.  Could something really unexpected actually happen?

      Now I’ve pre-used a couple of my weekend comments so have a nice weekend all and I’ll shut up until Monday.  

      1. It’s not enough to flip the race, but it definitely makes it more competitive. The real interesting question is will Coffman continue to make mistakes like this. If he keeps campaigning to his base then this race becomes very competitive.

      2. As another Dem in CD6, I can’t understand why his image is so moderate, when he is in fact, not. Where do you think that came from? I don’t recall many tv commercials. Do you think there has been so little money on the Dem side in previous races here that Coffman got in on name recognition (as the infamous Secretary of State with the federal court case for purging) alone?  

        1. so much as not extreme. Most voters are low info and Dem candidates here have never had anywhere near the money to make a dent. And who can blame the DNC, the DCCC, etc.for failing to throw money away on a district that has been safe R since it was created with no serious D pols lining up to run here.  

          When’s the last time the CD 6 Dem running for congress was someone who had ever held or campaigned for elected office before?  Flerlage, Eng, Winter… these were all people who had never been in so much as an HD race going straight for congress and it’s no surprise that the powers that be never took any of them seriously enough to let them have a chunk of the precious resources that could be spent on serious candidates, such as Perlmutter and John Salazar, in districts the that polled attainable. And why should average voters take them seriously?

          Now at least we have a State House Rep in Miklosi, someone with experience who has demonstrated an ability to win an election. That’s a huge improvement right there.  Before redistricting, nobody like that was bothering.  

          But Nancy.  You’ve clearly been around the block a time or two. I wouldn’t think any of this would be puzzling to you.

          We can always hope for Coffman to keep putting his foot in it and for the media to keep covering it. Maybe a kindly billionaire?  

            1. Nancy’s query has more to do with what the situation has been up to now and I was talking about my CD6 neighborhood. My precinct and other nearby Littleton proper precincts already have a mix more like what we see in the newly drawn CD6 over all. Back in the day, both referenda C and D passed here.  While Salazar was winning the vote here for his Senate seat guess what? Tancredo won these same precincts for his House seat. More recently, my neighbors’ votes here went to Bennet, Hick and… Coffman.

              Meanwhile, the Post letters on the subject the other day all were decrying Coffman’s birther remark and especially his claim that Obama isn’t a real American “in his heart” with none in support. That said, it’s going to take more than a few loony statements this spring to sink Coffman, even with this new and different district.

              It would take continued fringe pandering statements that keep attracting widespread negative local and national media attention over time and only if that elevates the CD to a new level of competitiveness in the eyes of those who provide the big Dem bucks. That would create a different playing field.

                1. To do enough of it combined with enough name rec establishment and getting out the message requires lots of targeted big time money. Against an established incumbent the let’s-all-put-on-a-show-in-the-barn on a shoestring model doesn’t get it done. Trust me.  I’ve been there, done that as a new, naive true believer volunteer.  I still volunteer but with eyes open.

                  None of this is to say that CD6 Dems shouldn’t do whatever they can and give whatever they can this time around.  The more significant the degree of the closing of the usual two to one gap, the better chance Dems have of attracting a strong well known candidate and lots of money to really take advantage of the new district make up in the next cycle.

                  Also, stuff happens. Long story short, that’s how D Linda Newell managed to get elected in my own red state senate district, SD 26.  The appointed (vacancy) GOP incumbent decided not to run in favor of a no hope congressional primary run against Coffman at the last minute, etc. Planets aligned. You definitely want to be doing all you can to position yourself to take maximum advantage of any late game changing developments or juicy scandal.

                  All I’m saying is…  lots more stuff would have to happen to make a Dem takeover of this seat in 2012 possible, even with the new boundaries. Naturally, I hope lots more stuff does.

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