Like It Or Not, Mike Coffman Owns The Shutdown


Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank began yesterday's column on "the Cruzification of the GOP" thusly:

When a poll came out this week showing that the government shutdown was putting Republican Mike Coffman in danger of losing his Colorado congressional seat, the lawmaker responded with the serenity of martyrs through the ages.

“Whatever the consequences of doing what’s right,” he told a Denver TV station, “I’m willing to take those consequences.”

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Rep. Mike Coffman's resolve to stand with his fellow House Republicans and allow the federal government to shut down, as occurred beginning the first of this month, was amply demonstrated. Coffman told reporters that "this is a negotiation," very much in approval of using the shutdown as a negotiating tactic. We also want to note for the record this C-SPAN video clip from debate just before the shutdown. Coffman upbraids Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman for not "reading" the GOP's bill, and reassuring Waxman that "those reforms in place in the provisions of Obamacare prior to 1 October, will remain in place." 

But as our readers know, in the end Rep. Coffman lacked the courage of Sydney Carton before the guillotine in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. As the shutdown of the federal government entered its second week, Coffman appeared to break with his colleagues by claiming support for a "clean" continuing resolution, reopening the federal government without the demanded delay or "defunding" of the Affordable Care Act. The next day, however, Coffman abandoned that promise, telling the Denver Post he wanted some kind of unspecified bigger bargain that included renewal of the government's borrowing authority. Coffman also said he would not sign on to a Democratic attempt to force the House to vote on a "clean" resolution.

Coffman enjoyed a round of highly favorable press when he announced his support for a "clean" continuing resolution to reopen the government. His abandonment of that promise a day later received much less attention. But the fact is, every day this shutdown drags on, Coffman takes damage simply for being part of the Republican House majority the public holds responsible for the whole mess. Coffman's waffling on the shutdown, then waffling on his waffling, contribute to a growing narrative of untrustworthiness–like paying lip service to DREAMer students before voting against them, or justifying his vote for abortion restrictions by highlighting exemptions he used to oppose. Just because the lede got buried this time doesn't mean Coffman's intransigence and doubletalk won't be used against him in the long election cycle that lies ahead (sorry, Vince Carroll).

Mike Coffman, perhaps more than any politician in America after redistricting in 2010, must juggle his ideological loyalties with the opposed interests of his increasingly outraged constituents. The lesson may be, at least in Coffman's case, that's just impossible.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. roccoprahn says:

    The 2 questions, to which the economic future of the world hangs in the balance:

    1). Are there 18 pinkos in competitive Districts? Are there even 18 pinko but turnable Districts? 18 Districts in which a majority of republicans know Social Security and Medicare are Federal programs?

    2). If so, are they willing to sacrifice 174,000.00 per annum plus royalty like benefits and perks? 174K for voting drunk, missing votes, and repeating to the red base "he ain't no citizen!!!!!"? Just for a vote that saves the country?

    Two fascinating questions. 

    Are they willing to be primaried by hacks lower in the food chain even than them? Are those 18 ready to join the ranks of working people that aren't assured, as in coffman's case, 3 pensions irregardless? Lifetime inexpensive but excellent healthcare? 

  2. davebarnes says:

    "Mike Coffman Owns The Shutdown" is not necessarily true. Perception is everything. If the voters don't blame him, then he does not own.

  3. itlduso says:

    Coffman doesn't own the shutdown in the eyes of the Denver Post editorial staff.  They should be made to retract the favorable editorial praising Coffman's "bipartisanship" in calling for an end to the shutdown.  Unfortunately, that ain't going to happen.  It goes without saying that far more people read the Denver Post than COPols.

    When this crisis began, COPols thought there would be clear winners and losers.  Well, now about 23% of the public think the GOP is more responsible than the Dems.  That means that out of five voters, 2 think it's the Dems fault and 3 think it's the GOP fault.  Not really a landslide, particularly since we are 13 months from the election. 

    I thought there were going to be commercials run against Coffman — I haven't seen them (maybe they are airing — I only watch DVR'd television and skip all commercials).  Paid commercials attacking Coffman and positive ads for Romanoff are the only way to make Coffman pay a price that will mean something in November, 2014.

    • Tom says:

      I somewhat agree with your point, but your math is a bit off. Out of 5 voters, 1 (1.15) will blame the Dems and 4 (3.85) will blame the GOP based on the polling. I know it's silly to actually work out the sums based on polls, but 77% of the public giving Republicans the frowny face right now on teh shutdown does seem to be in the landslide area.

      I get your point that how the situation plays out, what the aftermath is, how it's spun and how that works on the district level are totally different things. If people don't believe that Coffman is a weasely bastard, his weasely actions don't really matter.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Don't wory about the opinion editors who dance to Singletons tune.  I'm sure Andrew Romanoffs opposition research staff are chronicling every one of Mike's flips and flops.  Now if Andrew has the political acumen to raise the money needed for those ads which is iffy at this point but since Coffman is so vulnerable, the race should be a money magnet.  Voters in 2014 are going to be reminded ad nauseum about Mikes two faced positions on the shutdown.  He shouldn't have backtracked in such a publically visible manner.

  4. notaskinnycook says:

    This is breathtaking. The Teabaggers seem to think the way out of this hole they've dug themselves into is to keep digging.          

  5. notaskinnycook says:

    And I just checked Roll Call; Coffman voted for this monstrosity. The Democratic campaign ads just write themselves

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