As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reports, Rep. Doug Lamborn continues to reap red-on-red criticism for her remarks, originally publicized by the Colorado Independent last week, that suggested he is actively trying to persuade military commanders to resign in protest of President Barack Obama's policies:
On Sunday night, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, tweeted a link to a story about Lamborn's comments and said, "As a Marine and combat veteran, I know to keep my politics off the battlefield."
And when asked about Lamborn's statement, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, said: "There is no room for partisan politics when it comes to our men and women in uniform."
It was hardly a deluge of criticism compared to what "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC and political opinion writer Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek dumped on Lamborn, a five-term congressman from Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler criticized Lamborn on Twitter, tweeting Saturday that "Lamborn is an embarrassment to our service members and to the great state of #Colorado."
Here's a little more from Kurt Eichenwald's Newsweek column yesterday:
Lamborn is the latest type of political muck America needs to scrape off the bottom of its national shoe: an officeholder so absorbed with his hatred of the opposing party that he is willing to do anything, no matter how much it damages our national security and the underpinnings of our democracy, if it will win him some applause and maybe a couple of votes…
During a question-and-answer period, a member of the audience called on Lamborn to support the troops, “despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House.” (Yeah, this is one of the conspiracy theories making the rounds among the feverish fanatics set: that Obama has secretly filled his administration with fundamentalist jihadists because, ummm…don’t ask me.)
There was a time in our country when politicians considered it to be a sign of leadership and part of their moral obligation to calm folks down when someone voiced some wackadoodle idea. Senator John McCain did that as recently as 2008 when he cautioned some frightened supporters that Obama was “a decent man you don’t have to be afraid of.” Unfortunately, the fact that the crowd booed at McCain’s truth-telling in front of the rabid was a lesson not lost on his fellow-GOPers. And so now, no attack on Obama is too nuts to get a “well, maybe, you don’t know” response.
Lamborn, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, burbled happily at the absurd conspiracy theory voiced by someone in the audience, and then assured the crowd that, in fact, he and his fellow Republicans were doing everything in their power to undermine America…
The Gazette's Schrader dutifully notes Lamborn's "clarification":
Critical media outlets also ignored Lamborn's backtracking clarifications. Lamborn clarified to The Gazette on Friday that he was talking about old policies from President Barack Obama. He offered resignation as an option when his office received complaints from generals and admirals who were riled up about sequestration in 2013 and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010.
The biggest problem, of course, is that makes no sense: Lamborn wasn't responding to a question about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Lamborn was plainly being asked about the present military conflict against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and it was in that context that Lamborn replied he is–in the present tense–"talking to the generals" about their resigning. The words Lamborn used, in the context he used them, are not ambiguous, and reinforce the worst criticisms offered by Lamborn's opponents. Lamborn really was saying he thinks generals should, as Eichenwald explains it, "abandon their troops in the middle of a war."
With all of this in mind, it's not hard to understand why Lamborn's colleagues Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman would be quick to triangulate off these remarks. Gardner and Coffman face tight elections with moderate electorates, and this kind of rhetoric does not impress moderates on either (or neither) side. In fact, comments like these tend to repel the middle-of-the-road voters Gardner and Coffman need to win in November. In the case of Mike "Obama's not an American" Coffman, this is an opportunity to distract from the fact that he's blown the same "dog whistle" himself.
As for Lamborn, there is at least a better-than-even chance that he really doesn't get how bad this looks. As we saw with Lamborn's handling of the Barack Obama "tar baby" gaffe, he may be too shallow, spiteful, or just plain stupid to know better. If that's right, the only ones who can spare the state of Colorado further reputational damage from this collective embarrassment are the voters of the heavily Republican Fifth Congressional District.
How bad does it have to get, CD-5?