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February 13, 2015 03:20 PM UTC

It's Okay, Because Mad Mike Coffman Was in the Military

  • by: Colorado Pols
Arrggghh!!! Mike Mad!!! Mike SMASH!!!
Arrggghh!!! Mike Mad!!! Mike SMASH!!!

FRIDAY UPDATE: The White House talks to 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman about Coffman's antics, calling him a "pretty aggressive antagonist."


Washington D.C. has been abuzz about a spat between Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Veterans Administration Secretary Bob McDonald during a House Committee hearing yesterday. Coffman was grilling McDonald during a meeting of the House Veterans Affairs Committee when McDonald took exception to Coffman's grandstanding on the issue of a new VA Hospital in Aurora. From the Associated Press:

McDonald was defending the VA's budget at a hearing when he and Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman tussled over construction delays and cost increases at the long-delayed hospital project. After a few minutes of arguing, McDonald snapped at Coffman: "I've run a large company, sir. What have you done?"

Coffman, an Army veteran, did not respond at the hearing. But the four-term lawmaker said in a statement later that he could tell McDonald a few things he hasn't done.

"I have never run a federal agency that tolerates corruption the way the VA has. I've never built a hospital that's years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget. And I've never been a shill for inept bureaucrats who allowed American heroes to die on a medical waiting list," he said.

Conservative media outlets are all up in arms that someone would dare question Mad Mike Coffman because Coffman is an Army and Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and it's his job to be a raging asshole, or something (more on that in a moment). We transcribed the relevant section of the hearing below, but it's important to watch the video so you can see the context in which this occurred. It's also important tor remember this key fact: a former Proctor and Gamble CEO, McDonald was sworn-in as the new VA Secretary on July 30, 2014 (following the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki), which means he's only been in office for 6 months. Knowing this, read the transcipt and watch the video, and then see if you can tell us why you wouldn't have had a problem with a Congressman telling you that you are not going to do your job:

Rep. Coffman: This is a department mired in beaurocratic incompetence and corruption. And I've gotta tell you, I think the pubic relations is great today. But there's no substance. There is…no…substance…

Sec. McDonald: I'm highly offended by your comments, Mr. Coffman…

Rep. Coffman: [Holds up a hand and says, “Let me finish…”] I fundamentally believe, that as unfortunate as it is, that at the end of the day — at the end of this President's term — that you will not have made a difference in changing the culture of this organization…by virtue of the fact that you continue to gloss over its problems.

Sec. McDonald: I am offended by your comment. Actually, I've been here 6 months. You've been here longer than I have. If there's a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.

I found it ironic that when I went out to L.A. [Los Angeles] to solve a 4-year-old lawsuit, you were busy calling for a hearing to discover what happened five years ago. I'm working on the future, sir, and I'm going to correct the past. But I'm working on the future, because that's what our veterans want.

Rep. Coffman: For you to say that you are going to the Army Corp of Engineers to advise you as to how to correct the extraordinary problems…let me tell you, I think what you need to do is focus on providing the healthcare benefits that the veterans have earned, and get out of the construction management business…and to cede it to the Army Corps of Engineers…Each major construction project is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and you are behind schedule. That's a problem.

Sec. McDonald: We work very closely with the Corps of Engineers. General Bostwick…he has told us he does not want total responsibility for all of the VA's construction. We're going to work with him. We're going to find out the right balance of that. We're doing that in Denver, as you know, and we appreciate your help to get that building finished, and get it finished for a good value for taxpayers.

Rep. Coffman: I hope…I hope you can make a difference. I hope you can.

Sec. McDonald: Maybe I'll give you my cell phone tonight, and you can answer the calls, and see if I'm making a difference for veterans, and see what they say. Or go on the websites — see what the veterans are saying on the websites. Ask the VSOs in the next group…I've run a large company, sir. What have you done?

Rep. Coffman: The fundamental challenge is for this organization to reflect your values, and I'm not sure that that's going to happen and I hope that it does.

As you can see in the video (after the jump), Coffman was trying to interrupt and doesn't appear to have initially heard Sec. McDonald when the latter said, "I've run a large company, sir. What have you done?" Coffman's office later issued an angry statement in response, and then the Concerned Veterans for America (a group funded by the infamous Koch Brothers) started stomping their feet and demanding that Sec. McDonald apologize to poor old Mad Mike:

Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, said McDonald was “disrespectful” of Coffman, who is the only member of Congress to serve in both Iraq wars, and demanded an apology…

…“Not only did Secretary McDonald attempt to shift blame for VA hospital construction delays and cost overruns for a facility in Rep. Coffman’s district, but he then unbelievably spouted, ‘I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?’ to a 22-year Marine Corps and Army veteran who served in both Iraq wars,” Hegseth added…

Hegseth said it’s Coffman’s job to ask questions related to VA oversight, and said Coffman has pointed out several VA management failures over the last several years. [Pols emphasis]

Let's see if we can get this straight: Rep. Coffman tells the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that he is not going to make a difference in changing the culture of the VA (even though McDonald has only been in office for 6 months), and it's McDonald who should apologize because Coffman is a veteran? And don't forget — Coffman has "pointed out several VA management failures over the last several years." Great work, Congressman!

We respect Coffman's military service, but serving in Iraq doesn't give him a free pass to berate anyone who dares challenge him. Mad Mike Coffman was often on display during debates last fall with Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff, demanding respect for his military record — which Romanoff always made a point to applaud — while criticizing Romanoff for having an Ivy League education. Arizona Sen. John McCain famously overplayed his own military background during his 2008 campaign for President, and Coffman doesn't have a fraction of McCain's story to tell. If McCain, a decorated Navy pilot and Prisoner of War, can go too far in using his military record as an excuse for everything…well, so can Coffman.



15 thoughts on “It’s Okay, Because Mad Mike Coffman Was in the Military

  1. I wont disparage Coffman's active service (though I do wonder if he has ever had a private sector job, or is he one of the Romney 47%) but where was his "oversight" 6 years ago?


    How does the US Congressman have a large federal constrution project in his district go 5 1/2 years with hardley a peep, doesn't get tagged for any of the failure and then challenge the new guy?  The new guy might suck  – and the construction project might be a riduculus boondaoggle – but how is none of it  tagged on the Congressman?



    1. "none of it tagged on the Congressman?"

      because … republican messaging 101 (aka things that you learned on the kindergarten playground) … he said it first.

    2. Coffman may be a slogan-spouting idiot, but apparently he has great staff. I hear from people in District 6 that his office has done good advocacy work for veterans tangling with the VA in Colorado, some branches of which still have the longest wait times in the nation.

      So Mikey is able to paint himself as the warrior against bureaucracy, whether or not that has any basis in fact. Any competent Congressional staff will intercede with a Federal agency. Perlmutter's is the gold standard, but apparently Coffman's isn't far behind.

      1. I do think Coffman cares about vets but he cares more about attacking anyone in the administration, even trying to pin long standing problems on someone who, unlike himself, has only been dealing with them for 6 months. For the most part, Coffman has gone along voting with his fellow GOTPers for the top .1% and  against vets, though he has pushed to have the problems he cites with the VA hospital in Aurora addressed.  It's painfully clear the guy simply isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

        1. Coffman's problem is he goes overboard even when he's on the right track. He can't just respond to this, he has to go further and talk about how this is the "most arrogant administration evah" and shit.

          I'm glad he's trying to fix the VA situation. But he's an erratic hothead, so there's lots of chances left for him to screw it up.

  2. Yeesh, McDonald was also in the military as a West Point Grad and with the 82nd Airborne for five years.  He probably should have told that leg Coffman to shut the hell up and challenged him to a push up contest.

     Eventually Coffman's going to run up against an opponent who's military record is a bit more burnished, 'ol Mike doesn't exactly have the most high-speed salad bar on his chest for a man who did twenty-plus years, and we should see some pretty good fireworks.

    1. And we've all seen Coffman's pathetic, decidedly non-Marine style push ups. I do better push ups and I'm a small Jewish lady clinging to a self definition of "late middle aged" as opposed to "old" with everything I've got.

    2. Too bad former Dem State Rep Colonel Joe Rice, full Colonel in the  Army Reserves for years now (went from Major to Colonel in a very short time) and still in his 40s, hasn't been interested in reentering politics since he was forced out in 2010 by a nitwit (Conti, who had no idea Reagan ever raised taxes and refused to believe it when I brought it up) backed by a million and a half to take the pre-Rice R seat back for the Rs in an R year. 

      His military record is outstanding, far outshining anything Coffman can boast, and he also was instrumental in getting his interpreter and family the hell out of Iraq and to safety in the US.

      He also made the lists of most effective freshman when he came in and was noted for working across the aisle to get meaningful legislation passed. A go to guy for Rs looking for a D co-sponsor on decent legislation. More "moderate" (pretty conservative leaning on economic issues) than we HD 38 Dems would have preferred but a great guy and exactly the kind we needed then and still need now to break the R hold on our district seat.

      His special expertise in the military was interfacing with Iraqis and he did so with great courage and cultural sensitivity, putting himself in the position of being specially requested for such undertakings by top brass. He could see Coffman's military background and raise it considerably. Also outstanding on constituent service.  

      I don't blame him for exiting politics for a better way of making a living for his family after that defeat but he's still very involved in his issues as a private citizen. We need someone like him to oust Coffman but I'm afraid there isn't anybody to compare.

      1. Seconded, BC. Joe Rice was/is a fine man and would again make a superb candidate, whereas Conti is a complete nincompoop and reactionary Teabag blockhead, unfit to so much as shine Rice's shoes.

          1. Because the money and organizational muscle in the GOP is on the side of reactionaries – when it comes to picking candidates in the primaries.  And then that same money and muscle matter again when those same candidates campaign in the general election.  Voters are secondary – kind of the marketing target once the product represented by the candidate has already been determined, designed and introduced for sale.  And one of the great features of the GOP is that their own voters are loyal, and show up at the polls, and will generally hold their nose and vote for their party's selected candidate – with their eye on the long game.

            Which is why all the action is in the GATEWAY to selection as the candidate.  It isn't about mass appeal.

            Does that answer your question, Moderatus?

          2. Because it's a very low info, low participation spot and with a million and half with lots of TV ads in a little state HD where that kind of money and that level of ads are completely off the charts, it's hard for the natural default party to lose.

            As it was, Joe lost by a very small margin. It was an historically R HD. Joe was the first to be elected to it in something like 35 years and I believe the first ever Dem to be reelected to it. It was a Republican year and your side wanted the seat they considered theirs back badly enough to pull out all the stops. As far as Joe's military record, you can look it up. If you can't offer an iota of respect to man like that then everything you people say about being super patriots who love our military men and women is just a load of crap.

            But once again. I'm talking to myself. You just dropped your stupid line and left.

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