The political world this week is still rotating around Donald Trump’s statements on Monday that the United States should temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the country — even if they are American citizens (though Trump later clarified this part). As the New York Times reports, Trump is standing firm by his comments as Republicans and Democrats alike have strongly condemned his words:
Repudiated across much of the political spectrum but defended on conservative talk radio, Donald J. Trump on Tuesday stood by his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States. He cast it as a temporary move in response to terrorism and invoked President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s authorization of the detention of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants during World War II as precedent.
Critics including both the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, a Republican, and the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat, assailed Mr. Trump’s proposal as self-defeating and un-American.
“Tell Donald Trump: Hate is not an American value,” Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter. The “super PAC” supporting Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, unveiled its first ad attacking Mr. Trump, and the White House said Mr. Trump had disqualified himself from serving as president.
Here in Colorado, Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver tracked down various elected officials in our state and found near unanimous condemnation of Trump’s comments:
“There’s a legitimate debate over President Obama’s weak and failed policies on dealing with terrorism and the Islamic state, but that debate gets totally derailed when Donald Trump says these highly irresponsible and inflammatory things, like banning all Muslims from entering the United States,” says Dick Wadhams, a veteran republican consultant and the former head of the Colorado Republican Party…
…Republican members of Colorado’s congressional delegation also weighed in with Sen. Cory Gardner calling Trump a “buffoon.”
Rep. Scott Tipton said, “This is not conservatism. It’s not what this country or this party stands for. Those who are calling for our country to ban refugees who practice the Muslim faith couldn’t be more wrong and have no place in the discussion. I will remind them that we are a nation founded on the principle of religious liberty for all, and that is sacred.”…
…And, Rep. Ken Buck said Trump shouldn’t even be running for president.
“Trump’s proposal violates the Constitution, the values of our nation, the Republican Party platform, and my conscience. He should withdraw from the Presidential race. He is a fraud,” said Buck.
Colorado is not home to a very large Muslim population, but the majority of them live in Congressional District 6 — the home of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). According to CBS4 Denver, Coffman issued his own statement responding to Trump’s comments…sort of:
“As a Marine Corps combat veteran, I know what it takes to protect our country and as a member of Congress, I always have and always will represent all of the citizens of my district, regardless of their religious affiliation, and protect their constitutional rights.” [Pols emphasis]
Mike Coffman was in the Marines and he promises to represent all of the citizens of his district. That’s nice. What Coffman does not say, however, is anything that sounds even close to a repudiation of Trump’s comments. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus both came down hard on Trump. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) calls Trump “a buffoon”; Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) says that Trump’s comments are “not what this country or this party stands for”; and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) flat-out calls Trump a “fraud.”
Coffman? He was in the Marines.
And here’s the worst part for Coffman: He swung and missed twice on this question. Coffman had at least two different opportunities to criticize Trump and to say that his comments don’t represent Republican/Colorado values. Coffman whiffed on the question on Monday, as Marc Stewart of Denver Channel 7 Tweets:
— Marc Stewart Denver7 (@MarcKMGH) December 8, 2015
Using a lot of words to say a lot of nothing is a pretty standard approach for Coffman — on any issue — but there’s no reason for him to refuse to condemn Trump unless he just flat-out agrees with the Republican Presidential frontrunner. With so many other Republicans coming out in force against Trump, Coffman has plenty of cover to say whatever he wants. He. Just. Doesn’t.
What makes Coffman’s silence all the more damning are comments he made last week at a luncheon in Washington D.C. when describing his district:
“I have one of the most diverse districts in the United States,” Coffman stated. “It has a very large Hispanic population of 20 percent. It has a very large Asian immigrant population and a very large African immigrant population. I probably have the third largest community of Ethiopians in the United States, not to mention the other African immigrant communities within my district.”
Coffman is very aware of the diversity of his district and the fact that CD-6 is home to perhaps the largest Muslim population in Colorado. We know he knows this; he just doesn’t care.
In the last week, Coffman has also refused to condemn the remarks of State Rep. JoAnn Windholz, whose Commerce City district is within the boundaries of CD-6, even though his hometown paper called for Windholz to resign over her disgusting comments in the wake of the Planned Parenthood terrorist attack. Coffman had plenty of cover here, too, to speak out about Windholz’s statements, and he just skipped right along in silence.
Does Mike Coffman believe that Donald Trump is right in saying that the United States should temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the country? Does Mike Coffman believe that the Planned Parenthood attacks were the fault of Planned Parenthood (which is Windholz’s belief)? We don’t know, because he won’t say.
And it speaks volumes.