Fair and Unbalanced

Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Karl Rove’s sad, mad, pretend JeffCo coffee klatchers

Littwin: Karl Rove’s sad, mad, pretend JeffCo coffee klatchers

It’s no mystery why Republicans keep losing the women’s vote in Colorado (personhood/abortion/birth control). But if you’re even slightly confused, come with me for a trip into the magical world of Karl Rove via his Crossroads GPS way-way-back machine.

The setting for Rove’s latest campaign ad is a suburban kitchen, presumably somewhere in Jefferson County, because all Colorado elections are decided in kitchens somewhere in Jefferson County.

We zoom in on a coffee cup and then, strangely, on a woman’s, uh, profile — possibly to signal the viewer that this campaign ad is about women drinking coffee. And as the camera pulls back, it reveals four such women standing around one of those granite-top kitchen island things, doing what Jefferson County women presumably do — stand around and complain about Mark Udall’s Senate campaign’s insistence on talking about, you know, female stuff (personhood/abortion/birth control) instead of the real issues, which we’ll get to in a minute.

These are actors, you quickly realize. There are at least two giveaways.

In this kitchen, there’s one issue. It’s Keystone and Keystone only. I guess Karl Rove doesn’t know that if you hear people talking about Keystone in Colorado, they’re probably discussing next season’s ski package, not a proposed pipeline that would come nowhere near the state.

One, real people don’t actually talk this way. Here’s a sample piece of caffeinated conversation in Rove’s world o’ kitchens: “Unfortunately, after 15 years in Washington, political scare tactics are all Mark Udall has left.”

“Political scare tactics” are, of course, words that have never been said consecutively in anyone’s kitchen, but they are a handy euphemism for personhood/abortion/birth control, which is all Udall talks about because, well, you know. Not surprisingly, personhood/abortion/birth control are words the Karl Rove stand-ins never utter.

And two, as the 30 seconds slip agonizingly by, you realize something else: that maybe too much caffeine is involved. These women are, well, miffed. No, they’re more than that. They’re angry. And it’s not just your everyday stressed-out anger at the world, it’s more like they are auditioning for a guest spot on Hannity.

If there’s anything you know about affable Mark Udall, the mountain-climbing senator, it’s that, whatever else, no one is mad at the guy. Except, I guess, Karl Rove, who imagines that Jefferson County women are — dare I, a reconstructed male, use the word in 21st century America? — this annoyingly, umm, shrill.

It’s not me who’s saying it (really, it’s not). It’s Karl Rove, who is betting Crossroad GPS millions that these are the kind of women that Jefferson County’s female voting population — or any other population — could relate to or even recognize.

This is less a coffee klatch than it is a desperate cry for an anger-management class. And what are the Jeffco Four so mad about? It’s not the Hobby Lobby kitchen decor. And it’s not the cookies and fruit put out with the coffee and cream. They’re tired, they say, of being treated as single-issue voters.

“Shouldn’t Mark Udall talk about the issues?” one woman asks.

“Udall voted against Keystone,” one replies.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only issue discussed. I’m serious. One woman does say that Udall voted 99 percent of the time with Obama, as you may have heard Cory Gardner mention once or twice. But for issues in this kitchen, it’s Keystone and Keystone only. I guess Rove doesn’t know that if you hear people talking about Keystone in Colorado, they’re probably discussing next season’s ski package and not a proposed pipeline that would come nowhere near the state.

And yet, Karl Rove apparently envisions unaffiliated voters in kitchens across Colorado slamming their hands on their kitchen islands, even at risk of spilling the coffee, and screaming, “Dammit, when is Udall gonna come clean on Keystone??!!!!”

Yes, Keystone. Not immigration reform. Not Obamacare. Not over-the-counter birth control. Not ISIS. Not entitlements. Not the debt. Not guns. Not NSA. Not long-term unemployment. Not equal pay for women. Not same-sex marriage. Not the economy. Not income inequality. Not Broncos-Seahawks.

You get the feeling that somebody is ripping Rove off? The last Crossroads GPS commercial I remember starred a woman called “Richelle” asking Udall to repeal Obamacare because the program had forced her to go back to work. Except that simple fact-checking (by KDVR’s Eli Stokols) showed that she had gone back to work before there was an Obamacare because, she said, her family needed the money. Whatever financial problems her family had, they had nothing to do with Obamacare (or, just guessing, Keystone).

If you’re going to make the argument that Democrats won’t talk about anything but abortion rights and birth control, do you make it by talking about pipelines?

Michael Bennet beat Ken Buck by 17 points among women in the last Colorado Senate race. That number underlies the thinking in every Udall ad. What the strategists understand is that personhood is not just about personhood. The reason Gardner is desperate to change the subject is that personhood stands for every issue in which so many middle class suburban women find Colorado Republicans standing somewhere in the last century.

That’s why in Udall’s latest commercial, he asks people — including these same Rove-targeted women, who may not, in fact, spend their lives standing in a kitchen — to check their calendars. Let’s face it, that granite-top kitchen island is right out of the 1990s.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin


  1. Will Morrison on said:

    I’ve seen this commercial. Like very other right wing commercial, it insults your intelligence dramatically.

    Rove and his boys are living under the delusion that you and I don’t know what’s important to us. They think we are too stupid to know what side to breathe out of and can be led to where they want just by uttering a few phrases and catchwords. He clearly didn’t learn anything from the last election where he lost his shorts and about $300 million. Not the sharpest tack in the box, that one.

    Anyone who falls for republican “ideas” doesn’t have the ability to look forward and project. Those people are dangerous to the rest of us who DO possess that ability.

  2. steve sinn on said:

    Mike, I see your 60’s era hippy mentality is still with you along with your long hair. Your tortured column about the women in the kitchen and Udall misses the whole point of the ad (but then, you know the point). It is about Udall not really representing Colorado any longer. Udall caught Potomac Fever the very first day he got to Washington and has been sucking up to Obama on 100% (not 99%).

  3. Jan Otto on said:

    Gee, Steve.

    It’s always best to start off by attacking the messenger (ad hominem). That really establishes your credentials as a thinker. And I’m not sure what long hair has to do with Littwin’s comments. As for the “60’s era hippie mentality”, I lived through that era, and I don’t know what you are pointing to in Littwin’s column that evokes your images of “hippy”. I just don’t see it.

    As for the point of the “ad”, somehow I missed any reference in the ad to Udall catching Potomac fever, or not representing Colorado, or sucking up to Obama 100%. As for Udall voting with Obama 99%, as far as I know, Obama doesn’t get to vote in Congress, so I don’t know what that number means.)

    I don’t mind a good critique of any opinion piece. But, jeez, man, start with the facts, and stick to the facts. Your comment is pure fairy dust.

  4. NDeeZ on said:

    Who the hell ever claimed that women were one-issue voters? Point to a stump speech where Udall said that. If, in fact, he airs spots that ADDRESS one issue, that certainly doesn’t mean he thinks the IS only one issue (or that he thinks WOMEN think there’s only one issue.)
    Classic Karl Rove twisting reality.
    But don’t worry Karl, I’m sure your polling shows this ad as paying off.

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