Mike Coffman, Marine, is now the national poster boy for Republican panic over those protesting the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.
News9 got the video as Coffman leaves a constituent meeting early — or, as the headline writers would have it, “flees” or “sneaks away” or is “overwhelmed” or “can’t take the heat” or (this is mine) begs his staff to get him the hell out of there before he is forced to actually answer a question.
It’s quite the scene. There are “constituents” or “activists” or just “unhappy people” — depending on who is describing them — crowding the Aurora Central Library for a routine Coffman event that suddenly became reminiscent of 2009 Tea Party anti-Obamacare activism, except with much less shouting and much more singing.
But the really memorable moment has the cops putting up crime-scene tape (do with that as you will) as Coffman sneaks out the back door and into a waiting car.
The video has gone viral. And Coffman has done it again.
He is Mr. Viral Video, after all. There was the infamous birther video in which Coffman told constituents that Obama was not an American in his heart. There was the infamous apology video in which he responds to 9News reporter Kyle Clark’s list of questions about Coffman’s birther video by repeatedly, and bizarrely, saying, “I stand by my statement. I misspoke and I apologize.” There was the Coffman campaign video in which he more or less disavows Donald Trump, saying he doesn’t like him much, after which he would tell people he still might vote for Trump anyway, after which he said Trump should “step aside,” after which, when Trump was elected, he was seen with a Make America Great Again cap and saying he was “excited” to work with Trump.
So, yeah, it’s not exactly like he’s the boldest politician anyway, so you can’t be surprised that Coffman ran away from angry constituents rather than just withstanding a tough round of questions. Somehow, the crowd of people took him by surprise — even though he had co-penned an anti-Obamacare op-ed that morning in the Denver Post — and he was not at all prepared to handle it. After all, Democrats have spent years avoiding any real defense of Obamacare. That was then. This is now, with Obamacare in real trouble, when even Bernie Sanders saying we have to defend Obamacare from Republicans before moving on to a better plan.
The next day, Coffman, finally coming up with a strategy, told Indy editor Susan Greene at the MLK Marade that he would soon hold a meeting at a sufficiently large venue to let everyone have his/her say on Obamacare repeal. I guess we should put the clock on that.
On the other hand, you can’t altogether blame him, because what exactly was Coffman going to say?
As Republicans rush to repeal and allegedly replace Obamacare, they have no replacement plan they can even begin to agree on. And then there’s the Trump Factor. As you may have heard, Trump told the Washington Post that Trumpcare will mean “insurance for everybody,” which sounds a lot like universal health care, which Trump once supported and which conservatives generally see as pre-Putin-style Russian communism.
One thing is sure: There won’t be insurance for everyone. It’s what Vox called “the long con.” But now that Trump has said it, any Republican plan will be measured by that standard.
Trump also said that cost won’t be the issue and people won’t be denied insurance because they can’t afford it. And, again, you look at the Trump campaign plan — which would cause 21 million people to lose their insurance — or the many Republican House plans, which, let’s say, don’t exactly see health insurance as a right, and you wonder what Trump might be talking about.
Of course, there’s a lot of that going around. New polls out today show Trump with historically low numbers for a president-elect and with Obamacare showing the best numbers — 47-46 against repeal — in its rocky history. And now there are pro-Obamacare rallies, which are also anti-Trump rallies, and you can see a trend beginning.
The problem for Trump is that he has no good answer here. Among those most likely to suffer from a repeal or a replacement are the older, whiter, blue collar workers that are at the core of the Trump constituency — those convinced that Trump would come up with something better than Obamacare, something “terrific.”
The problem is so bad that CNN has reported that Tom Price — Trump’s now-troubled pick for Health secretary (a little thing about healthcare stocks and allegations of insider trading) —has been kept out of the loop on formulating a healthcare replacement plan because Trump’s team didn’t want him having to answer any questions about it during his Senate confirmation hearing.
This is the same Price who has been a leading anti-Obamacare voice and who actually has a plan — although one so conservative that it would never get through the Republican House, much less the filibuster-ready Senate — to replace Obamacare. But now they’re too afraid to even let him speak.
Coffman, who represents, of course, the competitive 6th Congressional District, understands the problem well. It’s hard to hold, say, a town hall on replacing Obamacare when there’s no sign of a plan in place and when there’s absolutely nothing you can say to explain it. So you duck and cover — it’s worked before — and just hope that no one asks again.
Photo by Sarah Blume. Rep. Mike Coffman at the Denver Marade on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017