The “War On Women” Won’t End With Flip-Flops

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

An insightful story published yesterday evening at the Wall Street Journal takes a look at an emerging dominant theme in the biggest federal races in Colorado this election year–a desperate attempt by veteran Republican politicians to jettison their longstanding "anti-woman" baggage:

Wary of being on the losing side of the gender gap, Republican candidates are working to repel Democratic efforts to portray GOP policy on abortion, equal-pay laws and other matters as harmful to women.

In Colorado, Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman withdrew their support last month for "personhood" proposals that could limit access to birth control. In Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell hosted his first "women's symposium" last month…

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said Republicans are responding with mixed success to Democratic attacks that they are out of touch with women. She added, "Still, Republicans are doing a much better job by calling out Democrats for trying to divert attention from their chief liability, Obamacare."

…Democrats have criticized Messrs. Gardner and Coffman for backing statewide initiatives in 2010 and 2012 that would have treated a fetus like a person, outlawing most abortions and possibly some forms of birth control. Asked about the changes in position, staffers for the lawmakers said they recognized that voters had twice rejected "personhood" referenda. Mr. Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, called the possible limits on birth control "not right."

Ever since Rep. Cory Gardner made the obviously calculated decision to abandon his prior public support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives, late on a Friday afternoon in unsuccessful hopes of minimizing the press coverage, there's been a lot of debate about what the best strategy is for Gardner–followed up swiftly by fellow GOP Rep. Mike Coffman–to extricate themselves from their records of very consistent support for banning abortion, even in cases where most voters would never stay with them like rape and incest victims.

The problem is, such debate presupposes it's possible to do that.

Gardner and Coffman have a big problem claiming legitimate "evolution" on these issues, since in both cases they have taken place against the backdrop of a changing constituency now repelled by their former position. In Coffman's case, redistricting has transformed his formerly ultra-safe Republican seat into one of the most competitive districts in America. As for Gardner, his longstanding proud support for "Personhood" and other total abortion bans was perfectly acceptable in his safe Republican seat, but as a U.S. Senate candidate, his support for "Personhood" is potentially lethal.

Once you think past the offered excuses for Gardner and Coffman's flip-flops, it becomes objectively clear, regardless of where you stand on the issue, that they switched positions to save their political hides. In Coffman's case, the length of his "evolution" has been protracted by his unexpectedly narrow win in 2012 over an underdog opponent, after Democrats failed to capitalize on redistricting with a top-tier challenger. But Coffman's switch is no less obviously political in nature than Gardner's–and both can be easily discredited as a result with the very same voters they hoped to mollify.

And that brings us to the point, what we consider to be a very important point that needs to sink in with Republicans, Democrats, and journalists: contrived flip-flopping just doesn't work. It didn't work for Mitt "Etch-a-Sketch" Romney, and it's not working for Gardner or Coffman. It's not working because it's demonstrably fake. In this space, we have consistently argued for nearly a decade that the best hope for Republicans is to start fielding more moderate candidates–ones that don't automatically disqualify themselves with positions on wedge issues that horrify women and independent voters. But they need to genuinely be moderate candidates on these issues, not holdovers from a previous generation trying to fake their way out from under their own liabilities.

Does that mean Republicans have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years like Moses, until all of the "Personhood"-saddled anti-choice Republican politicians are dead or out to pasture?

You know, folks, we don't make the rules. But maybe so.

39 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DawnPatrol says:

    Coffman and Gardner: Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

    Do these two bozos really think thye're fooling anyone? Seriously? A child could tell these two are brazen liars.

    Colorado voters should be outraged and deeply insulted by the presumption on the part of these shameless GOP jackals that they, the voters, are as dumb as a bag of hammers.

    • exlurker19 says:

      That's being mean to hammers.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        As a long-time amateur carpenter {ex farm boy) I had the same thought.   I actually revere hammers, love their balance anhd variety.   I hate it when people use the word "tool" as a perjorative.   To me, a good tool is a thing of beauty, a source of empowerment.

        • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

          And as an old-time carpenter told me on one of my first jobs. Sharp tools make life's work easy.

          • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

            As a carpenter for thirty five years, I can tell you, he was right.

            • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

              Never made it to 35 years a cerebrovascular accident( medical terminology for a stroke) ended my career at only 30 some. But I know he was correct my business partners and I used to dedicate Saturday mornings to cleaning and maintenance including sharpening.Competitors who saw this as a waste of time eventually came around to our way of thinking.Even hammers need maintenance.

              • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                All those years building stuff has taught me much. One of the most important things I have learned is how much easier life is when you have someone told hold up the other end of the board.

                BTW…How are your knees doing? smiley

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

           To me, a good tool is a thing of beauty, a source of empowerment.

          Spoken like a true craftsman, V.

        • BlueCat says:

          Ok so we're not supposed to insult tools, reptiles, nice warm pieces of toast, useful posts, etc. You know what my husband's favorite go to insult is? Republican. My type A driver spouse is convinced that every stupid driver out there aggravating him by doing stupid stuff must be a Republican because they feel so entitled. That's his epithet of choice when someone nearly sideswipes him while making soup and talking on a cellphone. "Republican asshole!" is his road warrior battle cry. 

  2. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    What their flip flops look like.

  3. Urban Snowshoer says:

    ColoradoPols wrote:
     

    Does that mean that Republicans have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years like Moses, until all of the "Personhood"-saddled anti-choice Republican politicians are dead or out to pasture?
     

    As long as the Republican Party remains the part of angry, old, white people, they'll be in the wilderness. How long it will take for them to emerge is hard to say–it might be the extinction of their increasingly aging base, or there could be some other defining event (or series of events) that brings them into the 21st Century.   It's fair to say that the Republican Party will remain in the wilderness (at least national level) until they successfully adapt.

  4. dwyer says:

    The people who agree with Coloradopols were never going to vote for Gardner and/or Coffman.  There are many, many, nuances to this issue of reproductive 

    freedom.  The republicans know that.  the democrats do not.  It is not a religious, medical, or legal issue – it is a political issue.  The repubs have a strategy and so far it has helped them win the House, total control of 23 states and 30 governorships and are odds on favorites to win the Senate. My question for ColoradoPols, is "How did they do that?"  

    And, where are the current polls showing who is ahead in this war on women?

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      OK, dwyer, I'll bite. What is the Republican strategy which has helped them gain so much ground? Do enlighten us, please.

      Seriously, what are you talking about? Are you trying to make the case that old-fashioned sexism and the desire to control women and sexuality in general is behind the "War on Women" and conservative gains? Are you saying that social issues are the vehicle for advancing corporate gains? Or what?

      • dwyer says:

        @mj55

        I should have started a new paragraph beginning with "the repubs have a strategy…."  I absolutely don't think that "old-fashinged sexism and the desire to control women and sexuality in general is being the War on Women and conservative gains? What was my question in the post, in regard to republican gains was: My question for ColoradoPols, is "How did they do that?"   – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/57055/the-war-on-women-wont-end-with-flip-flops#comments

        It was a real question. Can you answer it? Nope, back to bashing….everyone is some comfortable with that…..I will give you my opinions.  I request that you give me yours…..how have the repubs been winning????

         I think there are pieces of the puzzle.  The gains were made in the states in the pivotal year of 2010 when the states had to redistrict for Congressional offices.  The dems "missed" the importance of this…partly, IMHO, because they were over confident and "dismissed" the teaparty.  I see the dems, this time around, relying on banging the drum on the "war on women."  I don't think that is going to work UNLESS gardner/coffman, etc. made the kind of comments that Buck did and that the Missiouri yahoo did……I think that the repubs have studied very carefully how they lost the women's vote in 2012 and I think that they have a strategy to combat it.   However, there are two pieces of information that could make a difference…..

        1) Current -polls in Colorado that specifically measure the "flip-flop" of Gardner/Coffman…

        2) The Supreme Court decisions on Hobby Lobby and the "Little sisters…." which will come the end of June and I think will have an impact on the election….

        I personally think the party that combines the GOTV 2012 strategy of the dems and the propaganda, energzing the base, of the repubs in 2010 will win the 2014 elections in Colorado and will take the US Senate.

         

        • dwyer says:

          @mj55,

          I don't know if you have had a chance to read "The Blue Print"….how the dems won the Colorado state legislature in 2004.  At the very beginning of the book, the authors point out that the "roundtable" decided to concentrate on local state races precisely because nationally, both parties were focusing on the presidential elections.  The authors also said that this Blue Print that the dems created could also be used by the repubs.  It is a great analysis…..published in 2010, but written before the outcome of the 2010 elections, as I recall.

          • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

            I am still reading "The Blueprint", and it's a great read. It's kind of a bubble-popper, though, as its main premise was that Dems can use dirty tricks every bit as well as Republicans. The book reported on how the Dems copied Republican tactics, and  used district-level targeting, dirty politics (somewhat slanderous propaganda),  and raised insane money to win state legislative seats.

            Dems did take our eye off the state legislative and local elections in 2010, and are still paying the price (Hello, Scotty!). To be fair, voter suppression also ramped up that year at a local level (Hello, Mike Coffman!)

            You probably won't agree, dwyer, but I think that Dems have in fact learned lessons from 2010, and Colorado Dems, at least, are building on the success stories chronicled in "The Blueprint".

            As far as the "blueprint" strategies being used by the Republicans, most of them are time-tested  Republican tactics. When Dems started using them, too, that was the innovative piece. Republican strategies at a Colorado level include propaganda (in Pueblo, using local conservative media such as the Chieftain, and buying tons of air time for repetitive slanderous propaganda), attempted voter suppression, and raising insane amounts of money from anonymous donors. Republicans showed that they were successful in district level targeting in the recall elections in Pueblo and the Springs in 2013.

            The GOP has always been better at using "wedge issues" to rally their base – what is different now is that they are running out of wedge issues. Guns, Gays, Ganja – meh, who cares? The world didn't end with background checks, civil unions, or legalized pot. 

            Abortion still works pretty well to rally the base, but doesn't work well to take control of the legislatures.

            So I guess my bubble still floats – Dems aren't using wedge issues, nor voter suppression, to win. I can live with the big money. When I'm involved in a campaign, I'll speak out about unethical propaganda, and they'll ignore me as they always do.

            My issue with you is really your syntax. You have good questions and good ideas – but the way you frame your sentences is often condescending, and people react to that. Implying that Pols or Polsters are being willfuly blind or withholding secret knowledge, which you incidentally have, will never get you cheery responses.

            If you said, instead, "Here's what I think- what do you think?", as you did in your reply to me, you might have better results.

            I'm sure that you actually do have a pretty good idea of what the Republican strategic "puzzle" has been over the last 8 years, and it would be interesting if you would just write a damn diary on it. That's my two cents.

            • dwyer says:

              This is the quote from Colorado Pols that prompted my first post: 

              Does that mean Republicans have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years like Moses, until all of the "Personhood"-saddled anti-choice Republican politicians are dead or out to pasture? – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/57055/the-war-on-women-wont-end-with-flip-flops#comments

               

              I think that is the kind of arrogance on the part of dems that can lead to a republican win….so I don't have time for "nice, nice"  besides I flunked all my courses on "consensus building"….

              I am not a student of yours, mj55.  My style of writing is mine alone and I have honed it over the years….it is not my intent to patronize, it is my intent to get a response…..

              I will go back and reread "The Blue Print"….because I don't remember the "dirty tricks" part…..

              I do not have the secret republican playbook…..I also know there is a strategy when I hear it on the radio……and then see that it is being repeated locally and nationally…….

               

            • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

              And was the response you elicited worth that two cents?smiley

              • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                Um….no.  I could go on, but I find personal feuds on here to be dreary.

                • BlueCat says:

                  For someone who doesn't mean to patronize, dwyer sure does a super fantastic job.

                • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                  There have been occasional flame wars on these pages that have been memorable, but they don't usually last too long because most of us feel the same way you do about it.

                  dwyer and I don't really see eye to eye so I try hard to restrain my belligerence. Moddy and the Cowardly One do not elicit the same level of restraint.

                   

                   

                  • dwyer says:

                    And yet, my question goes unanswered:

                    How did the repubs manage to be so successful in 2010?…which was the last mid-term election.  

                    I believe it was mj55 who thought that the "consultants" or whomever were making top decisons in the Giron recall, were focusing on the choice issue instead of guns…but her input was ignored.

                    If you don't agree with my statement:

                    I personally think the party that combines the GOTV 2012 strategy of the dems and the propaganda, energzing the base, of the repubs in 2010 will win the 2014 elections in Colorado and will take the US Senate.

                     

                    - See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/57055/the-war-on-women-wont-end-with-flip-flops#comments

                    Please say why.

                    After reading and listening to all the Sunday political talk, I believe, IMHO, that the republican strategy is to take the "war on women" and turn it into a "war on religion."

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Apparently you never stop to ponder for an instant why your high horse, self righteous, condescending, know it all questions and comments might, after a certain number of fruitless efforts such as those so politely made by mama, go unanswered. 

                • DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

                  There are many, many, nuances to this issue of reproductive freedom.  The republicans know that.  the democrats do not

                  - See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/57055/the-war-on-women-wont-end-with-flip-flops#sthash.wTEFelVn.dpuf

                  As yet, no explanation whatsoever.

                  • dwyer says:

                    @Daftpunk

                    So much is self evident.  The most notable one, recently, being the decision of the Democratics to introduce a  blanket "freedome of choice" bill the week before Holy Week and schedule debate for the Wednesday of Holy Week.  Quite apart from the cognitive dissonance within the Catholic community (catholic women use birth control and procure abortion at the same rate as non-catholic women), there is support for parental notification, conscience clauses and the right of catholic hospitals to refuse to perform certain medical procedures.  The republicans and the clergy exploited those fears over the radio and over the weekend services, resulting in calls to legislators, demonstrations featuring bishops on the West Side of the capitol and the dems ultimating withdrawing the bill.

                    Republicans understand the "nuances" in the reproductive issue.  In the above case, the democrats did not.

                    Sadly, Jonathan Alter, who is one of my favorite commentators and authors, just spoke on MSNCB, illustrating again, another "nuance" if you will.  He said that Republican candidates who believe that life begins at fertilization are "automatically" against all contraception.  That is not true.  The MSNBC host did not correct him.  The whole Hobby Lobby, etc. cases rests on the biological distinction between fertizilation and implantation.  Many pro-lifers or anti-choicers are for contraception that prevents ovulation, but are not for contraception that prevents implantation.

                    Finally, and for the benefit of Coloradopols.  Mississippi voters voted overwhelmingly against the personhood amendment; yet, voted for leglislators who passed restrictions on abortion clinics that has virtually closed down all by one clinic in Mississippi.

                    I posted a link months ago of a Washingtonpost article on public opinion on the possibility of prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks.  All I did was cite the study, I received a one word response.  It was "shithead."  I am not going to search for that post.  

                    I have done my part to cite the examples that cause me to write that Republicancs understand the "nuances" in the issue and Democrats do not. 

                    I will finally repeat my pledge:  If the republicans in the House vote on any of the "life begins at conception" bill, I will cease posting on Coloradopols.

  5. yameniyeyameniye says:

    A parallel story to this is the demise of Limbaugh and his followers on the downside of the bell curve of life.  Gardner and Coffman rose on the same issues that drove fatso and the preachers of Colorado Springs.  A campaign of no remorse for those not strongly on the Guns, Gays and God path.  Well guns are still winning, Gays are now winning and God (Goddesses, Lights whatever) are losing.  And the listeners/voters who followed all three are leaving this earth for whatever they believe is their ultimate landing zone.

    What we have not heard, and I am breaking out the stethescope to listen even better, is Coffman or Gardner mentioning support of the anti-government, freeloaders, "we don't pay for using land" Bundy (god bless that hurts the tv show character).  Without any doubt, if this was two years ago, both of them would have slung on their border patrol "Minuteman" peashooters and marched right to Nevada and stood there in defiance of the BLM.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      yamineye, I agree with mosst of your contentions: Lintballs and co are on the way down; his base is dying off. Coffman and Gardner are not cheerleading for the Bundys of the nation because they don't want to seem to be too extreme, and they rightfully perceive that these folks scare voters more than they motivate voters.

      I disagree on your contention that "God(Goddesses, Lights whatever) are losing."

      One of the strongest differences between Democrats and Republicans is the de-coupling of religion and politics on the Democrat, libertarian side. Most of the Founders were believers; yet their core belief was in the separation of church and state.

      The current crop of evangelical Christian politicians has, with mixed success, brought religion, specifically conservative Christianity, back into politics.

      I would like to see progressive politicians of whichever party start advocating for the separation of church and state again.

  6. ct says:

    Everything the GOP is the perfect strategy and everything the Dems do is pie-in-the-sky only talking to ourseles.  << What I wave learned from Eeyore.  

  7. Sunmusing says:

    Talk is cheap with these guys…buying their votes is a cheap way to continue the winger agenda, as the Koch boys well know…talk about corruption…

  8. nancycronknancycronk says:

    As the President of Progressive Women of Colorado, I spend countless hours every week talking to women about the GOP's war on us. It is real, it is frightening, and it is always a threat. One thing the top Dems don't seem to understand though, is that women love their children (if they have some) even more than they love themselves. Coffman's campaign strategists know that, and used that against Miklosi in the last CD6 election, when they (completely dishonestly) used Jessica's law to tie Miklosi with pedophiles. As I knocked on doors for GOTV for Miklosi, I can tell you it worked.

    Suburban women who vote pro-choice were torn because of Coffman's ads about Joe. One told me, "I don't know if I should vote for the guy who hates women, or the one who hates kids". Never mind that Joe Miklosi is one of the kindest, most thoughtful human beings I have ever met in my life — she didn't know him personally, and neither did most voters in CD6. 

    My repeated warning to all who pay attention to this race and who influence the ads for Romanoff — Coffman's PR team will sink to any low level they can to win, and integrity is of no importance. If Dems and their allies and surrogates only hammer on abortion, Coffman's team knows they cannot win, and will change the frame — they will use the opportunity to paint Romanoff as "anti-child". We've seen it before, and they will do it again. I repeat — there is no conscience from Coffman's camp whatsoever. No fact-check.org, no snopes.com, no local news channel fact-finding 60 seconds will be able to undo it quickly enough. Please do not let Coffman and his thugs get away with slandering a good man again.

    • BlueCat says:

      It's a stretch to say Coffman used anything successfully against Miklosi. Miklosi never had a snowball's chance in hell and the fact that he came within less than 2 points of beating Coffman shows how weak Coffman is in his new district and what a shaky job his campaign did. The numbers say that a strong well funded Dem candidate with better name rec might very well have won that race. 

      Romanoff is going to be that candidate and the Coffman/Romanoff match up in the reconfigured district is the first ever in CD6 in which the Dem has a solid chance of winning. Dissecting what the GOTP is doing right or wrong versus what Dems are doing right or wrong in winnable districts is a discussion that will be better informed after we see how this one turns out. Coffman's completely expected but much smaller than anyone ever imagined win is hardly illustrative of any point about superior GOTP messaging.

  9. dwyer says:

    @nancycronk

    Thank you very  much for your reports from the field and your efforts.

  10. HappyWarrior says:

    ObamaCare is blurring and beginning to fade as an issue and both Coffman and Gardner are one trick ponies. All they can talk about is ObamaCare this and ObamaCare that.  Without ObamaCare to dwell on these two flip-floppers could both lose maybe by wide margins

  11. Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

    Agree 100% with ColoradoPols that Gardner and Coffman are lying liars on this issue who are quite obviously flip-flopping based on nothing more than political expediency.

    That being said, they might very well succeed if enough Koch money can drown out attempts to make people aware of their cynicism.

  12. dwyer says:

    @BC

    BlueCat says:

    Sun April 20, 2014 at 7:30 PM MDT

    Apparently you never stop to ponder for an instant why your high horse, self righteous, condescending, know it all questions and comments might, after a certain number of fruitless efforts such as those so politely made by mama, go unanswered. 

    - See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/57055/the-war-on-women-wont-end-with-flip-flops#comments

     

     

     

    BlueCat says: Oh and here in my last reply to you ever,

    Fri February 21, 2014 at 1:12 PM MST

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