“House Republicans Simply Cannot be Led”

kidsrunning

Herding Republicans

Members of Congress were scrambling to make their flights home today for the August recess…and then Republicans f***** everything up again.  As "The Fix" reports this afternoon:

Oops, they did it again.

A spending measure designed to address the ongoing crisis of undocumented children entering at the country's southern border was shelved Thursday because the party couldn't rally the necessary votes to pass it. That decision raised the specter that the House would adjourn for a five-week summer recess without passing any sort fix for the border crisis. And, it amounted to yet another defeat for maligned House Speaker John Boehner and other members of the Republican leadership team who not only pushed hard for the bill's passage but also confidently predicted victory earlier on Thursday. (At press time, there was some question as to whether some sort of legislation could be cobbled together to gain a majority of Republican votes. Even if that happens, the inability of Republicans to pass the leadership-backed vehicle is a remarkable swing and a miss.)

The failure of the GOP leadership's immigration solution fits a now-familiar pattern for Congressional Republicans. Led by Boehner, the party's top brass fight with President Obama on the parameters of a legislative solution to a problem in the country. In hopes of answering the "do nothing" charges leveled at them by Democrats, those same GOP leaders put a proposal on the table that offers a handful of concessions but nowhere near the number the White House is demanding. The tea party faction in the House — led by Sen. Ted Cruz (yes, you read that right) — balks, demanding that the GOP make no concessions of any sort to the president. The party leaders whip support for the bill but, ultimately, find that 20 (or so) of their conference will not be for it under any circumstances. That means Boehner either has to a) pass legislation with Democratic votes or b) pull proposals off the House floor to avoid embarrassing losses.

The issues change — tax increases, immigration, the farm bill and so on and so forth — but the underlying reality remains the same: House Republicans simply cannot be led…

…House Republicans continue to flail helplessly while the country watches, mouth agape.

Yup.

 

Colorado GOP Delegation All In For Suing Obama

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As the Los Angeles Times' Mike Memoli reports, GOP House Speaker John Boehner now has the "authority" to file an unprecedented and likely doomed election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama, in a move either considered a forestalling of impeachment proceedings or a prelude to them depending on who you talk to:

The House vote to sue President Obama is the first such legal challenge by a chamber of Congress against a president and a historic foray in the fight over constitutional checks and balances.

Wednesday’s nearly party-line vote followed a feisty floor debate and offered a fresh example of how the capital’s hyper-partisanship has led both parties into unprecedented territory, going to new and greater lengths to confront one another…

The House approved the resolution in a near party-line vote, 225 to 201. It authorizes House Speaker John A. Boehner to file suit in federal court on behalf of the full body “to seek appropriate relief” for Obama’s failure to enforce a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would penalize businesses that do not offer basic health insurance to their employees.

That provision’s effective date has been delayed by the administration twice and now won’t fully take effect until 2016. The GOP-led House has voted to repeal the law, even as it seeks to sue Obama for failing to enforce it. [Pols emphasis]

The legal analysis we've seen suggests that this suit will quickly be dismissed as a "political question." The constitutional remedy of impeachment already exists to deal with the GOP's alleged grievances, and the political contrivance of this lawsuit is plainly evidenced by the subject matter–suing to force Obama to "enforce" a law they want to repeal. Despite these questions, all four Colorado Republican members of Congress, Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton, voted to allow Boehner to proceed.

As we discussed yesterday, Boehner's lawsuit against Obama is happening as talk of impeachment in Republican circles ramps up dramatically. Democrats have used prominent Republicans like Sarah Palin calling for impeachment to great effect in the last couple of weeks raising money, while establishment Republicans like Boehner have insisted that no plan to impeach Obama is in the offing. Given Congress' abysmal popularity ratings and the public's cynicism over the gridlocked state of national politics, impeachment talk seems wildly irresponsible–unless you're in the target audience for it. For committed base conservatives who have been getting propagandized for six years about how Obama's presidency means the end of America as we know it, impeachment probably seems like a natural, even overdue development.

Outside the right wing's impenetrable bubble of self-reinforcing groupthink, it sounds like madness. And Republicans like John Boehner, who are tasked today with keeping the "Tea Party's" five-year-old rage productive while simultaneously winning votes from reasonable Americans, know it.

It's tough to say what happens next. Boehner's lawsuit faces very long odds, not just for success but even for public supportOutside the conservative coalition it's a nonstarter, and on the right there are those who say the lawsuit is useless and Republicans should be moving directly to impeachment. If the whole effort blows up in the GOP's face, Republicans in swing races like Gardner and Coffman could well be the ones who pay the price.

Coffman: “My Dog Knows What ‘Stay’ Means”

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Attorney General John Suthers and his chief deputy, Cynthia Coffman (who also happens to be the Republican nominee for AG in 2014) have been criticized repeatedly over the last several weeks for continuing to defend a "same-sex marriage ban" that is quite clearly doomed to be defeated by the Supreme Court (Colorado, U.S., or otherwise). Suthers' obsession with trying to prevent same-sex marriage bans from being overturned has seen his office organizing defenses as far away as Indiana (no, seriously), and it is a crusade that will likely prove costly to Coffman's efforts at winning her own election as Attorney General in November.

According to something called the Villager Newspaper, Coffman has taken these efforts to another level with some pretty ridiculous rhetoric:

At the recent Western Conservative Conference she was asked if she shared her husband’s opinions.

“We do not agree on everything. On social issues, I am a moderate,” Cynthia said.

“I respect John – he has not been political and held true to his charge. We have been in the news a lot lately and things are changing quickly on the judicial landscape. The hot topic now is same sex marriage and it’s no coincidence that the Dems love having this issue on the front burner. The job of the attorney general is to follow the Constitution of the state of Colorado and the United States, to follow the rule of law and enforce the statutes. Two disagree with me – the Democrat and Libertarian running against me. My dog knows what ‘stay’ means. The clerk in Boulder County does not. [Pols emphasis] It is sad when someone who takes an oath to uphold the law is inconsistent and unpredictable.  We are beaten up for defending the law – it’s not easy. There is still a battle by the AG’s over Obamacare and I want to join them.”

 

Hillary Hall

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall (not a dog)

Whoa.

Coffman's comments are a direct criticism of Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall, who until recently had been issuing same-sex marriage licenses under the belief that such a ban is "unconstitutional and unenforceable" after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Utah's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. Yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court ordered Hall to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses while it prepares its own decision.

Coffman's comments above were apparently made several weeks ago, at a point when numerous judges were telling Suthers and Coffman that their appeals were crap; if anybody could be accused of ignoring decisions from the courts at that point, it would be Suthers and Coffman. Regardless, this is a stupid and insensitive comment for Coffman to make — one that will surely be used against her campaign this fall. Remember, Colorado voters largely support same-sex marriage and equality issues, and Coffman's comments make it much more difficult to just say she is "only doing her job" as Suthers' chief deputy.

Thursday Open Thread

"Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves."

–Eric Hoffer

Sorry Gun Nuts, Colorado Tourism Is Booming

guns

​After the passage of gun safety bills in the Colorado legislature last year, Republicans and their gun lobby allies predicted, we'd even go as far as say hoped for, a crippling boycott of the state's vital tourism industry. This prediction quickly proved unfounded, as the most likely indicator of a boycott by pro-gun tourists–a reduction in hunting licenses–didn't take place. In fact, Colorado issued some 18,000 more licenses in 2013 than in 2012.

And as the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover reports, 2013 overall was a banner year for tourism in Colorado:

Colorado welcomed a full-year record 64.6 million visitors in 2013, experiencing boosts even in segments of travelers — such as business travelers — for which many other markets saw declines last year.

The Colorado Tourism Office announced Tuesday that a trio of studies it conducted on visitation found also that those travelers spent a record $17.3 billion in the state…

[T]he state bucked trends by welcoming a 4 percent increase in business travelers as well, despite an 11 percent decline in business trips nationwide, according to a study by Longwoods International. Those business travelers spent a total of $1.4 billion in the state — a 21 percent bump above 2012 levels.

Visitors came in larger amounts for a number of specific reasons, including trips to casinos, visits to cities, attendance at special events, relaxation at resorts and combined business-leisure trips, the Longwoods study found.

We'll say it again and again: the dire predicted consequences of the gun safety bills passed in 2013 never materialized. The new laws did not "ban gun ownership" as Sen. Kent Lambert ludicrously claimed would happen. If anything, the impact of the new laws has been exaggerated by both sides: recent news reports indicate that the estimates of how many background checks on private sales would be performed were significantly overstated by nonpartisan legislative staffers. And despite Jon Caldara's ridiculous scare tactics, you can still buy compliant magazines in Colorado for virtually any weapon–including Caldara's precious Glock pistol, for which he said he would "never be able to get a magazine again" if these laws passed.

When is the media going to revisit this story? Not so Greg Brophy can grandstand about good-faith estimates from nonpartisan staffers–but to explain to the public how all the crazy stuff the gun lobby predicted would happen if we passed these laws never happened?

If voters deserve one side of this story, they damn well deserve the other. Starting with Colorado's booming tourism economy even after "gun control" was signed into law.

Suthers Finally Gets His Way (Sort Of) In Goal Line Stand Against Marriage Equality

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports, the Colorado Supreme Court has put a stop to Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, finally delivering GOP Attorney General John Suthers a win after numerous embarrassing defeats in lower courts:

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bringing an abrupt halt to gay marriages in the last Colorado county to allow them…

Jane Culkin, a communications assistant for the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office, said Tuesday afternoon the office reviewed the file and has stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"We are not going to be issuing any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the time being," Culkin said.

Hall said in a statement Tuesday she was "disappointed" by the ruling, but she hopes the stay will be brief.

"Given the avalanche of recent cases determining that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, I am hopeful the stay will be short-lived and that we will be able to resume issuing licenses soon," she said.

In the aftermath of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling striking down the state of Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, Boulder Clerk Hall took advantage of admittedly strained legal ambiguity–claiming that the stay immediately issued by the court only applied to Utah–to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After Suthers' first attempt to stop Hall was rebuffed, Denver and Pueblo joined in issuing licenses–and Suthers' next several attempts to stop them in court were unsuccessful. The State Supreme Court's order to Denver to stop issuing licenses a little over a week ago, which Suthers used to force Pueblo to stop issuing licenses even though they weren't technically subject to the order, was the writing on the wall–the state Supreme Court's action yesterday was probably always inevitable.

These events are taking place against the backdrop of what most agree is the end stage of the national battle over marriage equality. With same-sex marriage bans being declared unconstitutional across the nation, the issue is set for final resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court–and the broad emerging legal consensus on the issue strongly suggests the Supreme Court will rule on the side of marriage equality. In the interim, the unresolved court battles have created temporarily messy situations, like the last few weeks of "legal chaos" (Suthers' term) in Colorado.

Assuming that ultimate victory, marriage equality proponents will have the moral high ground–enough to transcend criticism of a legally questionable rationale, since it will be remembered as the right thing to have done. On the other hand, even though Suthers is on legally defensible ground today, he and his office–to include Republican AG candidate Cynthia Coffman–will be remembered as the ones who fought against marriage equality to the end.

Politically, we know which side we'd rather be on.

Ixnay on the Impeachmentay

MPeach

As our friends at "The Fix" report today, Congressional Republicans appear likely to commence the shooting of the feet before they head home for the August recess tomorrow:

They were doing so well. Right up until House Speaker John Boehner decided to file a lawsuit against President Obama for executive orders he maintained were unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, which the House is expected to authorize before heading home for a five-week August recess on Thursday, has opened up the Pandora's box of impeachment — with a large push from the White House– that now has the potential to undo much of the good political work Congressional Republicans have done this year.

Yes, Boehner has pooh-poohed impeachment as a "scam" propagated by Democrats to raise money and energize the party's somewhat lethargic base. (I'm not sure about the word choice of "scam" but Democrats quite clearly see political opportunity in the House lawsuit and are moving to take advantage.) The problem for Boehner is that while he has been adamant about impeachment never being on the table, there are others within the party — led by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — who have and will continue to call for Obama to be removed from office. And, the lawsuit — assuming the House authorizes it — provides, for this impeachment crowd, a news peg by which to promote their views…

The genie is out of the bottle for Republicans at the moment. They need to figure out a way to stuff it back in — and quick — or run the risk of making the election, at least in part, about them. And that's what they've spent the last seven months assiduously trying not to do. [Pols emphasis]

You don't need to see polling data to know that this is a disastrous move for Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner has been trying, meekly, to disrupt any talk of "impeachment," but filing a lawsuit against President Obama probably burned away the last bit of brake pad left on this runaway truck. If House Republicans authorize moving forward with Boehner's lawsuit tomorrow, as they are expected to do, Members will return home to their districts having to answer the question of impeachment over and over again.

For a Congress that is already dealing with historically-low approval ratings and a do-nothing image (remember, the Colorado legislature will have worked more days in session than Congress in 2014), attempting to impeach President Obama 16 months before the next Presidential election will only add to their image of ineptitude. While it probably won't be enough for Democrats to win back control of the House, the "impeachment" word may very well cripple the hopes of candidates such as Rep. Cory Gardner in 2014.

Americans already think that Congress doesn't do anything worthwhile — so, naturally, Republicans want to cement that image.

Debate Diary: Blogging the Secretary of State Debate

MaxHeadroom

Kids, ask your parents.

It’s time to fire up the Colorado Pols Debate Diary once again.

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates in Colorado. Yesterday in Grand Junction, Secretary of State candidates Joe Neguse (D) and Wayne Williams (R) took to the stage for the first SOS debate hosted by the Colorado Clerks Association. Colorado Pols was not in attendance at the debate (you wouldn’t drive to Grand Junction on a Monday, either), but thanks to the miracle of YouTube, we’re watching the video and providing a blow-by-blow rundown of the action.

*NOTE: Unlike a regular “live blog” Debate Diary, we're posting the most recent update at the bottom of the page, so you can read like a normal person. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.

 

0:15
We’re looking at the stage at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams is to the left of the screen, while CU Regent Joe Neguse is on the right. Maybe it’s just a weird camera angle, or maybe Williams is standing on a couple of phone books, but he looks absolutely ginormous. Williams looks like Godzilla preparing to destroy the convention center.

Our moderator is Gary Harmon from the Grand Junction Sentinel, who is sitting at his own table between the two candidates.

0:20
Let’s get right to the opening statements. Each candidate is allowed 3 minutes to start, which seems kind of excessive. If either candidate is able to coherently talk about the Secretary of State’s office for 3 consecutive minutes, we should just let them have the job.

0:27
Neguse is up first. He’s wearing a dark suit, with a white button-up shirt and a white t-shirt underneath. That’s a lot of layers, but maybe he just likes to be prepared.

1:04
“My name is Joe Neguse, and I’m running for Secretary of State for a pretty simple reason. I believe the right to vote is sacred.” Neguse talks about how his parents immigrated from East Africa.

1:39
And…we have our first Scott Gessler mention. Neguse criticizes the current SOS and makes sure to mention that Gessler has endorsed Williams.

[SIDE NOTE: Is there a lightbulb shortage on the West Slope? Neguse looks like he’s speaking from a dark alley, with half of his face shrouded in shadow.]

2:16
Neguse says that Williams is the only county clerk in the state who is NOT a member of the Colorado Clerks Association. That’s really strange – it will be interesting to see what Williams says about this. Why would the El Paso County Clerk not be a member of the Colorado Clerks Association? Is there a competing organization in which Williams is the sole member?

3:24
Neguse finishes up his opening statement with a story about doing bipartisan work as a CU Regent.

3:42
Now it’s time for Williams to speak. He’s wearing a brown jacket, a shirt of indeterminate color, and Max Headroom’s tie from 1984. He also has a “Wayne Williams” campaign sticker on his lapel, just in case.

“I had an interesting conversation in 2011 with my wife. I explained to Holly that I would not be at our house for her birthday.” Seriously, that’s the first thing he said.

Williams says that the Saguache County Commissioners scheduled a recall for January 24 (the same day as Holly Williams’ birthday) and asked him to run the recall election. So he sacrificed his wife’s birthday for the greater good of Saguache County, or something.

“I have been committed for many decades to working hard to ensure that everybody has the ability to vote.” Good work on the English, Wayne. Maybe he really IS Max Headroom.

4:45
Williams is now telling a story about serving on the Canvas Board in El Paso County for the first time in 1997. This is going to be a looonnggg 45 minutes.

5:15
Williams criticizes the 2000 election process in Florida, which resulted in a team of lawyers making sure that Al Gore George W. Bush was elected President. Didn’t see that one coming.

(more…)

Dems Go To Court To Stop Late GOP HD-23 Candidate

UPDATE: Click here to read the complaint as filed in Jefferson County District Court today.

—–

Nate Marshall, who got the GOP off to a very bad start in HD-23.

Nate Marshall, who got the GOP off to a very bad start in HD-23.

We've been talking about the Colorado Republican Party's major recruitment problems for state legislative candidates in this space for some weeks now. Perhaps the best example of the GOP's stunning inability to get organized in state legislative races is House District 23. A seat presently held by Democratic Rep. Max Tyler, Republicans originally nominated a candidate named Nate Marshall in this race. Marshall's campaign melted down, as our readers know well, after Marshall's overtly white supremacist past made headlines.

As we reported at the time, Republicans waited for weeks to hold a vacancy committee and appoint another candidate for HD-23 in the wake of Marshall's withdrawal. In the end, we broke the news in mid-May that Jane Barnes would replace Marshall as the GOP's HD-23 candidate–not the party. Which seems kind of weird, doesn't it?

As a complaint filed today shows, that's where things get problematic legally. The last day on which the law allowed the GOP to designate a new candidate to fill this vacancy in its assembly delegation was April 18. But the vacancy committee that selected Barnes didn't meet until April 28th, and Barnes didn't file her candidate affidavit until May 2nd–two weeks after the deadline.

Bottom line: as everyone knows, Jefferson County is the key to this election in just about every respect–with national eyes on races they normally wouldn't care about due to their aggregate effect up the ticket.  Like Politico says, “As Jefferson County Goes, So Goes Colorado.”  Understanding the critical role these races play, not just in the GOP's strategy to retake the legislature but all the way up the line, it's nothing short of unbelievable that the state and county GOP cannot get their act together. Democrats, who we can assure you do vet their candidates, simply do not have this problem.

Jane Barnes.

Jane Barnes.

First the Jefferson County GOP nominates a white supremacist with an arrest record, revealing a disastrous lack of vetting of GOP candidates in competitive races. After an embarrassing public spectacle they manage to force him off the ballot–but then they can’t even convene a vacancy committee in a timely fashion? They let weeks go by without doing anything at all?

And when they finally did hold a vacancy committee, they didn’t even bother telling anyone which candidate they nominated? Why were we the ones to break this news? For a party that claims to be interested in winning elections, this is just inexplicable behavior. Of course Democrats are going to cry foul–because they can and they should. And Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for these repeated displays of rank incompetence.

We'll update with court filings and press coverage later today.

How GOP Brass Punked The Colorado Grassroots Once Again

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

“Now that we know who was behind many of the false and slanderous ads that were purchased in Colorado in the final days of our primary season, there are many questions that Colorado Republicans deserve to have answered,” Tancredo said. “Voters deserve transparency and they deserve to have a full accounting as to why the RGA would secretly funnel money into our Colorado Republican primary.”

Tancredo called on Christie to release all communications between the RGA and RAGA, disclose who authorized what appears to be $175,000 funneled into the primary, and to say who was involved with coordinating efforts between the RGA and two issues committees formed to help Beauprez through the primary.

“Governor Christie was previously accused of using political power as governor of New Jersey to block bridges as an act of political retaliation. So I’m sure he will relish this opportunity to ‘come clean’ and to ‘clear the air’ to avoid new allegations of using his elected position at RGA to carry out a political vendetta in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: We have yet to confirm this report from AM radio host Ken Clark, but very interesting if true–Colorado Republican Party vice-chairman Mark Baisley, a "Tea Party" insurgent, calling for an investigation?

—–

tancgov

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post breaks an important, if unsurprising development–the Republican Governors Association worked actively behind the scenes to ensure one-time Colorado GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not win that party's primary. Far from a neutral observer, it looks like the RGA was in the tank (pardon the pun) for Bob Beauprez the whole time, and pretty darn sneaky about it too:

Tancredo, considered the front-runner for much of the primary, finished second in the June 24 four-way GOP primary for governor. Beauprez faces the Democrat incumbent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in November.

"The RGA wanted to play in the Republican primary without anyone knowing about it," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said.

"To avoid any fingerprints, the group ran the money through RAGA, an organization that typically doesn't weigh in on gubernatorial races. Despite a public posture to the contrary, it seems the RGA is, indeed, willing to pick sides in at least some Republican primaries."

beauprezdemsfear

​There were plenty of signs during the GOP primary that the RGA was actively working against Tancredo and for Beauprez. Early press reports after Beauprez's entry into the race described him as the "prohibitive favorite" of the RGA, and Beauprez himself made it clear he was getting in because the field of candidates as it stood then wasn't considered competitive. As we've discussed at length, Beauprez's loony-tunes record since leaving electoral politics in 2006 makes him almost as great a liability as Tancredo–the biggest difference being that Beauprez's nutty statements haven't been as widely publicized. But the judgment of GOP insiders at the time was that Beauprez hurts them less.

Either way, as Bartels continues, Tancredo is not a happy camper now that the truth is out:

"I am trying my very, very level best to figure out how to deal with my anger with them and exactly what to do about this without hurting Bob," Tancredo said. "I want Bob to become governor, but I want to blow the whistle on these people. They are despicable."

Tancredo said he's certain Beauprez knew nothing about the funding behind the attack ads, and Beauprez's campaign on Monday agreed.

Now folks, without getting too far into the whys and wherefors, let us just postulate right here that Bob Beauprez knew full well the RGA would back him in this primary. When Tom Tancredo says he's "certain" Beauprez didn't know the RGA was helping out, we submit Tancredo knows it's not true. Everybody with an ounce of political understanding knows it's not true. Tancredo can't say that, of course, because that would "hurt Bob." But the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demonstrates clearly how the money flowed from the RGA into the Colorado GOP gubernatorial race:

(more…)

Gardner Camp Responds to Cosmopolitan Article by Ridiculing Magazine

Last Thursday we wrote about a story from Cosmopolitan magazine discussing the Personhood issue in Congress, with a focus on Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner's struggles with flip-flopping on the issue. Here's the money quote from that story:

[Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood," Personhood USA president Keith Mason told Cosmopolitan.com. "I think he's just listening to some bad advice, and he's playing politics."

A few hours after our post first appeared on Colorado Pols, Gardner's campaign responded via Twitter in just about the worst possible manner — by (SURPRISE!) making fun of women's magazines. From Jill Filipovic of Cosmopolitan:

This week, journalist Ada Calhoun published a piece on Cosmopolitan.com about personhood bills, wildly unpopular right-wing legislation that would outlaw abortion and, potentially, some forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization. She highlighted the Senate race in Colorado between pro-choice candidate Mark Udall and his anti-abortion opponent, Cory Gardner, who supported state personhood legislation until he didn't, and who remains a co-sponsor of federal personhood legislation. Udall's press team tweeted the article. In response, Sam Stookesberry, Gardner's deputy press secretary until last month, responded:

Cosmo Tweets

You may want to adjust those blinders

That kind of condescension is de rigueur when you write in lady-mag land. If your outlet brands itself as a "women's publication," the automatic assumption is that it's lowbrow, apolitical, superficial, or all of the above. And there's certainly plenty of content in traditional women's magazines and websites that fits the bill.

But mainstream "serious" media, with its regular forays into rape apologia and marginalizing female accomplishment, isn't exactly an enjoyable place for the feminist-hearted either. And while beauty tips, fashion spreads, and sex advice are staples of women's publications, so is an abundance of serious reporting and thoughtful writing from excellent journalists. Calhoun, for example, has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, NewYorker.com, and the New Republic — and that's just the "N" section of her resume. Put her in Cosmo, though, and suddenly "hard-hitting journalist" becomes a sarcastic reproach instead of an accurate characterization…

The reaction to an article's placement also serves as a handy litmus test: Whether a person engages with the work sincerely or whether their go-to response is to brush it off because it appears in a women's publication alongside celebrity, fashion, and sex coverage offers a pretty clear read on how they view women more generally. [Pols emphasis] Which makes smarmy dismissals from conservative men fairly predictable — if especially rich when those men's patronizing tweets are published alongside their own less-than-hard-hitting style advice.

As we wrote last week, it would be foolish to dismiss something that appears in Cosmopolitan magazine — which boasts a readership of a female demographic that Gardner desperately needs in order to have any hope of defeating Sen. Mark Udall in November. It is completely irrelevant if some individuals — primarily men — brush Cosmo off as unimportant. Cosmopolitan magazine isn't trying to influence an audience of conservative men…even if that's all Cory Gardner's campaign can think about.

No Labels’ Gardner “Endorsement” Backfires (For No Labels)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Back in April, a reported "endorsement" of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner by the nonpartisan advocacy group No Labels caused tremendous controversy, leading to the group's clarification that their "Seal of Approval" is not a bonafide candidate endorsement at all. A week later, it came out that No Label co-founder Mark McKinnon had been wrong to characterize this as an "implied endorsement," saying that was strictly his "personal opinion"–although it was not represented as such originally, or when Gardner touted this "endorsment" widely. The belated correction from McKinnon, a former aide to George W. Bush, was an odd footnote in an episode that hinted at something more.

And as Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News reports today, there was indeed a lot more going on behind the scenes than Gardner or McKinnon wanted to talk about in the wake of No Labels' "endorsement."

[T]hough No Labels has positioned itself as a warrior against gridlock, an internal document obtained by Yahoo News suggests the group is banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find “opportunity” and relevance for itself…

“Should the balance of power in the U.S. Senate flip following the 2014 midterm elections and Republicans gain control, No Labels sees an opportunity to bridge the gap between Congress and the White House,” the document reads in its “Break Through Strategy” section. “With Republicans holding control of both chambers in Congress and a Democrat in the White House, the likelihood of gridlock will be higher than ever before.

“We have already begun back door conversations with Senate leaders to discuss this increasingly likely scenario,” the document continues.

This privately stated position exacerbates an already publicly spoiled relationship with Senate Democrats, who are still fuming from an April incident in which the group supported conservative Republican Cory Gardner in Colorado over Manchin’s colleague, incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. The endorsement, which No Labels later tried to clarify by saying that any candidate could be backed by the group if they just agreed to be a member, was touted by Gardner in press releases and caused the few Senate Democrats involved with the group to threaten to pull their membership, according to Democratic sources. [Pols emphasis]

We had heard the rumors, but this story confirms that the "implied endorsement" of Gardner by No Labels caused a major rift in this allegedly nonpartisan organization, with participating Democrats considering the endorsement of Gardner to be both political betrayal and objectively indefensible. After all, "endorsing" a candidate who earned the dubious distinction of tenth most conservative member of the U.S. House in 2012, earned by taking such divisive stands as shutting down the federal government to stop Obamacare and risking national default in budget negotiations, cannot help but throw No Labels' credibility into question. How does Gardner fit with the stated goal of replacing "the culture of conflict and division with a politics of problem solving and consensus building?"

Yahoo News continues–Gardner doesn't fit at all, and that sums up the trouble with No Labels.

Multiple Senate Democratic aides characterized the relationship between No Labels and Senate Democratic leaders as “hostile,” and said that the current distance stems from the controversy surrounding Gardner and the Colorado Senate race. [Pols emphasis]

In April, No Labels gave its “Problem Solvers seal” to Gardner, the GOP challenger to the Senate Democratic incumbent Udall. Gardner touted the seal as an endorsement from No Labels, a situation that incensed members of the Senate Democratic caucus.

Gardner and No Labels then were forced to clarify the meaning of the seal, after Democratic members threatened to leave the group and multiple No Labels board calls were held to discuss the matter…

Gardner was among the top-10 most conservative members of the House in 2012 and the 98th in 2013, according to rankings by the National Journal. But the group has also given the seals to Reps. Peter Welch and Jared Huffman, who were among the top-20 most liberal members of the House in 2013, according to National Journal. It’s not that No Labels has shifted rightward ideologically and deliberately, it’s that it’s initial design to provide cover to politicians on both sides to work in a bipartisan way also gives cover to politicians who won’t but want to have lapel pins on their jackets saying they do. [Pols emphasis]

There are two ways to look at this: it's quite possible, and we tend to think in the aftermath of the Gardner "endorsement" fiasco, that No Labels has always simply been a front for unpopular Republicans to obtain token Democratic cover. But, as this story suggests, it's also possible that the organization's once-lofty goals of transcending partisanship, and ending the gridlock that has eroded the confidence of so many Americans, have been subverted by politicians who desire only the pretense of "working together."

Whether No Labels was duped or a willing agent of Gardner's deception, they've only managed to worsen the public's cynicism with politics. And we're pretty sure that's a failure of their most basic mission.