Political observers realized that Mike Coffman's recent birther comments were a political gaffe. But even the wisest of them couldn't have guessed his clumsy attempts to deal with the fallout would transform him into a nationwide punchline. Thanks for the latter goes to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who last night zinged Coffman in hilarious (unless you're him) fashion.
To recap: Toward the end of his remarks at a May 12 fundraiser in Elbert County, Coffman said, "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American." He subsequently issued an apology, saying, "I misspoke" -- a popular excuse among politicians.
A bad moment, no doubt -- but this error was compounded when 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark pigeonholed Coffman at an event earlier this week and tried to get something more out of him than a canned statement. But no: Coffman, looking like a remote-control automaton, told Clark, "I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize." And then he said it again. And again. And again. And again, bringing the total to five -- after which Clark, who was studiously polite throughout, mercifully let Coffman run away.
This self-perpetuating meme is ideal for ridicule, and Maddow spent much of her program last night building up to it -- including an intro during which she likened the 9News clip in advance to the moment when Caitlin Upton, the 2007 Miss South Carolina Teen USA, answered a pageant question by rambling that "people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq...."
This set-up paid off with Maddow sharing the Coffman clip and declaring that it's made him "nationally famous" -- and she's doing all she can to perpetuate his mea culpa-times-five. Example: Today, the top item on her blog is this tweet:
Will other progressives join the fun and transform Coffman into a poster child for all that's wrong with today's Republican Party? It's too early to know for certain yet -- but bet plenty of them try. Check out the intro and the Coffman video below.
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More from our Politics archive: "John Hickenlooper, Mike Coffman could see political fallout, pollster says."