In an act of equal parts malevolence and incompetence, the Trump administration threw international travel into chaos on Friday with a hideous executive order that banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries—even those already granted legal permanent resident status, better known as green cards—from entering the United States. As reports of people being detained and deported began to proliferate, crowds gathered at airports around the country in protest.
A small number of Republican congressmen have joined Democrats in opposing the order, and both the Washington Post and Vox would have you believe that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)—last seen sneaking out the back door of a library where constituents were waiting to express concerns about the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act—is one of them.
This is bullshit. Coffman hasn’t said anything specifically regarding Trump’s order, much less anything in opposition to it. Here’s the one-sentence statement he released last night on Twitter:
As is obvious to everyone but the dupes of the D.C./New York press, this statement doesn’t refer to the order at all. Coffman’s opposition to a ban “solely based on…religious grounds” is entirely consistent with the position taken by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, whose spokesperson on Friday affirmed his support for the travel ban while maintaining that it “is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion.” Other Trump supporters are taking the same tack.
This is just a craven, hair-splitting, cover-your-ass move by Coffman and his staff, who will no doubt eventually claim that he vociferously opposed the travel ban while not having taken any real stand on the matter when it counted. Cowardly chameleonism is par for the course for Coffman, a longtime player in Colorado Republican politics who spent the Tea Party era flirting with birtherism but in 2016 cast himself as a moderate willing to “stand up” to a potential Trump administration. If there were any doubt left that that pledge was just a self-serving lie, his timid, lawyerly response to a Trump order that tramples on human rights and threatens the lives of innocents should extinguish it.
Wresting control of the House of Representatives away from Trump’s Republican collaborators in 2018 will require defeating the likes of Mike Coffman, a task that is made more difficult every time he’s given plaudits for independence and moderation that he hasn’t remotely earned. Coffman has gotten away with his cynical, self-interested style of politics for long enough. It’s time for voters and the media to stop falling for it.
Update: More than three days later, having sufficiently gauged which way the political winds were blowing, Coffman finally felt comfortable calling the order “poorly thought-out and badly executed.”