Made me cringe, as Spicer’s intentions weren’t bad and he apologized effusively afterwards, a rarity in the Trump White House. Worse, Mike Coffman’s clearly caving to a hostile crowd here. It’s one thing to pander to unfriendly voters by criticizing a policy of Trump’s, it’s another to stand there and silently assent as someone is unfairly smeared as anti-semitic.
He could have made this point from Alan Dershowitz:
The politicization of the Holocaust dishonors the memory of the six million. Sean Spicer made a serious mistake when he compared Bashar Al-Assad to Hitler, and to make matters worse, he got his facts wrong. He quickly and fully apologized. There was no hint of anti-Semitism in his historical mistake and his apology should have ended the matter. But his political enemies decided to exploit his mistake by pandering to Jews. In doing so, it is they who are exploiting the memory of the six million during the Passover Holiday.
The Democratic National Committee issued a rebuke with the headline “We will not stand for anti-Semitism.” Its content included the following: “Denying the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime is a tried and true tactic used by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists groups that have become emboldened since Donald Trump first announced his campaign for president.”
By placing Hitler and Trump in the same sentence, the DNC committed a mistake similar to that for which they justly criticized Spicer. Moreover, the DNC itself, is co-chaired by a man who for many years did “stand for anti-Semitism” — namely Keith Ellison who stood by the notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, while denying that he was aware of Farrakhan’s very public Jew-hatred. It is the epitome of Chutzpah for the DNC to falsely accuse Spicer of standing by anti-Semitism while it is they who are co-chaired by a man who committed that sin.
Stones, glass houses, etc. Given the tenor of the crowd, in fact, I bet there were some in attendance who wouldn’t have blanched at a Trump/Hitler analogy if Coffman had offered it to them. That’s how seriously they take Spicer’s offense.
Ask yourself this, though: How much time and effort would have been prudent for Coffman to devote to defending Spicer on the particulars of what he said? If you have to die on a hill politically, do you want it to be a debate over whether the White House press secretary believes German Jews should be described as Hitler’s “own people” or not? Coffman is unusual by the standards of House Republicans in that he doesn’t represent a deep red rural district. His district in Colorado covers a major urban area, east Denver; CO-6 is 20 percent Latino and slightly more Democratic overall than the country at large, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index. You may remember him, in fact, for having run an ad last August, after Trump became the Republican nominee, emphasizing that he wasn’t a fan of the GOP’s presidential candidate. Even under the best of circumstances, Coffman’s seat was going to be a prime target for Democrats in the midterms. With Trump’s approval in the low 40s and the out party likely to pick up House seats in the midterm per historical trends, his odds of holding his seat next year are already hanging by a thread. So if you were his chief strategist, what would you have advised here? Get into an argument with an angry crowd over just how anti-semitic Sean Spicer is or isn’t, knowing that cameras are rolling, or show your “independence” by calling for him to be canned?