Littwin: Karl Rove’s sad, mad, pretend JeffCo coffee klatchers
September 21, 2014
It's no mystery why Republicans keep losing the women's vote in Colorado (personhood, abortion and birth control). But if you're even slightly confused, come with me for a trip into the magical world of Karl Rove via his Crossroads GPS way-way-back machine.
The setting for Rove's latest campaign ad is a suburban kitchen, presumably somewhere in Jefferson County, because all Colorado elections are decided in kitchens somewhere in Jefferson County.
We zoom in on a coffee cup and then, strangely, on a woman's, uh, profile — possibly to signal to the viewer that this campaign ad is about women drinking coffee. And as the camera pulls back, it reveals four such women standing around one of those granite-top kitchen island things, doing what Jefferson County women presumably do — stand around and complain about Mark Udall's Senate campaign's insistence on talking about, you know, female stuff (personhood, abortion and birth control) instead of the real issues, which we'll get to in a minute.
These are actors, you quickly realize. There are at least two major giveaways.
One, real people don't actually talk this way. Here's a sample piece of caffeinated conversation in Rove's world o' kitchens: "Unfortunately, after 15 years in Washington, political scare tactics are all Mark Udall has left."
"Political scare tactics" are, of course, words that have never been said consecutively in anyone's kitchen, but they are a handy euphemism for personhood, abortion and birth control, which is all Udall talks about because, well, you know. Not surprisingly, "personhood, abortion and birth control" are words the Rove stand-ins never utter.
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And two, as the 30 seconds slip agonizingly by, you realize something else: that maybe too much caffeine is involved. These women are, well, miffed. No, they're more than that. They're angry. And it's not just your everyday stressed-out anger at the world; it's more like they are auditioning for a guest spot on "Hannity."
If there's anything you know about affable Mark Udall, the mountain-climbing senator, it's that, whatever else, no one is mad at the guy. Except, I guess, Rove, who imagines that Jefferson County women are — dare I, a reconstructed male, use the word in 21st-century America? — this annoyingly, umm, shrill.
It's not I who's saying it (really, it's not). It's Rove, who is betting Crossroad GPS millions that these are the kind of women whom Jefferson County's female voting population — or any other population — could relate to or even recognize.
This is less a coffee klatch than it is a desperate cry for an anger-management class. And what are the Jeffco Four so mad about? It's not the Hobby Lobby kitchen decor. And it's not the cookies and fruit put out with the coffee and cream. They're tired, they say, of being treated as single-issue voters.
"Shouldn't Mark Udall talk about the issues?" one woman asks.
"Udall voted against Keystone," one replies.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only issue discussed. I'm serious. One woman does say that Udall voted 99 percent of the time with Obama, as you may have heard Cory Gardner mention once or twice. But for issues in this kitchen, it's Keystone and Keystone only. I guess Rove doesn't know that if you hear people talking about Keystone in Colorado, they're probably discussing next season's ski package and not a proposed pipeline that would come nowhere near the state.
And yet Rove apparently envisions unaffiliated voters in kitchens across Colorado slamming their hands on their kitchen islands, even at risk of spilling the coffee, and screaming, "Dammit, when is Udall gonna come clean on Keystone?!"
Yes, Keystone. Not immigration reform. Not Obamacare. Not over-the-counter birth control. Not ISIS. Not entitlements. Not the debt. Not guns. Not the NSA. Not long-term unemployment. Not equal pay for women. Not same-sex marriage. Not the economy. Not income inequality. Not the Broncos vs. the Seahawks.
You get the feeling that somebody is ripping Rove off? The last Crossroads GPS commercial I remember starred a woman called "Richelle" asking Udall to repeal Obamacare because the program had forced her to go back to work. Except that simple fact-checking (by KDVR's Eli Stokols) showed that she had gone back to work before there was an Obamacare because, she said, her family needed the money. Whatever financial problems her family had, they had nothing to do with Obamacare (or, just guessing, Keystone).
If you're going to make the argument that Democrats won't talk about anything but abortion rights and birth control, do you make it by talking about pipelines?
Michael Bennet beat Ken Buck by 17 points among women in the last Colorado Senate race. That number underlies the thinking in every Udall ad. What the strategists understand is that personhood is not just about personhood. The reason Gardner is desperate to change the subject is that personhood stands for every issue in which so many middle-class suburban women find Colorado Republicans standing somewhere in the past century.
That's why in Udall's latest commercial, he asks people — including these same Rove-targeted women, who may not, in fact, spend their lives standing in a kitchen — to check their calendars. Let's face it: That granite-top kitchen island is right out of the 1990s.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in The Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, he currently writes for ColoradoIndependent.com.
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