As a guest on The Caplis & Silverman Show, Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy recited unchallenged conservative talking points by mischaracterizing a resolution against President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq as "an issue that really the state legislature can't impact" and misleadingly framing the debate as one between "war protesters" and "military families."
During the March 12 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy (Wray) mischaracterized a state Senate resolution criticizing President Bush's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq by repeating several conservative talking points. He asserted that the resolution "is going to raise a lot of passion at the Capitol over an issue that really the state legislature can't impact" and claimed that the debate over the measure was between "war protesters" and "military families" -- ignoring news reports that some military families support the resolution.
Democratic Sens. Ken Gordon (Denver) and Ron Tupa (Boulder) introduced the nonbinding resolution. It states that while "Colorado supports and honors its servicemen and servicewomen and will support Congress in ensuring that there are sufficient resources made available to support the United States' armed forces so long as they remain in Iraq and Afghanistan ... it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States' military force presence in Iraq."
Joining co-hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman by phone, Brophy dubiously suggested that the resolution "will bring about some harm, maybe a great deal of harm" and criticized a March 14 public hearing on the resolution as "not responsible" because it would "raise a lot of passion at the Capitol over an issue that really the state legislature can't impact." Brophy also characterized the resolution as addressing an issue "affected at the national level, not at the state level." However, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Coal Creek) and Gov. Bill Ritter (D) have argued that the Iraq war is a state, as well as a national, issue.
As The Denver Post noted on March 4, "Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, who usually prefers to contain floor debate to state issues, has said she supports having what will no doubt be a long and contentious debate on Iraq because the war has become a state issue by siphoning money for health care and education." The column by Capitol Bureau chief Jeri Clausing further reported the comments of Ritter, who "expressed similar sentiments last week after returning from his first National Governor's Association meeting in Washington, D.C.":
At that meeting, he said, Republican and Democratic governors alike were disturbed by the escalating cost of the war and the Bush administration's refusal to help them plug a $750 million hole in health insurance programs for kids.
"Whatever you believe about the war, you cannot deny this is a state issue," Ritter said.
While the administration's tab for the war is in the hundreds of billions, funding for education, health care and agencies such as Boulder's National Renewable Energy Laboratory suffers, he said.
Brophy also framed the debate over the Iraq resolution as being between "war protesters" and "military families." According to Brophy, "[W]hen you have war protesters -- which is basically who are on the other side of this thing -- in the same room at the same time with military families, to me that's not responsible on the part of the legislature to encourage that." However, Brophy failed to note news reports that some Colorado military families oppose Bush's escalation of the war and support the resolution.
For example, a March 1 article in the Rocky Mountain News described the father of a soldier as "furious" with Brophy because of the senator's opposition to the resolution:
A Loveland father with a son getting ready to return to Iraq for the third time is furious over a lawmaker's criticism of a resolution opposing the war.
"This war has nothing to do with 9/11, with terrorism, with our national security," Ken Bennett, 58, wrote to Sen. Greg Brophy. "We are the parents of a Marine. We do not support the war. You do not speak for us, so please do not claim to speak for military families."
Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, introduced the resolution Wednesday, urging against any troop buildup in Iraq.
Brophy, a Wray Republican, warned Tupa to expect an all-out war on the Senate floor if he introduces the resolution.
Their exchange resulted in Bennett's impassioned e-mail to Brophy, which was copied to Tupa.
Similarly, as the News reported on March 14, military families in support of and in opposition to the Senate resolution will take part in the debate:
Two Colorado parents whose sons fought in Afghanistan will offer vastly different views when they testify at the state Capitol today on a war resolution.
John C. Buckley III, a Colorado Springs attorney, is furious over the Democratic-backed measure, which opposes sending more troops to Iraq.
"I almost lost a son in this war, and I still think that, by and large, we have tried to do the right thing," Buckley said.
He said he believes the resolution undermines support for the troops: "This resolution sends a message to every Coloradan who wears a uniform."
But Gaye Lowe-Kaplan, a retired teacher from Lakewood whose son is scheduled to be discharged from the Marines in July, said she thinks it's an important issue for legislators to discuss.
"I'm not a pacifist. I think we need to defend our country. But not this way.
My kid's life was offered up for a lie," she said, and then broke down.
From the March 12 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:
CAPLIS: Hey, a heated conversation as we talk about Senator Gordon, Tupa, Fitz-Gerald, et cetera's effort now to get the Colorado legislature to pass a resolution condemning the troop surge. Now, fighting back at the legislature, a guy I really like, Senator Greg Brophy, kind enough to join us from Senate District 1. In fact, he and our good friend Josh Penry, I think, on the road again, right now on their way out to serve their constituents. Senator, welcome back to 630 KHOW.
BROPHY: Well, thanks, Dan. It's good to be with you. And I'm actually on the road with [state Rep.] Cory Gardner [R-Yuma].
BROPHY: Josh got the other direction.
CAPLIS: Oh, forgive me. I thought you guys were traveling together. But say hello to Cory for us. And now, tell us where you stand on Senator Tupa's effort. Tell us a little about your counter-resolution and how you think this is all going to pan out.
BROPHY: Well, I'm adamantly opposed to Senator Tupa's resolution, and I actually went to him on the floor two, three weeks ago, and I didn't realize that a reporter was walking by while I was talking to him about this, or nobody would've even known. But I, I just asked him not to run it because I just don't think it will accomplish anything good, and it will bring about some harm, maybe a great deal of harm. And -- and he went ahead and decided to run the resolution anyway. And then, to top it all off, they had it assigned to a committee so that it would really become a, a circus, a political circus at the Capitol with people who --
BROPHY: -- you know, really inflamed passions coming down and testifying for and against this thing. And, again, nothing good is going to come of that, but it sure is going to raise a lot of passion at the Capitol over an issue that really the state legislature can't impact.
SILVERMAN: Senator, Craig Silverman here. I hope you're driving safely. I hope your colleague has the wheel. Am I right?
BROPHY: He does.
SILVERMAN: OK, good. Is it foreign policy that you object to? I tend to think that it's a mistake for the Colorado legislature to ever get mixed up in foreign policy because that's what we -- that's not what we elect you guys on and I doubt it comes up on many candidate questionnaires or anything like that.
BROPHY: Well, that --
SILVERMAN: Is that the general policy of yours?
BROPHY: That's part of it, Craig. But you can still run simple resolutions urging the government to do this or that, especially when you don't take up valuable committee time and you don't allow really inflamed people to come in and cause a potentially hazardous situation at the Capitol. That -- I'm concerned of that. You know -- you know, in this case --
SILVERMAN: Well, what are you afraid of? You sound like there's going to be some threat of violence on Wednesday at the Capitol. Could you expand on that?
BROPHY: You know, when -- when you have war protesters -- which is basically who are on the other side of this thing -- in the same room at the same time with military families, to me that's not responsible on the part of the legislature to encourage that, especially, again, on an issue of, you know, that's affected at the national level, not at the state level. Nothing good is going to come of doing this in the Colorado General Assembly. And I, you know, I asked them not to do that. You know, further, it's a real problem, you know, on the grand scheme also in that what we have now are, are a bunch of state politicians without access to real-life briefing information trying to dictate foreign policy. It's entirely possible that the only way to win in Iraq is to increase our presence over there. If that's the case, then what these Democrats in Colorado are proposing is that we lose the war in Iraq. And I think the consequences of losing the war in Iraq are severe.
SILVERMAN: Well, there's a possibility that these additional 21,000-plus troops are cannon fodder and may lose their lives and we lose the war anyway. That's a possibility. I agree with your point that it's hardly a subject that's going to be hashed out on Wednesday at the Capitol. It hasn't --
BROPHY: I got news for you, Craig. The only time the United States has ever lost a war was in Vietnam, and that's when politicians tried to micromanage the war and not let the military experts run the war that they needed to run.