In a 12 May speech to Republican supporters, KUSA-TV reported, Coffman concluded by saying:
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.After a pause, the audience applauded. A supporter posted the recording on the web, stating, “I’m glad the congressman said it. Not enough have.”
A few days later, after Democratic activists and journalists picked up on Coffman’s words, he issued a written apology denying that he really believed what he’d told that closed meeting—and repeating another common lie about President Obama:
I don’t believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism. His policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many equals.Back in November 2010, Andrew Sullivan identified right-wing claims that Obama doesn’t believe that America is a preeminent nation as “The Big Lie,” showing how the President had said exactly the opposite in the speech those critics quote.
Complaining about lack of “American exceptionalism” is a mask for conservatives’ real, irrational response to seeing Barack Obama exercising executive power like previous Presidents. And that same unnameable anxiety surfaced when Coffman told his audience that Obama is “just not an American.”