View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, August 06, 2004

Back into the Fire 

Last night, for the last LA-Denver flight of the evening, they boarded the plane on time. Of course, the flight crew was delayed, so they had to grab another one. And the pilots were late, so they started asking for volunteers. Naturally, they announced all of this after we had been sitting in a plane without air conditioning for 30 minutes. In LA. In August.

At least now, I have some idea of why United is bankrupt.

On a cheerier note, it looks like someone will have some 'splainin' to do Tuesday evening. The Post reports a Mason-Dixon poll showing Coors with a slight lead, 46-41, among likely primary voters, and Schaffer with a 1-point lead among definite voters. (On the Democratic side, Salazar is smart not to spend money for the primary. Over a third of Democrats don't even know who Mike Miles is.)

The good news is that the negative ads, while they may prove decisive in a close primary, don't actually seem to have been all that effective. Only 7% of voters think that Coors favors same-sex marriage, and 20% of the small, 400-person sample, think that Schaffer "padded his resume." So these impressions are unlikely to last into the general election, as some of us had feared.

In the meantime, Coors announced that the company health plan will stop covering abortions:

Coors told the activist he'd been unaware until recently that the company he ran covered abortion, because it was not specifically spelled out in their plan.

"I've always been totally opposed to any kind of voluntary kinds of surgery. We don't do breast implants. We don't do face jobs. We don't do any of that kind of stuff. And when I learned that we do abortions, I was very surprised," Coors said.

"It's not in our health plan," he added. "You have to actually call and ask. The only way I would know that, I guess, is if I needed an abortion and called."

I'm not sure what company runs Coors's health insurance, but it's not unusual to have to call to find out if a specific procedure is covered, and under what circumstances, so it's entirely possible that a corporate chairman might not know this. Remember, the decisions you make as a company are different from those you make as a politician, no matter what Buie says in class.

That said, bringing this up now, making the decision days before the primary, is only going to hurt Coors's case that he's not the company, but that his business experience matters. It's likely to make it look like Coors wants it both ways.

Coors has had this problem since he announced, and he's drawn a reasonable line: he is responsible to shareholders and employees, and can't run the company like a fiefdom; at the same time, his experience running a large corporation gives him unique insight into how public policy affects business.

Announcing this decision, with this timing, is more likely to get opponents to shout "Aha!" than it is to win over party undecideds.

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