Cory Gardner

Amiable and Approachable Danger

U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO04) speaks at a rally in Littleton, Colorado, 29 September 2014.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Three paragraphs from Stuart Rothenberg to mark the date by. This could be very important:

Though I took notice of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio for president, I didn’t immediately think about Gardner as a possible running mate for Rubio — until a CQ Roll Call colleague dropped that pearl of wisdom in my lap.

But there are plenty of reasons why Gardner needs to be on any Rubio shortlist of possible running mates, even this early in the 2016 election cycle.

In a party full of elected officials who look and sound angry and bitter, the Colorado Republican invariably is cheerful and optimistic. That doesn’t mean that Gardner is happy with the direction of the country or defends the status quo, but it does mean he is amiable and approachable. Not surprisingly, that makes him appealing to many voters, particularly those who are less ideological and less partisan.

This is an interesting, and even potentially terrifying notion. Sen. Gardner is a proper culture warrior. Amiable and approachable is one thing, but consider the story of how he got to the Senate.

In 2010, Republicans ran a former Weld County prosecutor named Ken Buck for U.S. Senate. Mr. Buck, it turned out, suffered a vital weakness; as prosecutor he refused to charge a confessed rape, telling the victim she bore guilt in her own rape, and telling the public he did not think the good people of Weld County could convict a confessed rape. Democrat Michael Bennet won by a narrow margin.

In 2014, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall faced re-election, and Republicans feared another Ken Buck run. Instead, the Congressman from Colorado’s Fourth stepped up, and Cory Gardner became a Senate candidate. While he was not a rape abettor like Mr. Buck, Mr. Gardner faced exposure for his sponsorship of an anti-abortion bill attempting to curtail the human rights of women. So he denied his support for the bill, but refused to remove his name as a sponsor. This was good enough for the people of Colorado, and in the Fourth Congressional District they sent the rape abettor, Mr. Buck, to fill Mr. Gardner’s seat in the House of Representatives.

Amiable and approachable is one thing, but that speaks nothing to statecraft, or the quality and efficiency thereof.

As a vice presidential nominee, Mr. Gardner would simply be an amiable and approachable face of danger.

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Image note: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO04) speaks at a rally in Littleton, Colorado, 29 September 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Rothenberg, Stuart. “Cory Gardner for Veep? Don’t Laugh”. Rothenblog. Roll Call. 3 November 2015.

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A Note on an Abomination

"Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination" ― Headline from Marc Leandro of The Huffington Post, 31 March 2015, in reference to the Indiana Republican signing into law a Religious Freedom Act intended to enshrine discrimination in state law.

There really is a reason for Marc Leandro’s headline, “Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination”.

The situation in Indiana is upsetting for a lot of reasons. First among them is the overt discrimination against LGBT individuals the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as currently written, will protect under the law. And a close second is the utter venality displayed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

In the photograph taken of Pence at the bill’s private signing ceremony, he is surrounded by various religious figures, and some activists well known to the LGBT community in Indiana. Micah Clark, standing behind and to the left of the governor, has claimed publicly that homosexuality is a “disorder” that can be treated. Curt Smith, directly behind the governor, has equated gayness with bestiality and helped to write the bill the governor was signing. Eric Miller, to the right, was the man behind a flyer claiming falsely that if same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana, religious figures might be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.

Again, this was a closed ceremony, and one has to presume that the governor had knowledge of who would be there. These are people that the governor is close to, who in at least one case helped to write the bill, and in two other cases have taken public stances against LGBT individuals. I take that back — publicly they might state that they love “the homosexuals” but hate their “sin”, a distinction as infuriating as it is dunderheaded.

This goes back at least a quarter of a century. Or, it was on already on fire when I arrived.

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Prognostication

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, 23 March 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.You know, with all the diversity in the right-wing tinfoil and wingnut sectors, it is sometimes hard to choose. Then again, misogyny tends to stand out. Trump talks to plot a place in politics; Lindsey Graham belabors Benghazi; a sense of inevitability about a Bush-Clinton grudge match has a wearying effect even as the ponies register for the sideshow.

But misogyny perches on a precarious pedestal. The 2012 debacle caught so many off guard, yet the signs were all there. The Tea Party Revolution set out to remake the House in its own image, trying to distinguish between statutory and other forms of rape. Even Ron Paul had his go, waxing furiously about “honest” rape, but perhaps we gave him a pass for being from Texas, or simply for being Ron Paul. Mitt Romney stumbled over Blunt-Rubio, and Republicans dragged birth control back into controversy.

And this year everyone looks to Hillary Clinton, the one person in Washington who should be sick and tired of State of the Union Addresses, having attended some twenty of them as First Lady, United States Senator, and Secretary of State. If men have reason to fret about their penises, they ought not wag them about as the glass ceiling shatters.

Misogyny really could be the show. As Republicans hope to lipstick wage inequality (Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN07) and women’s health (Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC05), compel rape and trafficking survivors to bear assailants’ children, and, well, run a presidential election against a female candidate, don’t ignore this impish hatred.

No, seriously, at this point, who will be the least bad on women’s rights? Jeb Bush? Perhaps the most alarming aspect of that suggestion is that even having seen just how poorly Mitt Romney’s campaign went over, we might wonder how well Jeb will or won’t handle these issues. Certes he can’t be as bad as Romney was on Blunt-Rubio; then again, after Cory Gardner’s ascension to the Senate, we might have reason to wonder if it really matters one way or another. They are, in the end, Republicans.

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Tomorrow, Tom. “A sneak peek”. This Modern World. Daily Kos. 23 March 2015.

Farcical

Detail of promotional image from Ark Encounter.

Some fascinating questions should not be so … er … fascinating. To wit: Can one’s equal rights be violated by the proposition that equality is not supremacy?

Catherine Thompson of Talking Points Memo frames the latest iteration of the question:

The saga that is the construction of Ark Encounter, Kentucky’s proposed “creationist theme park,” plowed on Tuesday as the project’s coordinator vowed to sue the state for discrimination.

Ironically, it was the project’s proprietor, Answers in Genesis, refusing to agree to hiring practices that wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of religion that led Kentucky tourism officials to yank about $18 million worth of crucial tax incentives for Ark Encounter in December.

Answers in Genesis said in a statement Tuesday that the decision to reject its application for the tax incentives “violates federal and state law and amounts to unlawful viewpoint discrimination.”

“Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary,” Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham said in the statement. “However, the state was so insistent on treating our religious entity as a second-class citizen that we were simply left with no alternative but to proceed to court. This is the latest example of increasing government hostility towards religion in America, and it’s certainly among the most blatant.”

This is a theme conservatives have echoed for years. The general idea is that by some device, the very concept of equality means that some people must be allowed superiority.

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A Quote: Why Details Matter

USCapitol-bw

For all the talk about Democrats running away from President Obama, there are a surprising number of examples of Republicans running away from their own policy agenda.

Steve Benen

It is a valid point, and one worth considering.

Because, you know, details matter. Congressional Republicans complain every time President Obama agrees with them. They scream about Nazis if Democrats actually accept a GOP policy proposal. They beat their chests and say what the president should do about war and peace, and then complain when he does it. They decide the president should handle things according to executive authority, and then threaten to sue the president for using his executive authority.

And then there is the fun part where politicians like Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO4) try to run away from their own policy history.

It is simply a matter of narrative. And it is also why details matter. To wit, if someone who has been arguing against you suddenly flips and says he’s your best choice because he’s on your side and the person who has observably been on your side isn’t, perhaps that would be a time when details matter.

Fool you once? Can’t get fooled again? Right. Details matter.

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Benen, Steve. “Republicans keep blasting Dems for being too conservative”. msnbc. 3 November 2014.

The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

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