Fair and Unbalanced

Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Straight face? You try it.

Littwin: Straight face? You try it.

If every picture of Cory Gardner shows him flashing a big smile, there’s a reason. And it’s not just because he’s a friendly, likable guy (although he is).

The reason for the big smile, I’d guess, is that he’s having trouble keeping a straight face.

Give Gardner credit. The one thing he knew when he started his Senate campaign was that he couldn’t win by being, well, Cory Gardner — not when the National Journal had ranked him in 2012 as the 10th most conservative member of the House of Representatives. To give you an idea, Michele Bachmann didn’t make the top 25.

So, he had to change. But there’s change and then there’s this.

The reason for the big Cory Gardner smile, I’d guess, is that he’s having trouble keeping a straight face.

One day he’s regular, smiling, 10th-most Cory, and then next he’s pro-pill, anti-personhood, pro-windmill, pro-DREAMer (still smiling) Cory, the “new kind of Republican,” as it says in the TV ad. And, gosh, you’d hope so, given that the old kind of Republican has lost every top-of-the-ballot race in Colorado since 2004.

But to say that the sudden makeover is a little cynical would be to miss the point, not to mention all the backstage costume changes. This isn’t politics as usual. It’s more like magic. What we’re seeing is Gardner reconfiguring himself as the perfect kind of Republican to win in a bluish state.

You can say that the old Cory repeatedly voted for personhood, for big oil, against the DREAMers and cite each vote. But that risks sounding like so much whining. Gardner is attempting something on a grander scale. He’s not trying to convince everyone that he’s changed, but rather, that despite all the evidence, this is basically who he has always been.

It started with Gardner’s renunciation of Colorado personhood, of course. Yes, it was a rough patch. He had to have a reason why he was once (actually three or four times) a strong supporter of personhood and now, suddenly, he wasn’t. He decided on going for ignorance. He said he hadn’t understood that the concept of life beginning at conception might preclude certain kinds of birth control, even though everyone said so at the time. But now that he understands it, he says, he’s naturally changed his position.

OK, the idea that the summa cum laude college student hadn’t bothered to study up on the issue is preposterous. Still, he made a little mistake. He neglected to undo his co-sponsorship of the federal personhood bill. So he’s officially against personhood and he’s officially for personhood, which he explains by saying that his co-sponsorship is just a way to send a message.

Straight face? You try it.

But we’ve moved on. OK, the Democrats haven’t moved on. They’re running scary, apocalyptic ads every day on Gardner and abortion and personhood, saying that Gardner led a “crusade” against birth control, which might be a slight exaggeration.

But the new Cory has moved on. To the pill. And this is where it gets really good. I hope you’ve seen the ad because the ad tells the entire story. Yes, there’s the windmill ad in which Gardner basically claims he invented the Internet or whatever the equivalent would be of wind energy.

The pill ad is different. It gets to something essential. You may remember that Gardner wrote an op-ed in the Denver Post calling for the pill to be sold over the counter, where everyone could buy it, and where market forces would make the pill cheap and affordable for all.

This, he hoped, would get him past — or at least sideways with — personhood and Hobby Lobby and the whole birth control problem that Republicans have brought upon themselves. I thought it was great strategy. The shock effect alone might make you forget, if just momentarily, the Rush/slut fiasco.

But Gardner kept getting slammed. And now, he is slamming back. You can’t believe this — Udall certainly can’t — but Gardner has gone to Udall’s left on women. It’s a move you’ll have to replay a few times to believe. He…could…go…all…the…way.

Here’s the script, which doesn’t mention that, under Obamacare, most contraceptives are free:

“What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you,” Gardner says in a town-hall type setting, as if he’s answering a question from the crowd. As he speaks, women are seen nodding their heads.

“Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you — and that’s a big difference.”

So Gardner, who is strongly anti-abortion, is using the language of, say, Planned Parenthood. Rights, freedom, control. Definitely a new kind of Republican. A desperate kind, or a really shrewd one?

Gardner released the ad just days before the first Senate debate Saturday night in Grand Junction. The debate might offer a clue. Meanwhile, Udall’s campaign called the ad “jaw-dropping.” One Democrat called it “chutzpah.” And Gardner? We’ll know things have really changed if his campaign starts to call it Cory’s Plan B.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin


  1. Will Morrison on said:

    Gardner is NOT a good choice for this state, at least not by me. He stands for and votes for things that the majority of us are against, he stands for things that we would NEVER force on the public, and now he LIES about his support for these things. This is NOT who we want in this state. He does NOT represent US, he represents big money and all the society destroying nonsense they want to force on us.

    Look at what the republicans say, and then look at what they DO. Gardner SAYS he’s for “freedom”, and then votes against it at every opportunity, especially for women. He and they talk about getting government out of our lives, then vote for the EXACT opposite.

    And now he wants you to believe that the very things he’s been out in front of aren’t what he actually wants at all! Then WHY has he been the champion of these things? Because he’s been TOO STUPID to understand what they were about? THAT’S a glowing recommendation! “Vote for me, I’m IGNORANT” is NOT something I’d consider a winning strategy, but then, I’m not a republican.

    A vote for Gardner is a vote AGAINST the people of this state. Be smarter than that. Please.

  2. ins3549 on said:

    yea we need a whole lot more of what we have been getting – How to create a social state by Saul Alinsky:

    There are 8 levels of control that must be obtained before you are able to create a social state. 3) Debt — Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.
    5) Welfare — Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income). Points three and five of the way to control Americans –

  3. Will Morrison on said:

    And there are 14 points to fascism, ALL of which we meet in spades and are getting worse. Things like massive income inequality, rampant religiousness in government, marriage of corporate world and government, suppression of individual rights for those of the state, etc.

    If you want more of that, by all means, vote for Gardner. He’s dumb enough to vote for it and then tell you that he didn’t know he was voting for it. Are you dumb enough to believe him?

    Oh, and for the record, freedom is NOT the same thing as abandonment, regardless of what the right will tell you.

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    You can say this much for Mr. Littwin’s reporting on Representative Gardner: To date, he’s stuck to the facts.

    Which is more than can be said about Mr. Littwin’s employer, The Colorado Independent, or MSNBC, the cable TV propaganda arm of the White House.

    On August 7th the CI reported that while casually perusing a three-year-old Congressional Quarterly transcript in an attempt to “unearth buried facts”–one of CI’s many mission goals–they discovered Representative Gardner had undergone two hip replacement surgeries. It was deemed noteworthy because the Congressman “ has spoken about his health care repeatedly when expressing his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.”

    In other words, CI thought they had a gotcha. There was only one problem: the story wasn’t true.

    And Mediaite.com reports that on September 4th MSNBC “aired video footage of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner during a segment tease about a Georgia man who is being accused of leaving his child in a hot car to die.

    Gardner, currently a congressman running for the Senate out of Colorado, is not accused of any such crime.

    The caption “FATHER INDICTED” appeared over Gardner’s image.”

    Both The Colorado Independent and MSNBC have acknowledged their errors and—with a straight face– apologized. MSNBC—through constant practice—has become quite proficient at such apologies.

    Was this another one of CI’s many, many unforced errors or was it a deliberate attempt to help Senator Udall’s reelection bid by distorting the record of his opponent?

    “But the one thing it was impossible to imagine, back in the giddy days of the 2009 inauguration, as Americans basked in their open-mindedness and pluralism, was that the first African-American president would outsource race.”
    Maureen Dowd August 27, 2014

    “I think Obama understands people’s concerns. After spending the day at the beach, he said, ‘this has been fun but I should really get back to the golf course because priorities are priorities.’”
    Jimmy Fallon

    Veterans Day – November 11, 2014

  5. Don Sherwood on said:

    We thought we were done with Littwin when the Rocky folded. Then we thought we were done with Littwin when the Denver Post fired him. But, then, the Boulder Camera, that ever faithful far left rag, on occasion picks up his foolishness. I’m looking forward to gloating when Gardner, takes Udall’s seat om the Senate.

    Udall CANNOT run on his record of support for failed policies and legislation. So, what do Udall and his hapless supporters do, bring up free, government paid birth control and free, government paid, unfettered, at will abortion (murder), claiming, falsely, Garnder’s positions on the subjects.

    “Liar, lair, pants on fire.”

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