Our long national nightmare is over. OK, maybe it was just my nightmare, but after more than a year off the job, I’m back writing a column — meaning, if history is any guide, it could once again be Tom Tancredo’s worst dream come true.
If you’ve found me, you’ll know we’re meeting here at The Colorado Independent, a rejuvenated news-and-politics website that will not only publish my column twice a week but also run my Fair & Unbalanced blog as often as I get around to writing it. And here’s the kicker: The editors have even agreed to pay me, and in American dollars (although I confess I negotiated for Bitcoins).
At this point, you probably have a few questions – like where the hell I’ve been and why I’ve suddenly resurfaced.
The first question is easy. Since leaving the Denver Post — in a move they called a “financial emergency” and I called “dumping the overpaid old guy” — I’ve been nowhere, doing approximately nothing. That wasn’t necessarily the plan. I was going to take the time to finally write that novel, which, it turns out, is hard work and does not include expense-account lunches. Worse still, it doesn’t give a poor writer the chance to routinely take potshots at politicians like Tancredo, who once compared reading my column to “swimming in sewage.” I always meant to ask him how and when he did the research.
When not novelizing, I did what I could to keep busy. Did a little freelancing. Did a little traveling. Did a little surveying on the side, mostly working on the boundaries for the 51st state (Area 51, as Lynn Bartels calls it). But mostly I did what I’ve done for years — get up, go to the Tattered Cover, read the papers, drink a $4 coffee and lounge happily in the Littwin Memorial Leather Chair.
Life was perfect, or nearly so. So, why would I give that up?
I can answer in three words: Gessler, Brophy, Tancredo.
Those are, of course, the three funniest words in Colorado politics since McInnis, Maes, Tancredo. Yeah, I can’t stop laughing either. And, well, crying. You see, they are why I had to come back. I admit it, I’m a junkie. I missed the action, the politics and, of course, the political follies. Tom Tancredo and Greg Brophy are already in the governor’s race. Scott Gessler will be in the race this week, as soon as he tracks down the last, or his first, dead Democratic voter. And John Hickenlooper — fearful that the gun-control laws he reluctantly signed might have made him look like, shudder, a liberal — gets to laugh all the way back to the governor’s office. How could I miss that?
When Susan Greene, the editor here, asked me to join her merry little band at The Indy, I could have said how much I’d missed the rush of deadline or how journalism needs to be saved or how democracy depends on a free press. But what I said was, “If Tancredo’s in, I’m in, too.”
But it’s not as if I have to wait around for the fun to kick in. We begin just in time for the first-ever Colorado senatorial recalls, brought to you by the gun stalwarts at the NRA as well as Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, whose motto is “Guns, guns, more guns, someone pass me the bazooka.”
I’ll be at John Morse’s victory party/wake to see whether the “gunnies” – the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara’s word — have enough clout in Colorado to knock off a couple of state senators, including Morse, who, it must be said, sort of dared them to do it.
Morse, the Senate president from Colorado Springs, not only championed a few moderate, sane gun-control laws for a state that, after Columbine and Aurora, has become a symbol for the insanity of gun violence. He also introduced a bill — one that had no chance of passing — to hold gun manufacturers and sellers liable for particularly negligent behavior on their part. You could hear the gasps from here to Magpul Industries. (By the way, whatever happened to Magpul? They’ve said they’re leaving the state, but it’s been, let’s say, a slow departure. Maybe they’re waiting to see if the Area 51 secessionists offer them refugee status.)
The recall votes are, of course, absurd. I have no idea why Angela Giron is facing recall in Pueblo. I’ve never met George Rivera, the guy running against her, a Republican who was once Pueblo’s deputy police chief. But I have heard him interviewed. As far as I can tell, the only thing he knows about state government is that it’s in a far-away place he’s heard about called Denver.
The Morse recall attempt makes even less sense. He’s term-limited next year. Let me repeat that: He’s term limited next year. He can’t run again. So he’s being recalled, at taxpayer expense, because, you know, guns. And because he once quoted Robert Kennedy, and because the gun boys – who seemed to miss the irony that Kennedy was killed by, yes, a gun — jumped at the chance to misquote both him and Kennedy. Morse is being challenged by Bernie Herpin, founding member of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition because, I guess, Wild Bill Hickok wasn’t available.
Why did I decide to write a column again? Do you have to ask? Sure, there are the big issues out there — Syria and immigration and education and budget showdowns and drones and civil rights and civil liberties. I’ll hit them all and more.
But I couldn’t wait to have a go at the recall frenzy game. My only regret is that Tancredo is basically sitting this one out. Well, there’s always next year.