Littwin: No-show Cory stars in the ballad of a (paper) thin man

So now we know the answer to that oft-posed question: What if they held a Cory Gardner town hall and everyone but Cory Gardner showed?

OK, it wasn’t exactly headline news that Gardner ducked the packed Byers Middle School event. He had ducked a similar one in Fort Collins the other night, and his office had said he wouldn’t be there. And let’s be honest, Gardner must be the least likely politician in America to voluntarily show up for a sure-to-be-confrontational night on the town.

That was the plan. Gardner would be invited. He wouldn’t show. The questions would be asked anyway.

Only a Cardboard Cutout Cory, all smiles, would be there to refuse to answer the questions, which, by the way, turned out to be almost uniformly well researched and on point.

So, he’d be embarrassed, and anti-Trumpists would take one more step toward showing that the stakes have changed and that, in part because of their protests, Obamacare would become suddenly popular.

This was Trump-era political theater, harkening back to old-school guerrilla theater. You’ll see more of this (and, just guessing, even less of Gardner) as TrumpWorld continues to be all a-wobble.

But if the point of the empty-chair town hall was to embarrass no-show Gardner, I’m guessing it was a failure. This is no fault of the organizers or of the questions asked or of empty-chair-pioneer Clint Eastwood. The organizers ran a very interesting show, which included a shoutout to journalists, otherwise known as enemies of the people. The crowd went nuts. Who could ask for more than that?

The thing about Gardner — and what makes him the politician that he is — is that he can’t be embarrassed. He’s the master of blush-free politics.

If you can trap Gardner and get him to take a tough question, he will dodge with impunity, as he did in the infamous there-is-no-federal-personhood-bill Eli Stokols interview. Or as he did Friday with Joe St. George, of Fox 31 Denver. St. George asked him four times whether he would hold a town hall as protesters were demanding. And four times Gardner refused to answer the question. It was vintage Cory — all obfuscation, all the time.

We can take pride in the non-alternative fact that the whole GOP duck-and-cover-town-hall phenomenon basically began in Colorado. It was Mike Coffman, you’ll recall, who was caught on video sneaking out of a meeting with constituents, sounding a very un-Marine-like retreat. The 9News video went viral, and nothing has been the same since.

Most Republicans, including Coffman, took the lesson to heart and simply stopped doing town halls, replacing them with what they call tele-town halls, which are working out about as well as repealing and replacing Obamacare. Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas showed how badly it’s going. He said he wasn’t holding town halls because of dangerous protesters, citing the shooting of Gabby Giffords at her 2011 “Congress on Your Corner” meeting.

Giffords, a Democrat who didn’t appreciate Gohmert’s sympathy, hit back hard, saying that town-hall dodgers should show some “courage” while noting that “I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning, my offices were open to the public.”

But Gardner is no Gohmert. And he’s not even a Ken Buck, who did show some courage this week by hosting an invite-only, quasi-town hall in Castle Pines – and not kicking out the Colorado Independent reporter who showed up to cover it.

Meanwhile, Gardner has spent his week in Colorado pretending to meet the people and sending out tweets and news releases about his meetings, headlined like this one: Gardner Meets Coloradans Along the Front Range. He did meet Coloradans, select Coloradans, like the Colorado Space Coaltion and MillersCoors employees and a friendly crowd at an agriculture forum. You get the idea. No questions about, say, Betsy DeVos or Russian interference in the 2016 election or an EPA secretary who doesn’t believe in climate change or, well, the list goes on. And on. And on.

In Gardner’s defense — well, not really, but sort of — he’s in a fix. And the only way to make things right would be to go completely honest. In other words, he has no way out.

You’ll remember that Gardner had slammed Trump during the primary season while serving as a Marco Rubio surrogate. Then there was the twitter war over the GOP caucuses. And, finally, during the general election, there was the, uh, groping video which so offended Gardner — and the pollsters — that Gardner said Trump should step aside and that, if he didn’t, he would write in Mike Pence.

This was a rare piece of Gardner boldness, and I think we know the lesson he learned — right after going with the GOP-sanctioned attack that protesters were being paid. Which was to make as few stands as possible.

Since Trump has been elected, Gardner has voted 100 percent with him. Of course, so have 47 other Republicans. He has criticized Trump on relations with Russia, but not very loudly and not so you’d really notice. And he did say that the immigration ban was overbroad and needed to be fixed. What he hasn’t said, of course, is that Trump lies constantly, that he’s a bully and a demagogue, that Steve Bannon is too dangerous to be anywhere near the White House, that the press isn’t, in fact, an enemy of the people.

I don’t think Gardner is worried so much about what Trump thinks. It’s a little late for that. We know Trump is the unforgiving type and that even begging wouldn’t help Gardner now.

What must worry Gardner more — much, much more — are all the pro-Trumpist Republicans in Colorado. Gardner can’t afford to lose them. At the same time, he can’t afford to be too pro-Trump in a state Trump has already lost. And Gardner’s next race is in 2020 when he’ll be facing angry Democrats and possibly disappointed Republicans in a presidential election year that, as of now, would feature Trump on the ticket.

If you like political theater, and I know I do, this is just the first act.

Photo credit: Kelsey Ray


  1. It’s my hope that we all live through this debacle, because if we do, this will be the end of the republicans for at least a generation. They are dong what they ALWAYS do whenever they get in power. They are overreaching and doing everything they want, regardless of the fact that most of US don’t want them to. This is their pattern. They seem to think that just because they get into power, they will stay that way. They fail to recognize their own repulsiveness to the majority of Americans.

    When Americans are asked what they actually want and support, republican ideas fail dramatically. Yes, we believe that people should be able to stand on their own, but we also believe that if we need it, there should be SOME help there. We’re not for government interfering with our lives, and we PREFER that business have some rules that it has to play by. We WANT background checks on guns, and we believe that EVERYONE should have the right to vote. We believe in a far more just and HUMANE society than the right wants to believe.

    Gardner is a selfish, smarmy little man who cares more about his own political ass than the lives of the people of this state. He had ONE principled stand and has fallen in line behind the WORST president this country will ever have. He’s NOT thinking like an AMERICAN at all. Just a good German. And that’s one thing we do NOT need.

    Do better CO, LOSE this twit. We deserve better.

  2. This is FAKE NEWS. Headline should read something like: “Biased Denver Post helps propagandize publicity gimmick while congressman and public fails to acknowledge another gripe-fest staged by bitchy liberals”

  3. Clown car delivers several cartons of Desitin to Colorado Independent office.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump.” – Mike Littwin, July 2015


    Since November 8th Mr. Littwin’s columns have become a toxic mix of hyper-partisan politics, over-the-top fear mongering and stunning hypocrisy. As his tether to the real world continues to unravel Mr. Littwin sounds more and more like he needs someone to pat him on the head and tell him everything will be alright. And everything will be alright, at least for the next eight years.

    How Mr. Littwin can continue to write a political commentary column after admitting he doesn’t know how or why President Trump was elected boggles the mind. But continue he does. It helps to have a like-minded audience. Preaching to the choir makes ignoring contradictions so much easier.

    Mr. Littwin has no abiding principles, preferring instead to temporarily borrow those he occasionally needs to support his left-of-everything agenda and returning them when he’s finished. He hates fear mongering unless, of course, he’s the one doing it, “What does matter, and what I’m arguing, is that Trump’s presidency is a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger.”

    What Mr. Littwin believes today is not necessarily what he’ll believe tomorrow (e.g. Laquan McDonald).

    And that is what makes Mr. Littwin not only a political hack but a flaming hypocrite. He criticizes politicians—-especially Republican politicians—- for behaving exactly the way he does. He accuses Senator Gardner of “ducking” questions while he “ducks” inconvenient facts. Same tactic, different format. For example:

    – “From Montana to West Virginia, the nation’s most vulnerable Senate Democrats are avoiding town hall meetings as their Republican counterparts get pummeled by an energized electorate frustrated with President Donald Trump’s early agenda.

    Some Democrats prefer to connect with constituents over the telephone or using social media. Others are meeting voters in controlled environments with limited opportunities to ask questions. But few of the 10 Democratic senators facing re-election next year in states carried by Trump have scheduled in-person town hall meetings during this week’s congressional recess.” – via the Associated Press

    – Rep. DeGette held a Facebook town hall meeting without being accused by Mr. Littwin of ducking an event. Of course, the bar for DeGette is much, much lower because of her political affiliation.

    – Rep. Ed Perlmutter and former Rep. Betsy Markey have both held phone-in town hall meetings without being accused by Mr. Littwin of ducking an event. Of course, like DeGette, the bar for them is much, much lower because of their political affiliation.

    – Rep. Perlmutter even postponed one of his scheduled phone-in town hall meetings without any accusations of “ducking” from Mr. Littwin. Hmm, maybe it’s his party affiliation.

    – According to a new Quinnipiac poll voters approve 47 – 41 percent of the way President Trump is handling the economy.

    – According to MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski the media’s job is controlling “exactly what people think”.

    – CBS’s John Dickerson says “the press (ruined its own reputation) all on its own by acting hysterically about “every little thing.””

    – “It is difficult to overstate just how enraged state Democratic activists and leaders are with Organizing for Action (OFA), the political and community-organizing army that grew out of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

    The nonprofit, which functions as a sort of parallel-Democratic National Committee, was founded to mobilize Democratic voters and supporters in defense of President Obama’s, and the Democratic Party’s, agenda. Instead, the organization has drawn the intense ire, both public and private, of grassroots organizers and state parties that are convinced that OFA inadvertently helped decimate Democrats at the state and local level, while Republicans cemented historic levels of power and Donald J. Trump actually became leader of the free world.” – Via The Daily Beast

    Those are just a few examples of things Mr. Littwin assiduously avoids acknowledging because they not only contradict his political narrative they reveal how politically clueless he really is, like this beauty: “If the polls are right — and, while they’ve been wrong before, they’ve never been quite this wrong — the only remaining question in the presidential race is how badly (or, if you will, how bigly) Donald Trump will lose.”

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    Mr. Littwin criticizes Senator Gardner for “ducking” a town hall meeting while completely ignoring that some Democrats are doing…..the…..very….same……thing and in the past some Colorado Democrats have done…..the…..very….same……thing. So is Mr. Littwin against all elected officials avoiding town hall meetings or only Republican elected officials? I’m sure he’ll answer that in a forthcoming column.

    Or not.

    But at the end of the day the really good news is this: President Trump is still in the White House and Mr. Littwin is, well, not.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

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