As we noted last week, Sen. Cory Gardner’s outrage over the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind Obama-era protections against a federal crackdown on marijuana in states that have legalized cannabis left un–or at least under–stated something very important: the fact that Gardner, alone among Colorado’s representatives in Washington, cast a key vote to confirm Sessions. This puts Gardner is a much more directly responsible position for Sessions’ actions than anyone else in the state.
After Gardner’s speech, he received a round of talking-head credit for “standing up to Trump,” including another rote atta-boy from the Denver Post editorial board. But the Boulder Daily Camera editorial board, on the other hand, isn’t buying it:
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner was shocked — shocked! — last week to discover that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had reneged on his pledge to keep his nose out of Colorado’s burgeoning marijuana industry…
Gardner is right about Sessions’ mendacity, of course, although we think it’s a little late in the day to wake up to that fact. And the junior senator’s outsized outrage is highly suspicious. Like most of the state’s prominent politicians, he opposed marijuana legalization. And while his sudden devotion to states’ rights is interesting, it’s not particularly persuasive.
That leaves two possible explanations for an expression of outrage more melodramatic than Captain Renault’s deadpan in “Casablanca.” One is personal pique — he voted to confirm Sessions as attorney general because of that pledge and now he feels betrayed. We’re not buying it. Gardner has been in Washington long enough to know politicians reverse themselves all the time. Like, for example, Cory Gardner on “personhood.” [Pols emphasis]
…According to the website fivethirtyeight.com, Gardner has voted with Trump 94.6 percent of the time, despite the fact that Colorado delivered its electoral votes to Hillary Clinton, not Trump, in 2016. So much for his fealty to the will of Colorado voters.
Without the endless benefit of the doubt Gardner is afforded by the Post and other members of the local pundit class, this is a much more accurate–if less flattering–examination of Gardner’s record. Anecdotal moments of “standing up to Trump” as Gardner went through the motions of with legal marijuana last week cannot erase the fact that Gardner votes with Trump almost all the time–including the highest profile votes of 2017 on repealing health care reform and slashing taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Not to mention Gardner’s vote to confirm Jeff Sessions.
As frustrating as it may be to watch Gardner get credit he doesn’t deserve for what amounts to token CYA statements, this editorial sums up very well what Gardner should be afraid of when that finally stops working. As the saying goes, anecdotes do not equal data. And the record shows clearly, from Gardner’s condemnation of the Trump-energized racist right after Charlottesville to his faux outrage over Jeff Sessions, that Gardner has enabled the very things he decries.
Anything less than a full acknowledgement of this, every time, is a disservice to the facts.