One week ago, Sen. Cory Gardner appeared on Fox and Friends, the avowedly pro-Donald Trump morning show famous for being regularly watched by Trump personally. In that appearance, Gardner downplayed the threat posed by Russia in a way that surely pleased the show’s viewers–including that one really special viewer:
KILMEADE: Senator when they used to have battles in the old days, the generals would lead, they used to be on the front lines. Isn’t that kind of the way the President’s doing things? He leads, and behind him is Pompeo, Mattis and Bolton. Should we get used to that?
GARDNER: I think that’s exactly the style that you’ve seen from this President, whether it’s Kim Jong Un or whether it’s Vladimir Putin. [Pols emphasis] But again, I, I don’t think, you know remember what happened over the last eight years. You had, you had a President Obama who said to Mitt Romney, uh, ‘the 80s are calling they want their foreign policy back.’ And now we see Russia taking this center stage role that the Democrats denied for the last eight years. It’s pretty remarkable.
It’s difficult to interpret this any other way than validation of Trump’s approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and an attack on Democrats for overblowing a threat they had previously downplayed. Again, it’s critical to understand the audience for this message–hardened Trump base voters, and Donald Trump personally.
Why is it important to know about Gardner’s appearance on Fox and Friends last week? Because when Gardner isn’t on Fox, he seems to take a very different view of Trump’s foreign policy–as Denver7’s Blair Miller reported yesterday:
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced a new package of sanctions aimed at Russia over its continued interference in American elections and ongoing activities in Syria and Crimea as cybersecurity officials warned that the interference was ongoing…
“The United States must continue to take strong actions against Vladimir Putin’s Russia for their global violations of international law and repeated attempts to undermine U.S. democratic institutions,” Gardner said in a statement. “Unless Russia fundamentally changes its behavior, we must not repeat the mistakes of past Administrations of trying to normalize relations with a nation that continues to pose a serious threat to the United States and our allies.”
Notice how Gardner still can’t bring himself to criticize Trump directly, couching his statement in “the mistakes of past Administrations” instead of talking about Trump’s absolutely disastrous summit in Helsinki with Putin. But even without that, the contradiction between what Gardner said on Fox and Friends about Trump’s foreign policy and what he says outside the Fox News propaganda bubble is big enough to drive a tank through. There’s just no way to reconcile this without acknowledging that Gardner is misleading somebody. Either the pro-Trump audience on Fox and Friends, or everybody else. Once you realize that Gardner simply is telling both sides what they want to hear, it’s all a lot easier to understand.
It blows Gardner’s credibility out of the water, but at least it makes sense.