Earlier this week we wrote about Sen. Cory Gardner’s attempt to appear as though he is taking a very important position on a very obvious policy question regarding President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Gardner voiced his opposition to Trump’s move but hasn’t done much else of note; Turkey has since attacked U.S.-aligned Kurdish forces in Northern Syria, which means that U.S. allies that had been focused on fighting against ISIS are now instead worried about protecting their own families from the Turkish military.
Gardner’s comments about Syria were interesting mostly because he has said virtually nothing about other recent foreign policy problems created by President Trump’s distressing discussions with Ukraine and China. This is a pretty standard practice by Gardner when faced with pressure to comment on a distasteful situation involving his own political party; it is the equivalent of yelling “SQUIRREL!” and pointing behind someone so that you can run away when they turn their head.
Ol’ Cory is suddenly very excitable about how the National Basketball Association (NBA) may be dealing with free speech issues related to protests in Hong Kong (we’ll get to the hypocrisy of this response in a moment). He’s a bit mixed up about the facts, but Gardner nevertheless Tweeted about the issue yesterday and then followed up again this morning:
Shame on the @NBA. This is what communist dictators do, not the U.S.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) October 9, 2019
Surprise! Gardner’s manufactured angst isn’t supported by recent developments. As Jerry Brewer writes for the Washington Post, the NBA actually did the right thing in this situation, albeit belatedly:
In less than a week, the NBA has been stunned, soft, clumsy and redemptive in addressing a tweet sent by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
After the league initially expressed regret about Morey’s actions and left the impression of an apology, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has clarified the league’s position and refused to back down amid increased pressure from the Chinese government and businesses to make an example of Morey.
On Tuesday, Silver made it very clear that the NBA will not restrict the speech of its employees even if that decision may harm its economic interests in China:
It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.
However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way. [Pols emphasis]
Now, here’s where Gardner’s faux outrage gets particularly disgusting. As CNN reported last week, “President Trump promised Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US would remain quiet on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong while trade talks continued.” In other words, Trump did EXACTLY what Gardner is mistakenly berating the NBA for doing. From CNN:
The remarkable pledge to the Chinese leader is a dramatic departure from decades of US support for human rights in China and shows just how eager Trump is to strike a deal with Beijing as the trade war weighs on the US economy. [Pols emphasis]
And like other calls with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Saudi Arabia, records of Trump’s call with Xi were moved to a highly-classified, codeword-protected system, greatly limiting the number of administration officials who were aware of the conversation.
Trump’s commitment to China had immediate and far-reaching effects throughout the US government as the President’s message was sent far and wide.
And what was Gardner’s response about President Trump’s direct promise to China to not talk about protests in Hong Kong?
That’s right, Sen. Cory Gardner hasn’t said a damn thing about President Trump’s pledge to prevent U.S. officials from commenting on Hong Kong protests in order to curry favor with China.
“This is what communist dictators do, not the U.S.,” said Gardner in his Tweet today about the NBA — conveniently ignoring the fact that this is exactly what President Trump did just a few months ago. Gardner even traveled to New York City last weekend to headline a Trump re-election fundraiser, knowing full well what Trump had said to China’s President.
Unbelievable? Not if you know anything about Cory Gardner.