As the Denver Post’s Jon Murray reports:
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that violence during recent nightly protests in Denver overshadowed demonstrators’ “righteous” message, but he rebuked calls by President Donald Trump and others to activate the military to put down civil unrest in cities across the country.
“This is not China. This is not Tiananmen Square. And that’s not leadership,” Polis said early in an afternoon briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. “That’s just creating more of the very division that we need to prevent and heal from and bridge. To create real systemic change, we all need to come together.”
Westword’s Michael Roberts:
In these introductory remarks, Polis didn’t specifically mention Trump, but later in his talk, he made it clear that the president’s assertions were at the top of his mind. He suspects that Trump’s threat about troops shows that he “has become so isolated in the White House, in the ivory tower, that he doesn’t understand what’s going on in our streets.” After lauding those who helped clean up after vandalism near the State Capitol, Polis stressed that “part of leadership is feeling and understanding the anguish and pain that so many Americans feel — Americans who believed we lived in a better America, one that had overcome many aspects of our legacy of racism stemming back to the days of slavery.”
As for Trump’s suggestion that governors unwilling to assert “dominance” over protesters show that they’re “weak,” Polis stated, “Even those who support his policies often question his careless use of words and rhetoric” — a habit that predates his tenure as president, he allowed.
Gov. Jared Polis has earned both praise and some criticism in recent months for avoiding direct confrontation with President Donald Trump, even in situations where it would be entirely reasonable and appropriate to do so. The reason for this is simple: angering Trump for any reason risks provoking his arbitrary and capricious wrath, and the possibility of real world consequences for the state from a governor failing to get along with this President during the emergencies plaguing the year 2020 makes challenging his daily verbal assaults on decency more trouble than the headlines would be worth.
In this case, however, Trump’s threat to use military force against American civilians is egregious enough that even Trump’s own Secretary of Defense Mark Esper came out against it in an interview last night. Such high-level dissent within Trump’s own White House appears to have given Gov. Polis latitude to let his real feelings show a bit.
Sen. Cory Gardner, on the other hand, can’t even show the backbone of Trump’s own Secretary of Defense.