A late-breaking story yesterday confirmed what everybody in Colorado politics knew from the beginning, but only one side of the aisle was politically able to admit–as the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, ex-President Donald Trump boasting to an Alabama radio show ahead of a rally there tonight that he “single-handedly” made the decision to relocate the U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado Springs to that state in the final days of his presidency:
In the final week of Trump’s presidency, the U.S. Air Force announced that Space Command’s headquarters would be relocated from Peterson Air Force Base to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.
Democratic and Republican officials in Colorado have opposed the move ever since and alleged it was Trump who did it. Huntsville is in the district of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican and staunch Trump ally who led attempts in January to stop the certification of President Joe Biden‘s victory over Trump in the 2020 election…
“Space Force — I sent to Alabama,” Trump said. “I hope you know that. (They) said they were looking for a home and I single-handedly said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama.’ They wanted it. I said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama. I love Alabama.’”
For those who have been getting this wrong like Trump, the U.S. Space Command is not the same entity as the U.S. Space Force. Space Command is a multi-service organization under the Department of Defense, while the Space Force is a separate branch of the military. But be assured, everyone in Colorado Springs where Space Command is currently located knew what Trump was talking about–and as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Tom Roeder reports, the anger in Colorado’s biggest conservative stronghold is palpable:
“We have maintained throughout the process that the permanent basing decision for U.S. Space Command was not made on merit. The admission by former President Trump that he ‘single-handedly’ directed the move to Huntsville, Alabama, supports our position,” [Colorado Springs Mayor John] Suthers said via email.
Even the area’s doggedly pro-Trump Rep. Doug Lamborn, who voted to challenge the 2020 election results in order to keep Trump in office, is slamming Trump openly:
Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn said Trump’s announcement shows national security wasn’t his top concern.
“When a decision is based on politics and personal preference, national security comes in second,” said Lamborn, [Pols emphasis] a longtime Trump supporter who broke with the president over the basing decision.
Lamborn’s affected surprise from learning that Trump made his decisions as President based on “politics and personal preference” is truly one of the most laughable “belated” realizations we’ve ever read. During Trump’s entire term in office, as Doug Lamborn and everyone else who lived through the last four years knows, personal loyalties and politics guided basically all of Trump’s decision-making. Gov. Jared Polis admitted to holding back his criticism of Trump’s disastrous mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to not jeopardize desperately needed aid to the state. Sen. Cory Gardner’s widely-mocked attempt to secure a small number of ventilators for Colorado after federal officials appropriated an order for many more is another example of cronyism poorly substituting for leadership.
And in their gushingly fulsome endorsement of Sen. Gardner’s re-election last year, the Colorado Springs Gazette’s editorial board even tried to spin Trump’s corrupt management style as an asset to Gardner–and by extension all of Colorado:
“I turned to the president and said, ‘If you want, while the governor is here, you can tell us the permanent home of Space Command is Colorado Springs.’ The president smiled and said, ‘We should talk about that,’ just as he walked into the Oval Office,” Gardner said.
Two days later, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett told Gardner that Space Command will remain in Colorado for at least the next six years. The decision almost guarantees it will remain permanently in the Springs, as no one can defend a scenario in which taxpayers fund six more years of investment into the new combat command only to start over somewhere else.
Because of Gardner, more than anyone else, Colorado will reap the economic and cultural rewards of hosting Space Command and Space Force for years — and likely generations — to come. Gardner has relentlessly advocated for Colorado with the president [Pols emphasis] and multiple Pentagon officials.
As we all know in Colorado now, Trump only rewards loyalty when it suits him. Despite their steadfast loyalty, once Gardner and Lamborn could do nothing more for Trump the largesse for Colorado was over. Trump’s inherently corrupt transactional leadership style meant that at some point, as Doug Lamborn bitterly laments today, “politics and personal preference” would inevitably win out over what’s right. Corruption wasn’t a bug. It was a feature of Trump’s leadership.
And until Colorado Republicans accept that, they’re making excuses for corruption they participated in–and complaining only because they ended up the losers.