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April 05, 2015 11:17 AM UTC

Gardner Goes Full-On Foreign Policy Fearmonger

  • by: Colorado Pols
Sen. Cory Gardner
Sen. Cory Gardner

Long a beet-red conservative Republican befitting beet-red Eastern Plains constituencies, Colorado’s junior Sen. Cory Gardner ran to the center to narrowly oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall last year. Gardner’s audacious repositioning as a centrist candidate was essential to avoiding the fate of Gardner’s successor in Congress, Ken Buck–who lost 2010’s Senate race against appointed incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by refusing to jettison his load of unsightly right-wing baggage.

Since taking office, Gardner has made a few votes that managed not to offend the sensibilities of voters who were lured by his centrist message, like voting with Democrats against to protect Wilderness Study Area public lands. But in the critical arena of foreign policy, Gardner misstepped badly when he joined 46 other Republican Senators in an ill-advised letter to the government of Iran attempting to undermine multinational negotiations to halt that nation’s nuclear weapons program. The widespread backlash over that letter surprised its signers, some of whom even admitted after the fact that it was a bad idea.

Scary Iran graphic via the internets.
Scary Iran graphic via the internets.

Last week, the long-awaited agreement between Iran and the so-called “P5+1” nations–the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, as well as diplomats representing the European Union as a whole–was finally announced. By most accounts, it’s a good deal. Nicholas Burns, a former Undersecretary of State for George W. Bush, calls it “a sensible step forward for Iran and the west.”

Ten years in the making, the framework nuclear deal announced on Thursday in Lausanne makes it reasonable to hope that a final written pact can be hammered out by the summer, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…

Speaking at the White House, Mr Obama set the bar high. Iran’s once flourishing uranium enrichment industry would be subject to strict limits at every stage, closing Iran’s path to a bomb. Another route, to a plutonium bomb, would be blocked by dismantling the core of the heavy water reactor at Arak. Iran’s commitments would be policed by intrusive international inspections, and many of the sanctions that have degraded its economy would be lifted only if Tehran complies at every step.

There’s a pretty good case to be made that Cory Gardner squandered his credibility on Iran when he signed a letter attempting to directly interfere with these critical multinational negotiations. There was no official statement from Gardner in the immediate aftermath of the announcement Thursday of the deal, but in today’s Denver Post, Gardner has a guest opinion column on the subject. It’s striking to us that Gardner makes no mention of the controversial letter to Iran’s government he signed, but the over-the-top xenophobic rhetoric in this op-ed takes the questions about Gardner’s foreign policy credentials to a new level either way:

The administration has attempted to present the American people with a choice: either war with Iran, or a bad deal that does little to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This is a false choice, and should be rejected. This framework, based on details released thus far, appears to leave vast portions of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact, remove all sanctions on Iran, and give the mullahs a get-out-of-jail-free-card to build all the nuclear weapons they want in as few as 10 years. Fearing that Congress would rightfully reject such a terrifying deal, the administration has preferred to take its case to the unelected bureaucrats of the United Nations, instead of the elected representatives of the American people.

There’s no nice way to say this: Gardner’s description of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 coalition, basically the most powerful nations in the world including the United States, is so far from accurate it’s grossly irresponsible. For one thing, the relaxation of economic sanctions on Iran is based on Iran’s compliance with the agreement. There’s no giveaways to Iran here, what they get is based on their actions to stop developing nuclear weapons. But above all, what this amounts to is Gardner vilifying President Barack Obama as a proxy for the rest of the world: France, the United Kingdom, Germany–and yes, Russia and China too. Are we really supposed to believe that all these other nations want Iran to get the bomb? It must take an awful lot of blind Obama hatred to buy the case Gardner is making–and that’s before he invokes the dreaded blue helmets of the United Nations.

Al of this is further confirmation of what the Iran letter controversy already indicated: on foreign policy, an issue Sen. Gardner has a major role in as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bush-league fearmongering is our new Senator’s stock and trade. That’s a profound disappointment for any of you still hoping for “A Different Kind of Republican™.”


26 thoughts on “Gardner Goes Full-On Foreign Policy Fearmonger

  1. Gardner is a liar. Call him that. Call out the the lies. Explain the foreign policy experts who say this is a good deal and why. Call out the failures of the Bush Administration. Bennet should do the same. God Damn, these guys lie every fucking day and you’re still trying to be polite and sociable. 

  2. Gardner was never a “different kind of Republican.”  That was just his marketing … and it was designed for people that didn’t look beyond the sales job.

    Sadly, it worked.  It is probably continuing to work.  

    This editorial is more posing and packaging – presenting Gardner as being a maturing senator and rising foreign policy expert.   The reality is that Gardner is just spewing a collection of ghostwritten talking points that the GOP has been crowd-testing for the last several weeks.  

    1. Most voters are lazy and ignorant. Most don’t look beyond the sales pitch. Most right now today, couldn’t tell you who their Senators are. Udall’s ops were lousy at creating a winning sales strategy. Gardner’s did a better job. That’s all that’s going to count for the foreseeable future so Dems can either wise up or we can look forward to more Cory Gardners. Not so much unfortunate as just the way it works and everybody should know it.

      1. You forgot “stupid”, B.C. That’s my take. Modern Republicans are by and large, Lazy, Ignorant and Stupid. They don’t know and they lack the motivation to find out. So they vote with no knowledge of the candidates’ positions or how those positions might affect world affairs, making it easy for the Cory Gardners of the political world to sucker them over and over.

        1. It’s not just Republicans. Most Americans, period, are politically lazy and ignorant.  Try canvassing some time. It’s pretty depressing, even when you’re working from lists of Ds and Us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered  registered voters, including registered Dems, who don’t know who their Congress person is even though the record shows that they voted in the last election. It’s pretty pathetic.

    2. Gardner is guaranteed a one-termer. Every Coloradan will boot his sorry ass out the minute the polls are open in ’20. 

      In the meantime, he’s to be regarded as the mistake of Colorado.

      And he is to be permanently ignored once Democratic Party retakes the Senate, and assign him to a completely difficult committee assignment that irritates him so much when the staffers asks him 24/7 questions about the assignment he’s supposed to do that he quits in ’17 instead of  ’20.

      1. If you meant “wistful” I’m in.

        i get that the middle voters voted against Obama. I also get that even though most voters are pro-choice, they don’t believe there is a serious possibility of personhood or any meaningful choice restriction passing into law.

        what I don’t get is voters who will elect a Senator like Gardner, who no one believed was anything like the bipartisan centrist he ran as, and then re-elect him.  He’ll have big turnout next time, and maybe he’ll be Secretary of something and won’t want to run again. 

        1. The only thing to “get” is that most potential voters don’t know a thing about the Senators or Reps they already have or the candidates running for those spots in any given election. They know what they see in the ads they’re hit with. If Gardner’s are as appealing and his Dem opponent’s as unappealing next election as they were in 2014 he’ll be reelected as long as he doesn’t create a super juicy negative scandal. That’s the only thing most are interested in where pols are concerned. Being accused of an ax murder or running a sex slave prostitution ring would break through the lack of interest and affect his chances. Short of that…meh. 

          1. Gardner will be embroiled in a major scandal in the future which will kill his candidacy and become a one-termer.Colorado should be sick of him – I am already and ready to nominate Morgan Carroll of Denver to challenge Gardner.

  3. Gardner’s grandstanding is no surprise to me. He’s just a stooge.  The guy I don’t understand is Michael Bennet.  Why is he signed on as a co-sponsor of Corker’s Senate bill that threatens to undermine the President’s deal on Iran?  Is he trying to look “bipartisan”?  Does he think that by doing it, he’s going to improve his chances for reelection next year?  At the rate he’s going, when you couple Corker’s bill with Bennet’s vote on Keystone XL, he’s more likely to end up like his pal, Mark Udall, next year.

    1. A challenger from the left should kick Bennet’s arse, ROYALLY.I still don’t support him as he was a Ritter pick, and won his re-election over Romanoff – which I am still steaming about.

    2.  Bennet is just another of those triangulating, both-ends-against-the-middle Democrat-ish types I’ve grown so thoroughly tired of in recent years. “Don’t be mad at me! Don’t toss me out! I’m not that much of a Democrat! See? I can vote with the Right.” Yeesh.

  4. Here’s Politico’s Kyle Cheney ranking Senate races for 2016. He ranks Colorado as #7, in  states likely to switch parties in 2016 Senate wins. Apparently, he considers Bennet vulnerable, although he says nothing about how Bennet has pissed off the Democratic base with his pandering Keystone and Iran votes. When that’s factored in, Bennet will face a profound lack of enthusiasm from Democratic voters.

    If only we had a better choice…..

      1. There’s nothing that Obama could appoint Bennet to that would be even remotely interesting to Bennet, especially since Obama is leaving office in 21 months and Jeb, or Hillary, or Walker, or Rand will simply let Bennet go when he or she assumes office. (And if it’s Hillary, she would probably replace Bennet in his appointed position with Romanoff just to even the score for the 2010 Dem Senate primary! For the Clintons, like the Klingons, revenge is a dish best served up cold!)

        Bennet just posted $2 million take in the first quarter of ’15. I’m an agnostic when it comes to Bennet.  I voted for Romo in the primary in Aug. ’10, but that was mainly because I know and like Andrew, and I thought he would make an excellent senator.  While Bennet has taken positions I’m not too pleased with (Keystone, especially on the veto override vote, being one such issue), I know that politics involves makes choices between lousy options, and those choices usually sink to the level of picking the lesser of two evils.  Put a better alternative in the field and I will seriously consider voting for him or her.

        To my friends on the left who keep bitching about Bennet being a DINO, and Bennet being this and Bennet being that, now is the time to put up an alternatve candidate or shut up. Because if anyone is serious about challenging him, they need to start raising the money yesterday.

        1. As a realist, I know that Bennet won’t be appointed to anything to clear the way for Hick to appoint a stronger potential 2016 contender. He’s also not going to have a viable primary opponent. I am concerned, though, that with his lack of name rec in the general public and the lack of enthusiasm for him from the base there’s the distinct possibility that he could be knocked off Udall style in 2016. Yes it’s a presidential year which should be better for Dems in general but the increased turn out will be largely among demos that have no particular reason to be excited about Bennet and the even lower than usual info voters (and that’s really low) who only vote in presidential years.

          Those could very easily go for a candidate like, say, Coffman. Especially apolitical ones who vote for the Dem for president and don’t like to vote a straight party ticket. Pretty much all they’d know about him is that he’s a vet and all they’d learn about him would be from ads prominently featuring Coffman fighting to get that new hospital built to serve our heroes. Low info Colorado voters will love that. Or even just a slick, smiley Cory Gardner type. No matter how the election shakes out nationwide it would be very depressing to have two R Senators representing Colorado.

          I think the inclusion of Bennet high on Politicos’ list of vulnerable incumbents is a reasonable assessment and he’d better start raising his profile on some of the issues that are dear to the base that also poll well among the general public. There’s a bunch of them. His team needs to get out front with a popular, positive message, something team Udall utterly failed to do, to avoid a repeat of 2014.

    1. I got a message from Bennett’s campaign this morning asking to support his campaign, i.e. money.  I don’t plan to give him any money.  He might be slightly better than a Republican but he’s half Republican anyway so there is not a heck of allot of difference.  I’ll vote for the Dem. on the ticket but not with allot of enthusiasm.

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