One of the recurring themes we’ve come back to since Sen. Cory Gardner’s narrow election victory in 2014 has been an odd deference to Gardner from the nominally liberal Denver Post editorial board–the same editorial board who endorsed Gardner that year, pointedly blowing off concerns about Gardner’s well-documented dishonesty about abortion rights despite the paper’s own pro-choice editorial stance. More recently, the Post editorial board has incongruously defended Gardner on a host of issues in opposition to their own alleged position, including regarding the Republican legislative drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Until today–it appears that Sen. Gardner’s decision to have a group of disability rights protesters forcibly removed from his downtown Denver offices may have finally cost him one of his most unflappable cheerleaders. From an editorial published moments ago:
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner should have left protesters in his office Thursday until he got into town that night — regardless of the time his airplane’s wheels touched down — and met with them to discuss their fears that Republican cuts to Medicaid would also cut off life-supporting services.
Instead, the first-term Republican’s staff had the disabled protesters arrested and physically removed from his downtown Denver office Thursday night as he was headed into town for the congressional break.
The arrests were hard to watch.
We are ashamed. [Pols emphasis] This is a man who we have stood up for when he didn’t hold town hall meetings. We’ve given him the benefit of the doubt that he would fight for a better version of the Republican repeal of Obamacare, using his vote as leverage for a more moderate bill.
The Post makes a point not to condone the actions of the protesters, though they express sympathy with their reasons for taking action. But it’s remarkable how the Post is admitting in this editorial that they’ve carried water for Gardner–certainly not to the full extent we’ve witnessed, yet substantially more contrition in this regard than we would have ever expected. That indicates to us that their disappointment with Gardner is genuine–and that, at long last, Gardner’s indefatigable shine may be coming off.
The resentment of the Post on the left following their endorsement of Gardner in 2014 has proven much more lasting and damaging to the paper’s reputation than we would have predicted at the time: a rude shock to Democrats that shook their trust in the state’s newspaper of record at a fundamental level, and got worse as Gardner’s votes in the U.S. Senate bore out the left’s fears. Walking their years of deference to Gardner back won’t be easy, but we may well look back on today as the moment it finally started to happen.