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Littwin: If Cory Gardner wants to show he’s serious about standing up to Trump , here’s his chance

As Senate Republicans prepare to introduce an unserious pandemic funding bill, Gardner should reprise his “unfathomable” take and demand a genuine bill. Anyone think that’ll happen?

I have some advice for Cory Gardner. Free of charge. I know, it’s not like he has ever asked me for political advice. Hell, it’s been years since he’s even returned a phone call.

But now that the fire-and-ice End Times are semi-officially here — Rob Witwer tweeted that we’re working our way through the Book of Revelations — anything is possible. 

So, here we go. If Gardner truly wants to declare his oft-cited-but-rarely-seen willingness to take on Donald Trump when he’s wrong (which would be, like, at least several times an hour), he’ll never have a better chance than the one he has today.

If he’s smart or bold — and I know boldness is not exactly a Gardner strong suit— he’ll slam Trump, Mitch McConnell, his party and whoever else is responsible for the failure to meet the needs of Coloradans and other Americans in the time of the great pandemic.

Mike Littwin

And he should keep slamming them day after day, refusing to go on the scheduled pre-election recess — Think of the movie sequel: Mr. Gardner Returns to Washington — until he has shamed his party into bringing a legitimate aid package to the negotiating table. Hey, I know this is an extreme longshot, but the recent Kentucky Derby winner, Authentic, came in at 9 to 1.

The snow will go away — it’s an October storm in September and it’ll be back in the 80s soon enough — and we can only hope that the snow will help with the fires, although the experts tell us not to get our hopes up. But the real danger lies not in Colorado — or even in other states like California where dangerous weather events are basically screaming the need for action on climate change —but in dysfunctional Washington, where End Times are an every-day proposition.

As Congress returns to, uh, action, or rather inaction, after Labor Day, they are apparently nowhere near coming up with a second round of pandemic relief that the parties can agree on. I don’t have to list the plagues being visited on us. Donald Trump wants children to go back to school, but without having delivered the money schools need to make the environment safe enough for many parents and teachers to trust. The unemployment bonus, which, economists tell us, was critical to protecting people during the economic downturn, is diminishing.

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Too many children don’t have enough to eat. Small businesses are closing. State and local governments are being forced to lay off people and, in some cases, delay pension funding. Testing is still spotty in many parts of the country, and Trump, of course, goes around not wearing a mask, even though he once said it was the patriotic thing to do. The MAGA folks apparently disagreed. There’s more. There’s a lot more, and, if you trust the experts (and you can’t tell the uncompromised experts without a scorecard), we’re in for a new round of COVID-19 in the fall, one that could be worse still.

In reply to these concerns, McConnell says he will introduce a scaled-back version of the bill — coming in at about $700 billion, which is less than the $1 trillion Republicans were offering before the latest recess — which Democrats have already said they will reject as not being nearly comprehensive enough. For one thing, Republicans refuse to include any money for states and localities which have lost so much expected funding during the pandemic. For another, it’s slimmed down, but still has a couple of poison pills in it.

Democrats say they are sticking with their $2.3 trillion package, down from more than $3 trillion. But it’s obvious that Democrats are willing to cut a great deal more. The Republican plan is not serious. It’s simply an attempt to shift the blame to Democrats in what you may have noticed is the home stretch of the 2020 election season.

READ: More columns by Mike Littwin.

Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic adviser, told Bloomberg last week that the administration is unconcerned if there’s no deal reached. “We can live with it — we can absolutely live with it,” he said. No mention, though, of how many Americans might not be able to live with it.

We all remember — because John Hickenlooper’s campaign ads keep reminding us — that Gardner said 112 days ago (but who’s counting?)  that it would be “unfathomable” for the Senate to go home without passing more pandemic relief. He needs to resurrect “unfathomable” and take it a few steps further. Time to name names and kick butt.

If, for a moment, we move from what would be the right thing ethically and morally to what would be the right thing politically, this would seem like a no-brainer for Gardner, who desperately needs to find at least one way to separate himself from Trump if he wants to be re-elected. Gardner had his chance on mail-in votes. While Gardner defended mail-in voting in Colorado, he took it no further. And if he had anything to say about Trump’s advice for Americans to vote twice, I haven’t seen it.

Here’s another. When Gardner was asked about the Atlantic article revealing, with, yes, anonymous sources that Trump has called fallen Americans “losers” and “suckers,” Gardner said he wasn’t going to comment on anonymous sources, even though a half dozen news outlets, including Fox, have confirmed the story, He said instead he would continue to “do what I have done the last six years,” which, he says, “is to work with President Obama and President Trump.

Ok, I did a spit take when I read that. I did a quick Google search on Gardner and Obama, and the first hit I got was this, from Obama’s last month in office: “Once again, President Obama has decided to take divisive, unilateral action rather than work with Congress. Today’s announcement makes it clear that he has little respect for the constitutional rights of gun-owning Americans, and even less respect for our constitutional system of government.” Does that sound like working with Obama?

Meanwhile Gardner has continued to have nothing to say about Trump’s racist fearmongering. In a Trumpian tweet from Tuesday: “Suburban voters are pouring into the Republican Party because of the violence in Democrat run cities and states. If Biden gets in, this violence is “coming to the Suburbs”, and FAST. You could say goodbye to your American Dream!”

It’s interesting to note that the violent crime rate has been steadily falling in America since 1991, but that’s a column for another day. For today, Gardner has said repeatedly that Colorado and the rest of the country need real relief. And yet, I bet he votes with Republicans on the unserious plan they’re putting forth in an attempt to show he’s at least doing something.

That would be a mistake, one that Hickenlooper could easily exploit. In fact, I’d almost go as far to say it would be an unfathomable mistake.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.


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