When the left-leaning Denver Post shocked Colorado and the political world by endorsing Republican challenger Cory Gardner over Democrat incumbent Mark Udall in Colorado’s close race for US Senate, national Democrats were punched as silly as a victim of the knockout game.
“One of the worst endorsement decisions by any serious newspaper in my lifetime,” raged former Colorado Senator Gary Hart. “Naïve! What was the Denver Post thinking?” sputtered The New Republic. “Asinine,” intoned Salon, for good measure.
Liberals are enraged a liberal leaning paper endorsed a conservative challenger over a lackluster liberal incumbent. But expressing that would expose their long-requited sense of entitlement to favorable treatment by the media. Instead, they simply howled and vented at the Post’s vexing (to them) decision.
Actually, the Denver Post was clear and concise:
Congress is dysfunctional and broken. Udall isn’t much of a factor. His one-note war-on-women campaign, that spawned the moniker “Mark Uterus,” is an insult to political discourse and lays bare his lack of any accomplishment or record to run on.
In contrast, the Post noted, ABC News calls Cory Gardner a national “rising star.” The Post could have added that several pundits dubbed Gardner the best Republican candidate in the nation this year (Tom Cotton of Arkansas is also a contender).
As the Post cited, Gardner quickly became a leader each step on his path--in the Colorado legislature, in the US House, and now in working for creative solutions on energy, taxation, and immigration. Further, the Post observed, if Gardner’s election contributes to a GOP majority in the Senate, there’s a historic pattern of presidents of one party and a united Congress of another party working together more effectively than when the House and Senate are divided on partisan lines. That circumstance produces especially toxic partisan conflict, as the last four years attest.
Liberal outlets like New Republic and Salon didn’t rebut the Post’s personal assessment of the two men or of the likely congressional dynamics. Instead, liberal pundits presented a list of Udall’s liberal positions as obviously decisive, and expressed shock and awe that a left leaning paper couldn’t just follow the program.
But for pure conservative schadenfreude, nothing matches Hart’s rant at the Post. Long on angry assertion and short on substance, Hart appealed to authority—himself—to announce that Udall is a leader, maybe one of the nation’s best senators, and is in the middle of every important policy discussion.
Hart’s unqualified encomium—eulogy, almost-- lacked a thread of substance or illustration. If Udall is a workhorse not a show horse as the saying goes, Hart could have shared just one or two examples of his accomplishment or leadership--significant legislation, amendments, constructive hearings, creative policy proposals, influence within the Party, that sort of thing. Maybe Hart tried and couldn’t identify anything to hold up. In any event, there isn’t a single concrete, fact-checkable, falsifiable claim on Udall’s behalf. Just a lot of table pounding.
That’s understandable. Udall’s campaign hasn’t offered up any accomplishments, either.
Gary Hart has the intellect to make a persuasive case if there is one to be made. Instead, he just voted “Angry.” His defense unwittingly amounts to branding Udall merely as a popular member of a very exclusive club: The United States Senate. That is exactly the problem and was part of the Post’s rationale in giving the nod to Gardner. People are looking for change. Udall won’t deliver.
Hart’s lack of awareness approaches self-parody when he cites Udall—who votes 97% for the president’s agenda and stands arm in arm with Harry Reid’s unprecedentedly cynical perversion of Senate rules and civility—as a model of statesmanship, while dismissing Gardner as an unserious soldier of the Tea Party. (I wish Gardner were solid Tea Party). This is “I am rubber; you are glue” stuff. Gary Hart thinks Udall’s liberalism is self-evidently praiseworthy and Gardner’s conservatism is self-evidently mockable.
A truer assessment of Udall’s contribution to public policy comes from a more current leader of liberal politics, President Barack Obama. He told Al Sharpton on that loathsome figure’s radio show that the senate candidates who, like Udall, are afraid to be seen with him on the campaign trail, nevertheless are liberal stalwarts. They “are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress… These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me.”
There you have it. Mark Udall has been, and will be, a loyal soldier in Obama’s fundamental transformation. Cory Gardner will cheerfully push in a different direction. That’s what’s eating Gary Hart and company. To the surprise of many, the Denver Post is off the reservation on this endorsement and all of liberaldom can barely keep its latte in its nostrils.