Endorsing Rep. Cory Gardner's campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado this fall, the editorial board of the Denver Post assured readers that Gardner was not the extremist Udall and Democrats depicted.
Lamenting Washington gridlock, the Post explained its decision to endorse Gardner by, essentially, promising Colorado voters that the Tea Partyer was a thoroughgoing cynic who wouldn't hesitate to abandon his past conservatism. His support for "personhood" legislation that would ban many forms of birth control? Why, the congressman now believed that birth control should be available over the counter -- a view to which he miraculously converted just as he launched his challenge to Udall. His past hard line on immigration policy -- a core concern of Colorado's sizable Latino population? That was all in the past. Gardner, the Post argued, had "expressed willingness to compromise" on the issue.
Aided by a credulous media, Gardner's ploy to convince Coloradans of his moderation worked. On Election Day, he defeated Udall by 2.5 points. So how's his aisle-crossing working out, now that he's poised to become a U.S. senator next month?
It turns out that maybe Gardner didn't really mean all that stuff about being warm and fuzzy and moderate. Sure, he did what he needed to do during the campaign -- voting against a bill, sponsored by Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, that would have blocked deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as youth. But today, Gardner lined up with Tea Party conservatives to support Florida Rep. Ted Yoho's bill to prevent President Obama from carrying out his executive order granting deportation reprieves to unauthorized immigrants with family ties and expanding the program that allows migrants brought to the country as youth to remain in the U.S.
What changed between this summer, when Blackburn introduced her bill, and today? Let me think here. Both bills were about preventing Obama from acting on immigration without congressional authorization. Same principle applies.
On the other hand, there was a major election, which witnessed a GOP tidal wave. Oh, right! And said wave wiped out Udall. Gardner won his race, and can resume voting like a wingnut. It's almost as if some of us warned about this happening.