A successful restaurateur once told me the danger of dishonestly complimenting a home cook for their prosaic skills is that they will sometimes, mistakenly, then open a restaurant.
You’ve been to these places. You order with an open mind just to reach the conclusion that the problem in the kitchen is that the owner or chef just can’t cook.
Everybody needs to be honest with former Gov. John Hickenlooper and his clear intent to jump into the Colorado Senate race with his recipe for success: Hick can’t cook.
He’s a nice guy who faithfully serves up his favorite dish, compromise. He recently tried to persuade America that his famous dish was responsible for a Colorado history that he tried to rewrite during his national audition for president.
The reality is that eight years of Gov. Hickenlooper’s famous compromise casserole was filling but not satisfying.
Start with the gun-control claims he made during his recent, nationally televised foray into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Hickenlooper claimed he marshaled two controversial gun control bills through the state Legislature in our “purple state.”
Like hell he did.
Those hard fought gun-control laws were paid for with the lives of 12 victims of the Aurora theater shooting. The bills were arduously muscled through the state Legislature by the sheer force and bravery of Democratic Aurora lawmakers like Rhonda Fields and Morgan Carroll, and many others.
Former Democratic Sen. John Morse said it best this week, talking about a man he likes.
“In 2013, (the Legislature) passed gun safety laws in spite of (Hickenlooper) NOT because of him,” Morse said in a tweet. Morse and others unfairly paid for those gun bills with their political lives after a bizarre recall attempt by some Colorado Springs-area extremists. By no means did Hickenlooper put his own political career on the line to save Morse and others.
Falsely claiming credit for Colorado gun-control bills wasn’t the only thing Hickenlooper tried to pull. On the Democratic primary debate stage, he said that the country needs someone like him as president — who was able to legalize marijuana.
Nope, he did not.
Hickenlooper was on the wrong side of the measure that let voters end the stupidity of marijuana prohibition in Colorado. I wouldn’t say he fought against it, because Hickenlooper never really seemed to muster the passion to fight against, or for, anything, he just opposed it.
For more than eight years as governor, Hickenlooper simply became an affable and well-meaning obstacle to moving ahead in Colorado or allowing far-right extremists to push Colorado backward.
Call it compromise if you want. It was eight years of restraint, which is the very definition of conservatism.
Not only was he a boat anchor on gun control, we had to wait for Hickenlooper to leave the building before Colorado could finally manage real compromise solutions to managing the state’s oil and gas industry. The state’s new Senate Bill 181, allowing for local control and a focus on public health, would never have made it into law under Hickenlooper. He opposed local control.
Hickenlooper “compromised” on the death penalty issue, granting a temporary reprieve for the execution of the Aurora Chuck E. Cheeses shooter. By not taking a solid position, he dumped the problem in the lap of Gov. Jared Polis.
His endless push for compromise did nothing to assuage far-right extremists in northeast Colorado. Insurrections and threats to secede from the state over modest gun laws, long-overdue gay rights and meager environmental protections prompted Hickenlooper to apologize in the face of their extortion. He apologized for the progress Colorado had made, saying that he and other state officials have done a poor job of hearing their concerns.
Oh we heard them. Everyone heard them. We just said we aren’t going to let them abuse gays, give anybody and everybody guns, and let the oil industry run roughshod across Colorado.
Well, Hickenlooper never said that.
For eight years, Hickenlooper left a long trail of tepid adequacy across Colorado.
He just keeps serving up one entree: compromise.
What he doesn’t get, however, is that a compromise with extremists is a loss for the righteous. Compromising with a drowning man ends up with a drowned man. He often gives away too much to get too little. And when the going gets tough, Hickenlooper gets out a casserole pan.
No matter what happens at the polls in 2020, the likes of senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Thom Tillis and Joni Ernst will still be there. If Democrats don’t win the Senate, Mitch McConnell will continue to run that chamber of horrors. Each and every one of those bullies would love to let Hickenlooper cook up one of his famous compromise casseroles.
There’s no doubt that Hickenlooper can beat GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, who suffers from terminal Trump sycophancy. But there’s a crowd of Democrats vying for the job because they know any of them can beat Gardner at the polls next year. There’s no shortage of smart, courageous, principled and valiant candidates champing at the bit to rid Colorado of Gardner once and for all.
Don’t make us all settle for six years of Hickenlooper’s compromise casserole. Democrats can pick something better.