Guest Columns

HUDSON: PARANOIA RUNS DEEP

Just because Dems really are out to get them, GOP-ers don’t have to be so paranoid

Contributing Columnist

For the second time in less than a month, a Republican legislator has expressed their suspicion that Colorado’s leaders are actively colluding with the White House for the express purpose of embarrassing them. It’s enough to make you break out your copy of Richard Hofstader’s famous 1963 essay, The Paranoid Style of American Politics. Of course, Hofstader didn’t argue that this tendency is only a Republican problem. In fact, the propensity for paranoia has proven an equal opportunity political pathology in recent decades.

It’s not difficult to find Democrats who suspect that corporate CEOs routinely assemble in secret conclaves to plot elaborate thefts from the middle class, and to better orchestrate coordinated and destructive assaults on the natural environment. There always seems to be a presumption that one’s political opponents possess Machiavellian skills that employ an uncanny strategic competence. As Hofstader points out, “What distinguishes the paranoid style is not… the absence of verifiable facts (though it is occasionally true that, in the extravagant passion for facts, the paranoid occasionally manufactures them), but rather the curious leap in imagination that is always made at some critical point in the recital of events.”

This past week Joint Budget Committee Chairwoman Cheri Gerou scheduled a hearing in the old Supreme Court Chambers at the Capitol for the purpose of grilling Metro State President Steve Jordan regarding the decision by his governing board to offer a preferential tuition rate to immigrant students who would be eligible for participation in the federal Dream Act or its Colorado equivalent, the ASSET bill, if either were ever to be approved. She and several of her GOP colleagues were anxious to flog both Metro and Jordan for their audacious usurpation of legislative authority. This Star Chamber proceeding was justified under the guise of a flimsy concern that this policy might negatively affect state budget outlays.

Gerou is a legislator whose self regard visibly swells behind a microphone. She launched her explanation of the hearing’s objective with a snarky remark about Jordan’s recent trip to Washington, D.C., by observing, “…I understand you visited with the President at the White House on Monday?” Jordan promptly corrected her by pointing out that the President was in Los Cabos attending the G-20 meeting, although he gave as good as he got by adding that he would have been delighted to have participated in such a meeting. Gerou was clearly knocked off balance, and stumbled ahead with a lame attempt to link Obama’s announcement the previous Friday that the Department of Homeland Security (INS) would no longer enforce the deportation of students who met the Dream Act criteria with Metro’s decision. It was obvious Gerou could not accept the possibility that Jordan’s visit to Washington was merely a coincidence.

In May, when the Governor called a special session of the legislature to reconsider civil unions legislation, House Speaker Frank McNulty leveled a similar charge. The President’s announcement of his personal support for gay marriage, prompted McNulty to charge that the special session was being politically orchestrated with the White House. When asked about the Speaker’s accusation, John Hickenlooper openly laughed. Let’s face it; no one is that clever — that prescient. You would have had to know beforehand that McNulty was going to kill the civil unions bill by bringing the legislative work of the House to a halt, taking several dozen other pieces of legislation down in the process.

I can’t help wondering how either of these dust-ups was expected to aid Mitt Romney’s chances in a crucial swing state. Polling indicates that both civil unions and Dream Act protections enjoy nearly two-thirds support among Colorado voters. Why pick these public brawls now? I can’t believe the Romney campaign is encouraging this squabbling. They just want to talk about the economy and jobs. Instead, they are getting “help” from Colorado Republicans in the form of nutball searches for coded orders from Washington masters to their Democratic minions in Denver. If there was any collusion on the immigrant student question it was likely the letter from Nancy McCallin and the Community College Board asking Attorney General John Suthers whether they could offer the same tuition deal as Metro State? The AG used their request, as cover to issue his opinion that Metro probably shouldn’t have acted without legislative authority.

Once President Jordan testified that his calculations had determined the new policy would actually generate increased revenue for Metro, Republican legislators were so unprepared that they offered no rebuttal and the steam from their indignation rapidly escaped the room as Gerou called the hearing to an abrupt close. She promised further hearings to expose the true character of this vast, left wing conspiracy. When you absolutely, positively know you’re right, you can discern the silent majority that agrees with you. That’s what Richard Nixon believed, and we know how it worked out for him. Stay tuned for further follies!

Miller Hudson, a columnist for The Colorado Statesman, is a former state representative and current public affairs consultant.