Caldara: Ex-Rep. Ken Buck leaves constituents without a voice in D.C., at worst possible time

By Jon Caldara | Complete Colorado

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, has called for a vote on funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. He has done so at sizable professional risk. His isolationist Republicans might remove him from his leadership position for it.

By the time you read this column, you’ll likely know how those votes went. As I write this, I have no idea. But I do know there’s one vote that could be wildly important, if only there were a representative to cast it.

With Ken Buck’s resignation well before his term ends, he has left the voters of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District without a voice in government, and at a remarkably critical time.

Not only is the future of Ukraine’s very existence at stake, but, again, so could be the leadership of the U.S. House. And collapse there could have a sizable impact on November’s elections nationwide.

Even given my very libertarian leanings, I understand providing for the common defense is a core, enumerated duty of the federal government.

I see a very big difference between supporting our allies with American dollars and goods versus with American blood. One I support. The other I’d fight.

Our president has given a very clear message to our foes around the globe. The United States will always back down, always be the first to flinch.

President Joe Biden said our withdrawal from Afghanistan would not be like the fall of Saigon, with people clamoring to grab onto a helicopter. He was right. Instead, they were fighting each other to grab on to the side of a plane.

He sent a signal of what U.S. commitment looks like. And Putin was watching.

While Biden’s words of encouragement for the people of Ukraine are occasionally stirring, he has doled out military supplies and technologies so miserly that Putin’s aggression, which could have been stopped had the Ukrainians had the right equipment, might well be victorious.

Ukraine was in a remarkably advantageous position to win this conflict if only they had the tanks and air superiority needed in the vital first months of the conflict. Biden refused to make that happen for fear Putin might escalate.

In case no one’s noticed, Putin is escalating. And Xi Jinping is watching.

Biden takes credit for the American-made air defenses that intercepted about 300 Iranian missiles headed toward Israel. Trying to convince Israel’s prime minister not to retaliate, he encouraged Benjamin Netanyahu to “just take the win.”

If someone shot at you 300 times but you were able to dodge them all, would you call that a win? And if you did, might it encourage the shooter?

As an example of the beautiful irony only history can provide, in the 1980s, Biden was one of the loudest voices against then-President Ronald Reagan’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, SDI, sometimes lampooned as “Star Wars.” Out of Reagan’s work toward a missile-defense shield, Israel has just been saved 300 times over, for Biden to take credit.

There are important and valid policy differences on foreign military aid. All I know is Colorado is down one important vote in Congress at a very critical time in history.

I suspect Buck left well before the end of his term so he could be more saleable as a commentator on CNN or MSNBC. They need the credibility of a hardcore conservative, which Ken is, but they’d only hire one who is willing to throw rocks at Donald Trump.

And what good would Buck be to a cable news show looking to take on Trump from the right if he could only join the team after the election. Thus, his market value as a talking head will be much higher as the presidential campaign heats up.

Of course, this is just my speculation. But Buck does make a very good talking head.

Sadly, America doesn’t need another talking head. At this precarious moment in a world of growing instability, it would be nice to have a representative working on behalf of 720,000 Coloradans.

A special election to fill the remainder of Buck’s term will be June 25.

Two months can be a long, long time as international tensions boil far from home and leadership voids create havoc here at home.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.