Mike Littwin: Colorado GOP picks Ken Buck to make the case that the party is Trumpier than ever
Fair and Unbalanced
In response to its all-but-unprecedented disaster that was the last election cycle, the Colorado Republican Party has come up with a plan — to do the same thing all over again in 2020, only more so.
No, seriously. This is their plan.
It begins with Republicans choosing Ken Buck, a Donald Trump loyalist, as party chairman in order to loudly proclaim to Colorado voters that they are, in case anyone was confused, the proud party of Trump. It was, of course, at Trump’s feet — with or without bone spurs — that the 2018 disaster lay. But here’s a thought — maybe the real issue was that Colorado Republicans just weren’t Trumpy enough.
Buck is not only a loyalist. He’s the same Ken Buck who spent his Tuesday busily defending commentator Candace Owens as she testified before the House Judiciary Committee, accusing Democrats of fear mongering on hate crimes and white nationalism in order to win minority votes. Sound like anyone you know?
We all know George Santayana’s adage about those who cannot remember the past being condemned to repeat it. That doesn’t apply here. This past was 2018, last year. I remember, it was on all the calendars. I mean, how does a party forget losing every statewide race, both houses of the legislature, the governor’s seat, Mike Coffman’s seat, not to mention many of the recliner seats in houses across the Denver metro area?
Not only do Republicans remember, they want you to know they remember. Which is why they have chosen Buck, of all people, to lead the party out of the wilderness.
Forget Santayana. We’re in Marx (brothers?) territory now. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.
I understand how difficult it is for Republicans to run away from Trump, who does dominate the party. But whose fault is that? His party approval numbers can run as high as 90 percent, for which you can blame the spineless GOP politicians who have enabled him. Just ask the spine-free Cory Gardner, who in 2016 refused to vote for his party’s candidate because, he said, Trump was a “buffoon” and worse. Now Gardner has endorsed Trump, years in advance, because he’s scared witless not to endorse him.
And Colorado Republicans, who voted for Ted Cruz in 2016 as the party briefly proclaimed itself #neverTrumpers, are eager to back Trump. That’s why they chose Buck — who, it’s probably forgotten, once called Trump a “fraud” himself — despite the fact he already has a day job as a congressman from the 4th District. More to the point, they chose Buck to lead the way despite his questionable skills as a campaign strategist. Or maybe people also have forgotten his entirely winnable Senate race against Michael Bennet in 2010.
Come on, you have to remember that Buck’s closing argument in that race came while debating Bennet on “Meet the Press.” That’s when he compared gays to alcoholics. It was a typical Buck gaffe. He was already living down the “joke” about voters choosing him in the GOP primary that year against Jane Norton because he was the one who didn’t wear high heels.
But if you think that the unplugged version of Buck is yesterday’s news, it’s not just Candace Owens. Let me bring you up to date on your Buck references. It was just last week that Buck was questioning an LGBTQ witness during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill to amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as legally protected classes.
The witness testified that she had been denied treatment for her child by a pediatrician, who passed her off to a different doctor willing to do what any normal doctor would do, which was to give the kid a checkup.
And so, Buck asked this question:
“Um, is it your position that a Orthodox Jewish doctor … whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a, um, a Nazi patient?”
That’s right, it’s not gays as alcoholics anymore, it’s LGBTQ people who shouldn’t be a protected class against discrimination because … Nazis.
That’s the person who has been chosen to lead the Republican Party back to power in Colorado. I mean, it’s not only reprehensible to compare just about anyone to Nazis, but we shouldn’t forget here that the doctor is presumably not being asked to, you know, touch the, um, parent here. It’s the kid. The doctor refuses to treat the kid. I wonder what Hippocrates would have to say about that.
I can guess what Trump would say about it — that there are very fine people on both sides.
Look, you don’t have to be a genius to realize Trump has put Colorado Republicans in a bind, and that he tightens it daily. If he’s not firing nearly the entire leadership of the Department of Homeland Security for not being tough enough or willing to break a few laws — this, in the name of protecting us from desperate families seeking asylum at the border — he’s considering bringing back his plan to separate kids from their parents. I assume those cages are still available.
According to the last poll I saw, Trump was 13 points underwater in Colorado. The question now is not whether Trump, who lost by five points to Hillary Clinton in 2016, can win Colorado, but whether Colorado is even a swing state any more. National Republicans are, at best, skeptical. Who wouldn’t be?
The hot Republican plan in Colorado now is recalls, in a nod back to 2013, but the recallers have run into a few problems, like a pastor calling a legislator a “homosexual pervert.” And then there was the pair of anti-Semites involved for a time in the absurd bid to recall the governor.
OK, so there have been a few slip-ups. But Buck knows all about slip-ups. And yet, he is convinced that Republicans are set for a comeback.
“We will re-elect President Trump, we will re-elect Cory Gardner, we will retake our state legislature and we will hold our heads proud and high as Republicans,” he said at the Republican convention. “We will let the world know this is not a blue state — not on our watch.”
That could be a plan, I guess, if not for the indisputable fact that these were same folks who were on watch the last time out.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in the Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, he currently writes for ColoradoIndependent.com.
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