Flake News…. Republican Jeff Flake, announcing his retirement from the Senate, declares “I will not be complicit”

While I certainly respect and appreciate what Arizona Senator Jeff Flake had to say this afternoon about Donald Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior,” and the need for members of Congress to stand up against him, I think it would have carried significantly more weight had he said it several months ago. Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior,” after all, isn’t exactly new. What is new, however, is the fact that Flake, even though he’s voted with the President 90% of the time, has become virtually unelectable in the deep red state of Arizona over the past several months, which is why he’s suddenly become more vocal.

Wanting the best of both worlds, Flake attempted to walk a very fine line, supporting the Trump agenda, while, at the same time, trying to make it clear that he detested the man himself. But it just wasn’t tenable. Once Flake released his book, Conscience of a Conservative, in which he said that Republicans “must condemn” Trump’s race-baiting, fear-mongering populism, it was pretty much ‘game over’ for the junior Senator. Trump not only called him a “toxic” “non-factor in the Senate” who was “weak on borders (and) crime”, but he actually traveled to Arizona and publicly endorsed a primary challenger against Flake.

So, now that it’s become clear to Flake that he has no path to victory in his fast-approaching reelection primary, he’s apparently decided to take things to the next level… Here, for those of you who may have missed it, is an excerpt from his speech on the floor of the Senate earlier today.

As it’s long, I won’t share the entire transcript, but here’s how Flake began his speech.

At a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than by our own values and principles, let me begin by noting the somewhat obvious point that these offices that we hold are not ours indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office and there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.

It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion. Regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership.

Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end. In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order, that phrase being the new normal.

But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set up at the top. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.

The reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve. None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that that is just the way things are now.

If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that it is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.

And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness. It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?’ What are we going to say?

Mr. President, I rise today to say: enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it…

So, just to be clear, it’s not that Trump is seeking to take away our health care, accelerate the transfer of wealth away from the American people and into the hands of the super-rich, and eliminate protections for the most vulnerable among us… it’s that he’s doing in in a manner that Flake finds personally distasteful.

Still, though, it’s encouraging see people like Flake, and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who has also recently found himself at the end of his political career for trying to retain his soul in the age of Trump, beginning to push against the President a little harder. Granted, it’s not nearly enough, but it’s a step in the right direction. The question is, how far are they willing to go? Are they, as someone suggested earlier today, willing to actually change their party affiliations and shift the balance of power in the Senate? It’s one thing to take jabs at Trump, as McCain, Flake and Corker have all done, but it’s another to actually go for the jugular, which they now have it within their power to do.

Right now, in the Senate, we have 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independent that caucus with the Democrats. If Flake, Corker and McCain all declared as Independents and caucused with the Democrats, that would take leadership in the Senate immediately away from Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, and give it to Chuck Schumer and the Democrats, who could then aggressively move against Trump.

Flake, of course, won’t likely do that, as he seems to be weighing a 2020 presidential bid… But it feels as though we’re creeping closer to something, like the dominos are beginning to line up, so they’re ready to start falling at the very moment someone of integrity jumps forward to make the first move. Of course, the powers of darkness are lining up too, as Trump is beginning to remake the Congress in his image, turning away from establishment Republicans in favor of right-wing theocrats and nut-jobs like Roy Moore… The following is from Politico.

President Donald Trump is squeezing out his enemies in the Republican Party — diminishing the power of the GOP establishment and reshaping his party in his own image.

With the looming exits of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, come 2019 Trump will have rid himself of his two most outspoken Republican detractors. What happens in the meantime — Corker and Flake demonstrated Tuesday they are fully emboldened now to take on the president without fear of consequences — could determine the success or failure of the GOP-controlled Congress through the 2018 midterms.

….The White House is already taking steps to ensure that a more Trump-friendly candidate takes Flake’s place. On Tuesday afternoon, the administration got in touch with Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a Trump stalwart who was an official on the 2016 campaign, to discuss the race, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

With Flake and Corker on their way out, Trump’s closest allies are expanding their effort to oust other mainstream GOP lawmakers. Bannon and David Bossie, the president’s deputy campaign manager in 2016, are lining up insurgent challengers across the country. And they’re receiving financial backing from hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, one of Trump’s biggest donors…

The big question is, will individual Republicans in Congress ever come to realize that it’s just a matter of time before they too, like Flake and Corker, find themselves pushed from a party that’s becoming increasingly more diseased? And, if so, will they have the courage to stand up and fight against the insanity. Personally, I have little faith, having watched them over the past decade, actively participating in the devolution American politics that brought us to this point, but I suppose there’s aways a chance that they could do the right thing. As a great American once said… “You gotta have hope. Without hope, life is meaningless“.

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12 Comments

  1. EOS
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Trump promised to drain the swamp and this is evidence of him fulfilling his campaign promises. Flake is unelectable. I’ve never heard of a single accomplishment that he had in the Senate. Whoever wins the Republican primary will be our next Senator. And McCain won’t be there for long either.

    The tide is turning and it certainly isn’t in the direction of Democrats. Clinton, Podesta, Comey, Lynch, Holder and Obama went too far and the blowback of their taking bribes/or approving the acceptance of bribes will last for a number of years.

  2. Alicia Farmer
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Don’t you just figure he’s going to run for president in 2020 and is staking his stance now? He’ll be looking like a genius by the time Trump implodes taking the current contenders with him.

  3. Meta
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    An interesting take from the Business Insider.

    A look at the non-helpless anti-Trump senators gives a clue about why Flake can’t seem to do anything about the things he cares about.

    Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have broken extensively with Trump to much greater effect than Flake. Their defections have worked because their formulation of personal decency plus policy moderation is saleable to a large slice of the electorate.

    Winning an election from their part of the political spectrum involves running up the middle, which is a little more complicated than being a normal, ideological party nominee. But Murkowski has figured out how to make it work in Alaska, and Collins could probably be reelected as an independent if Maine Republicans didn’t want to nominate her anymore.

    Collins and Murkowski are able to be a lot more soft-spoken than Flake; their anti-Trump actions have done most of the talking. They’ve had a lot of effect on policy in Trump’s America. And they don’t seem to intend to leave the Senate anytime soon.

    Flake should wonder: Why am I so unpopular? Why am I so powerless? Why have most of the people who I thought agreed with me rejected me in favor of this unconservative, amoral buffoon? Why don’t I have the quiet power Lisa Murkowski has?

    The answer is that Murkowski’s politics have a constituency and his don’t.

    Flake should consider that ideas with no natural constituency might be bad ideas. If “traditional Republicans” could only ever be elected by people who didn’t care about their animating ideals, people who could be tempted to support a man like Trump, maybe those ideals were never any good to begin with.

    And maybe the willingness of Republican voters to choose a president of such poor character and temperament suggests those voters have always had poor judgment — including when they elected Jeff Flake.

    Read more:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-flake-retiring-reelection-trump-implications-2017-10

  4. EOS
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Flake is an incumbent Senator who can’t even get re-elected in his home state. That’s pretty dismal in a culture where more than 90% of incumbents get routinely re-elected. He has no chance in a Presidential election. When Trump gets his tax cut package passed, the economy will take off, and he will have a lock on four more years. All of Trump’s policies are aligned with the Republican platform. Those who oppose his agenda are RINOs and globalists. Good riddance Flake and McCain – and take your buddy Graham with you.

  5. Demetrius
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate and admire what Flake, McCain, Corker and others have said, and what they seem to be trying to do. I also appreciate Senators Murkowski and Collins for their quieter, but equally principled stands.

    That said, I find it hard to imagine that too many more remaining, “mainstream” Republicans are going to follow suit. Unfortunately, it seems that as long as corporate deregulation, along with massive tax cuts for businesses and wealthy individuals are still even a remote possibility – most will grit their teeth and continue supporting Trump, no matter how crazy he behaves, or how dangerous his behaviour becomes.

    Meanwhile – why aren’t Democrats doing more to call this administration to task (legally, morally, and in the court of public opinion), and why aren’t they working harder to present voters with a genuinely appealing alternative vision?

    I get the feeling these days that much of the Democratic leadership is content to stay on the sidelines watching the slow-motion Republican train-wreck, hoping it will result in big electoral gains for them in 2018. Perhaps that will happen … but in the meantime, very real damage is being done to citizens, communities, our nation, our democracy, and the rule of law. If we’re going to talk about “complicity” I think there’s plenty to go around …

  6. EOS
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Maybe because the Democrats, legally, morally, and in the court of public opinion, are far worse than having to put up with a President who makes an occasional improper tweet while he is rebuilding our military, correcting previous foreign policy mistakes, and stemming thee tide of illegal immigration.

  7. Lynne
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I just keep hoping liberals will learn to vote and will realize the futility of voting third party but I am not holding my breath

  8. Bob
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I keep hoping that the Democratic party will realize the futility in alienating liberals and quit trying to move the party farther away from its core principles. Based on the recent actions of Tom Perez, I’m not holding my breath.

  9. FROM CNN
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    SOME REPUBLICAN SENATORS JUST DON’T GIVE A DAMN

    From CNN:

    Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) on Tuesday defended his handling of President Trump, saying it is the job of news media to hold the president accountable for being truthful in what he says.

    “When he lies about something and you know it’s a lie, shouldn’t you speak up?” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked.

    “That’s your job,” the GOP senator responded.

  10. Lynne
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Now is the time to get to involved if you want to have a say on the direction the party is going to take.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    The Dem Party and the GOP have one thing for sure in common: There is a growing rift between Isolationist/Protectionist and Globalist factions. Bannon is right on that. A populist uprising is taking hold– and with good reason. Unfortunately populist movements energize themselves with hatred of those in power, groups of people, foreign countries and foreign workers. I’m not denying the pitfalls of globalism and global capital here… that;s pretty fucking obvious these days. I just don’t buy the solutions the populists, left or right, are offering. I definitely don’t think peddling the fantasy of the return to the good old days of US manufacturing is useful or even appealing. I grew up around steel and coal workers and sewing factories. That’s some shitty fucking work. Those workers became disabled by 55.

    At any rate I think a Dem party with a mix of globalists and populists is ideal. I’m interested in centering the concerns of workers and the marginalized. I’m not interested in peddling a fantasy of global peace through isolationism or working class well being through protectionism.

    It would be cool if we could talk about this basic political philosophical divide in both parties, without assuming the other side has ill intent, or that democracy is winner takes all kind of process.

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Just as a reminder that there is stuff we Dems/Leftists can all get behind besides abhorring open racism, this happened in the middle of the night: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/10/25/senate-votes-overturn-rule-consumers-suing-banks/797728001/

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