Flake Out

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Trump Maladministration

Today’s big nooz:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will retire from the Senate at the end of his term, saying he was out of step with his party in the era of President Trump.  …

… In an unannounced Senate floor speech Tuesday announcing his retirement, Flake excoriated Trump without using his name.

“We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that is just the way things are now. If we simply become used to this condition . . . then heaven help us,” Flake said, his voice shaking. “Without fear of the consequences and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe, we must stop pretending that the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused as telling it like it is when it is actually reckless, outrageous and undignified.”

Flake was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and was up for re-election next year. Before that he served in the House, beginning 2001.

“It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we doing to do about that?,” Flake said. “When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say? I rise to say, enough.”

Flake said senators “must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal. With respect, we fooled ourselves long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. by now, we all know better than that.”  …

… “It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path” in the Republican Party, he said.

The speech got a standing ovation from those senators present. Responding with her usual graciousness, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Flake was being petty and was such a loser he wouldn’t have won re-election anyway.

Josh Marshall reminds us that Flake was a “very conservative Republican” who has been a reliable vote for Trump’s nonsense. Even so,

 I’m still pretty stunned by this turn of events. We know Trump is a bull in a china shop. We know that he’s creating cross-cutting tensions within the GOP that are hard to navigate. We know that everyone around President Trump gets damaged. But Flake giving up his seat just makes the impact of Trump, the electoral carnage palpable and visible in an entirely new way.

Jeff Flake is 54 years old. He served a dozen years in the House before running for the Senate in 2012, the first opening that came up while he was in Congress. Politicians don’t put in that time building a base and a political track to bail out of the Senate after one term. Basically not ever. Certainly not for someone like Jeff Flake.

No, sentimentality. But wow. The carnage and the stress and the destruction. There will be much more. Trump is poison. He arranges around himself, the worst and least principled sort of people. We’ll all be damaged more.

What’s up with Trump and Flake?  David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe wrote this in the Washington Post last August:

President Trump went on the offensive Thursday against two Republican senators, attacking them for their recent criticisms of his divisive governing style and response to the violence in Charlottesville.

In a morning tweetstorm, Trump lambasted Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), calling Graham “publicity-seeking” and Flake “toxic” and endorsing a primary challenger to Flake in his reelection bid next year. Flake recently published a book that was highly critical of Trump. …

Flake wrote in his book that Republicans abandoned their principles in the face of Trump’s unorthodox campaign and surrendered to the “politics of anger.” The party gave in to “the belief that riling up the base can make up for failed attempts to broaden the electorate,” Flake wrote in “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”“These are the spasms of a dying party.”

Even earlier, last May, Flake got into trouble with Trump by publicly doubting that the Republicans would have a viable replacement health care law to vote on before the August break, which certainly turned out to be true. Former Arizona state senator Kelli Ward criticized Flake for not being enough of an obsequious toady toward Trump, and she issued a primary challenge. Trump noisily endorsed Ward over Flake a few weeks ago.

Just to illustrate what sort of class act Ward is, after Sen. John McCain announced he had brain cancer, Ward publicly stated that McCain should resign at once, and by the way, she was available to fill his seat.

Ward is not winning hearts and minds.

A Republican super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday took a shot at former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), arguing that she will not be the Republican nominee in the wake of Sen. Jeff Flake‘s (R-Ariz.) decision to not run for reelection.

Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) has been critical of Ward, who had launched a primary challenge to the right of Flake and has the backing of pro-Trump outside group Great America Alliance. Flake sent shockwaves throughout the political world when he announced on Tuesday that he wouldn’t run for a second term in 2018.

“Sen. Jeff Flake will be remembered for a distinguished and impactful career in Congress, as well as his independent streak and genial manner,” Senate Leadership Fund president Steven Law said in a statement.

“The one political upshot of Sen. Flake’s decision today is that Steve Bannon’s hand-picked candidate, conspiracy-theorist Kelli Ward, will not be the Republican nominee for this Senate seat in 2018.”

Flake’s departure will likely open up the Republican field and now leaves a spot open for a candidate as an alternative to Ward.

Just yesterday, we learned that Ward may not be Trumpian enough, either.

This past April, two Breitbart alumni joined the campaign of Kelli Ward, an insurgent conservative preparing to challenge Republican Sen. Jeff Flake on a familiar Trump-style platform to “drain the swamp” and “Make America Great Again.”

Ward officially kicked off her campaign last week at an event attended by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham and Breitbart executive chair and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Later that same day, the two Breitbart writers, Jennifer Lawrence and Dustin Stockton, quit. After working on her campaign for more than six months, they had come to believe that Ward was not the true believer she claimed to be.

So, the Right isn’t just breaking up into pro- and anti-Trump factions; it is breaking up into varying degrees of Trumpism factions. And the senate race in Arizona next year is going to be right out of the Wild West.

Anyway, Flake will still be in the Senate until January 2019, which would be a good time to focus on his presidential nomination exploratory committee. (He wrote a book. That’s why senators write books; to run for POTUS.) His announcement today makes it possible for him to become a leader of the anti-Trump faction within the GOP. It also means he has no reason to kiss Trump’s ass, ever.

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10 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag out, replace him  •  Oct 24, 2017 @9:39 pm

    Sen. Flake is not running again.

    Emperor Flake (X 1,000,000,000,000+) – AKA: The Great Malignant Orange Melanoma – will not step down.
    He (It) WILL run again – if, IF, there’s still a country to be President (spit 3 X’s upon linking him to his position by calling him by his title ) of – unless he’s stopped by Congress (ROTFLMOA! Sometimes I even crack myself up!), or some of his (GRIFTING) Cabinet members and Congressional leaders, by using the 25th Amendment force him out of office (ROTFLMOA! DITTO!).

    The rest of the sociopathic/psychotic GOP sycophants will wait, and help, until the vast majority of the poor, the middle class, minorities, women, LGBTQ folks, non-Christians, etc., are well and truly fucked out of any money, social safety-net programs, and any say in government, due to voter suppression.
    And then they can take t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin out, replace him with Mike “The Dense” Pence, and blame the toxic shithole a country left behind on their prior Fuhrer.
    And then, Pence will run in 2020, 2024, 2028, etc., until he beats FDR’s record (they’ll change the predidential term limits Amendment), or he croaks – to be replaced by another Plutocratic Theocratic Facsist.

  2. Swami  •  Oct 24, 2017 @10:22 pm

    In keeping with the spirit of the Paul Masson Winery slogan of: We will sell no wine before its time. Sarah Huckabee will tell no lie before its time.

  3. Doug  •  Oct 25, 2017 @11:12 am

    IF Senator Flake is preparing a primary challenge against Trump, and if he’s backed by establishment conservatives, Trump will threaten to split the party by running as an Independent rather than accede to the will of the GOP majority. That would be the end of the GOP. I’m not saying it will happen, but it’s in keeping with Trump’s behavior.

  4. Swami  •  Oct 25, 2017 @1:12 pm

    I take Flake at his word. Of course there is always a possibility of an ulterior motive for political maneuvering, but by the context of his speech I believe he recognizes the damage being done to our democracy by those forces that have enabled the sickness of Trump to find footing and shelter in our democracy. And he’s found the courage to stand up and speak out. I hope he can inspire some of those other sniveling GOP patriots to consider the benefits of having a spine.
    What do we tell our children?

  5. Ed  •  Oct 25, 2017 @3:14 pm

    “That’s why senators write books; to run for POTUS” goes twice when the senator is from Arizona and the book is titled “Conscience of a Conservative”!

    Just to get ahead of tomorrow’s news, there will be information in the JFK files which will cast the CIA and the FBI in a poor light. Guess who has a vested interest in having this happen. I hereby predict that there will be a series of tweets to the effect that “Our so-called intelligence agencies blew it back then. Sad! Too bad they haven’t improved their game!”

  6. c u n d gulag out, replace him  •  Oct 25, 2017 @3:29 pm

    Doug,
    I’ll be surprised if if t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin-(FAT HEAD/BIG GUT/TINY BRAIN/NO SOUL OR COMPASSION) lives long enough to run in 2020.

    He’s one semi-major international or economic event – or, another major Russky revelation (boys + t-RUMP pee-pee tapes?) – from his 1 million-times-too-million-times-too-small heart from exploding like a raw egg in a microwave turned onto “high.”

    He will neither be missed, nor mourned.
    He will, however, leave a massive stinky “Christian” turd behind to continue his mission to destroy representative democracy in this nation – a once great (compared to most others), but very flawed one; and to its credit, a nation always aspiring to be better.
    Aspirational dreams will quickly fade to nothing, as the nation embraces Black/Brown-shirt, t-RUMPian Fascism.

  7. Swami  •  Oct 25, 2017 @7:30 pm

    Ben Carson On His Critics: ‘People Are So Stupid’
    Yeah, they are stupid. Some of them think that the Pyramids were built to be used as a granary.

  8. elkern  •  Oct 26, 2017 @9:10 am

    The “people” who destroyed any chance of civil discourse or centrist compromise in the US are Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.

    The “people” who benefited most from that were Jeff Flake and his ilk.

    Donald Trump is just the big (orange) Chicken that came home to roost. I have no sympathy for Flake and other “principled” Republicans.

    And Maha, great observation about Flake prepping for a Presidential run. I bet you’re right, and I dread the possibility. A true Conservative Republican President might be less embarrassing than Trump, but would probably be much worse in the long run because they would efficiently enact their destructive policies.

    The best thing we can do right now to prevent that is to spread the idea that Flake bowed out now to run for Pres in 2020.

  9. bernie  •  Oct 26, 2017 @11:50 am

    Pardon the lack of brevity.

    I mentally wrestle with some correct picture of the Republican party.  It is not a party of wings but of factions.  Polling shows it as white male dominated.  Christian affiliation (very broadly defined) is predictive of Republican party association.  At present four major groups maintain significant power within the organization of which three generally have names.  The most downtrodden of the lot is the moderate Republican.  Their identifying characteristic is an appearance of sanity and issue awareness.  They are capable of at least the illusion of civil discussion, and usually maintain some level of decorum.  Though not extinct, or even near extinction, they ride the whirlwind and dream of better days. The Conservatives see themselves on their path these days..

    Conservatism has peaked and is declining as Flake and some other notables have recently stated.  Here definition is required.  The term is here defined as separate from the Birchers, without a social Darwinian strain, and generally attached to literate discourse.  William F. Buckley is the historic role model with a multitude of modern disciples and prophets.  Most of these prophets are smart enough to know that the Republican party has had all it can take of them.  They expect members to read, think, and dominate the Republican party.  They also expect a hierarchy to anoint the top disciples and prophets.  Most now recognized that this is now hopeless, and at best they get a few back row seats.

    In the seats ahead of both are the Libertarians.  As their ideas appeal those with the political mentality of one fixed in the Junior High or Middle School level of cognitive and emotional development, they always have converts and adherents.
    In their political weaning ground, they have solid pockets of support, and prominent figures.  Their notions have appeal to rural America, where no one really has the need or time for any serious politics.  Oh yes, another predictor of Republican party affiliation I failed to mention is rural. 

    Finally we have the new emergent fourth faction.  Sarah Palin has been correctly named as the gateway politician to this faction.  It is empowered.  It’s prophets are the loudest and most belligerent person at he end of the bar.  It feeds on hate, tribalism, anti intellectualism, and raw primitive emotional remnants of human evolutionary history. Oh, and yes, it was created, fed and nurtured by the Republican party, and the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingram and the rest of the ilk. I think of 2001 A Space Odyssey but with a twist.  The emergent result was not a computer, but an out of control Gollum, Frankenstein, or other Horror which may have been fostered by Russian influence as a weapon of asymmetrical warfare.  For the moment at least, I optimistically think Flake  might see things though the same distorted glasses I use. I think you get my picture, which is temporary and subject to constant adjustment and correction.

  10. Swami  •  Oct 26, 2017 @6:05 pm

    Trump – “I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am”.
    What’s he channeling Yogi Berra?



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