Opinion: Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake stood on principle in his opposition to President Donald Trump. Now he stands alone.
In the so-what-else-is-new category, Sen. Jeff Flake announced over the weekend that he’s not going to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
Raise your hand if you were expecting Flake to self immolate?
Flake decided not to seek re-election this year because he knew he couldn’t win Arizona’s Republican primary. Of course, the fact the person who did, Martha McSally, couldn’t win the seat should be setting off alarms in GOPHQ, but I digress.
Flake is a traditional, libertarian-leaning conservative, a policy wonk who believes taxes should be low, spending should be cut, trade should be free and people should be decent.
Flake’s unpardonable sin
But he’s been wildly unpopular in Arizona Republican Party circles for most of his term, ever since he dared suggest that we reform the country’s immigration laws and not just brick up the border to the heavens.
Then came the unpardonable: he saw the self-absorbed emperor running around and actually had the nerve to mention the fact that the guy was buck naked.
As Trump’s bandwagon picked speed during the summer of the 2016 campaign, Flake was one of the few who refused to jump aboard. “I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” he famously said, when the two met.
In the end, Flake was one of the few left behind, clinging by his fingertips to his principles.
He has spent the last two years, agreeing with many of the president’s policies yet unable to stomach the president’s behavior.
“We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” he said last fall, in announcing that he would not seek re-election. “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or 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 all been elected to serve.”
Flake urged his fellow Republican leaders to put country before party. Now, Flake has no party – or at least no place in it.
While others went all bendy in order to fit onto Team Trump — see Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham, see Marco Rubio – Flake has stood rigid and resolute — and alone.
And soon, unemployed.
Someday, this nightmare will end
Flake says he won’t be the one to challenge Trump in 2020, but that someone should. “If nothing else to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative, what being a conservative really means, and what it means to be decent as well,” Flake said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Whoever that someone is will have to enjoy being roasted alive.
For now, to be relevant, a Republican must be unrelentingly Trump.
Unrelentingly with the president who on Sunday attacked the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Alan Schiff, by turning his name into a vulgarity.
So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2018
Someday, the party faithful will wake up from our present insanity and see this president for who and what he is. Someday, they will once again discern the difference between that which is true and that which is fake.
Someday, our national temper tantrum will be over.
Then maybe the Republican Party will take a second look at the guy who never went along to get along with a president who takes on any who dare to cross him, who makes our allies cringe and our nation reel, one tweet at a time.
Flake for president in 2020?
I would have liked to see that race.
Reach Roberts [email protected].
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