Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the most unpopular senators in the country, launched an astonishing attack on President Trump Monday in an article for liberal Politico, where he also accuses the Republican Party of being “in denial” about the president — all while promoting his new book.
In the piece, “My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump,” Flake accuses Trump of offering “oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions” but blames conservatives for his rise.
It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime
Flake argues that the GOP is in denial about the lack of “normalcy’ in the Trump White House, and Flake admits to having previously been in denial over Trump, before apparently seeing the light:
So as I layered in my defense mechanisms, I even found myself saying things like, “If I took the time to respond to every presidential tweet, there would be little time for anything else.” Given the volume and velocity of tweets from both the Trump campaign and then the White House, this was certainly true. But it was also a monumental dodge.
Flake hearkens back to a time when Democrats and Republicans were allegedly united by a bipartisan spirit and “felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president’s party.”
The piece, which is excerpted from Flake’s new book, Conscience of a Conservative (apparently deliberately borrowing from the title of a book by failed 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater), blames “the internet and our growing alienation from each other” as some of the reasons why that bipartisan spirit has been lost.
He then says the “Faustian bargain” that conservatives made by getting behind Trump is “not worth it.”
If by 2017 the conservative bargain was to go along for the very bumpy ride because with congressional hegemony and the White House we had the numbers to achieve some long-held policy goals—even as we put at risk our institutions and our values—then it was a very real question whether any such policy victories wouldn’t be Pyrrhic ones. If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?
Flake, who was nicknamed the “Sanctuary Senator” by primary opponent Dr. Kelli Ward for his soft stance on illegal immigration, then urges fellow Republicans to speak out if Trump “plays to the base” in what he says damages the “Republican Party’s ability to grow and speak to a larger audience.”
Flake’s argument is similar to that made by the infamous 2012 “autopsy report” after the election, in which Republican leaders decided it was time to cave on so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” in order to claw back the Latino vote.
He also calls for Republicans to stand up for institutions such as the Senate filibuster, which he claimed, “have served us well for more than two centuries.”
It is unclear how well Flake’s new title will sell. Flake has a favorability rating of only 37 percent in Arizona, making him one of the most unpopular senators in the country, and his thin 140 page book will set you back a painful $27.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY