Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the self-styled “conscience” of the conservative movement, trashed President Donald Trump in a speech to graduates at the Harvard Law School commencement on Wednesday.
“Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works,” Flake told the Harvard Law class of 2018. His address was widely covered by the mainstream media.
President Barack Obama famously graduated from Harvard Law School, and the faculty and student body are overwhelmingly liberal.
Notably, Flake did not criticize Obama once during his address, though Obama infamously, and often, flouted the Constitution during his eight years in office. As historian Victor David Hanson recently recalled:
While we understand those on the left refuse to believe that a constitutional “legal scholar” like Obama would even think of allowing the executive branch to go rogue, it is indeed strange that in almost every NeverTrump attack on Trump’s conduct, there is almost no recognition or indeed worry that we have been living through one of the great challenges to constitutional government in our history.
Does anyone remember that the Obama Administration allowed Lois Lerner (“Not a smidgen of corruption”) more or less to weaponize the IRS to help the Obama 2012 reelection effort? Does anyone remember Eric Holder’s surveillance of the Associated Press journalists and Fox News’s James Rosen? Why have conservative constitutionalists focused on what Trump has said rather than the strange treatment accorded to investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson by U.S. intelligence and investigatory agencies? Do we even remember the Benghazi pseudo-video narrative and the strange jailing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula?
Is there even curiosity about why and how the departing Obama Administration suddenly and vastly expanded the number of agencies that could have access to classified surveillance in its aftermath? Do we remember the more than 20 times Obama warned before reelection that he was not a “king” and, as a constitutional scholar, could not by fiat offer blanket amnesties? Do the authorities in California realize that they are resorting to the extralegal states-rights arguments that South Carolina on the eve of the Civil War and Alabama in the early 1960s used to nullify federal laws?
But stranger still is what we already know of the 2016 election, and the lack of outrage from constitutionalists, who daily warn us of what Trump might do—when we already know what the U.S. government has done in violation of civil rights, constitutional principles, and likely federal laws.
Flake decided last year not to run for re-election in 2018 after opinion polls in his home state of Arizona made clear that he had no chance of winning.
He is, however, said to be exploring a possible run for president in 2020, and recently spoke in New Hampshire to that effect.
He was a core member of the “Never Trump” movement, and recently compared Trump to Soviet communist tyrant Josef Stalin.
He published a book, Conscience of a Conservative, that copied the title of the famous 1960 book by his predecessor, Sen. Barry Goldwater.
Read Flake’s full address here.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.