I briefly considered calling this post Republicans in Disarray. It has the virtue of counter punching against years of Democrats in Disarray type headlines. It’s also true. Then I came to my senses, stuck to my punny guns, and went with Flaking Out, which has the virtue of sounding like the Bravo reality teevee show, Flipping Out, featuring the antics of another Jeff, designer/house flipper Jeff Lewis. Of course, flipping out is what Donald Trump does whereas the junior senator from Arizona just flaked out on the people he should be leading into battle: Republicans who still have a semblance of common decency.
When historians ponder why members of his own party let the Insult Comedian get away with his shit, they’ll also wonder why his most prominent senatorial critics have punworthy names: Corker and Flake. I know I’m pondering it while trying not to be a ponderous pundit.
I’m somewhere in the middle on the Jeff Flake/Bob Corker question. Unlike some in the MSM, I don’t view either as “heroes” for standing up to a president* of their own party. I’m also not as hard on them as my publisher and others on the left, notably Rude Pundit and Charlie Pierce. I think it’s important for GOPers to call Trump on his shit regardless of their voting records. Remember: Trump does not care about substance so attacks on his persona and style, or lack thereof, are infinitely more wounding that attacking his shifting views on taxes, health care, and Bob Corker’s height or lack thereof.
Flake’s speech to the senate was excellent but it would have been more effective if he planned to run for re-election, especially as an independent. His colleague Lisa Murkowski did so after losing in the primary to a teabagger in 2010. The Alaska Senator isn’t as eloquent as Flake but she was rewarded for her stand against extremists in her own party. Grit and determination matter. Jeff Flake lacked those qualities in handing a temporary victory to Trump and Bannon.
In fairness, Flake looks like a gone pecan right now BUT there’s over a year to the 2018 general election and an anti-Trump conservative might look appealing to Arizona voters by then. If standing against Trumpism and white nationalism is as important to Flake as he says it is, he should be willing to stand for re-election against long odds. Now that’s heroic.
One significant difference between Flake and Corker is to the former’s credit. Flake refused to endorse Trump in 2016 whereas Corker drank the orange Kool-Aid and campaigned with the Insult Comedian. It’s one reason I’m more critical of the Tennessean than the Arizonan. I do, however, believe that converts to the anti-Trump cause should be welcomed. We need all the help we can get in alerting people to the perils of having a deranged president* with his tiny finger on the nuclear trigger.
The reason for my relative indulgence of dissident Republican is rooted in my formative political experience: Watergate. I know what you’re thinking, there he goes again. The reason Nixon was driven from office is that elected officials in his party turned against him. It was a slow process but it was devastating as the Republican dominoes tumbled; culminating in the Senate and House GOP leaders, Hugh Scott and John Rhodes, and 1964 nominee Barry Goldwater telling Tricky the jig was up in August, 1974. The latter two were Arizonans who showed courage in bucking a president who they owed politically. It should be easier to break with Trump but at this point in time Jeff Flake, who still opposes impeachment, is showing more profile than courage. He still has more balls than Trump’s chief enabler Speaker Ryan.
Unless more Congressional GOPers grow a pair, it will take a Democratic takeover of the House for an impeachment process to commence as I believe it should. Even if they lose their majority, Senate Republicans will be crucial to removing a corrupt, stupid, and deranged president* from office. The reason Bill Clinton survived impeachment is that he held Democrats whereas Nixon’s GOP support melted like an ice-cube in the Louisiana summer.
That’s why I look at the big picture and believe in encouraging Republican office holders when they break with Trump. The stakes are high: Trump shows signs of bumbling into war with both Iran and North Korea. The latter would be a catastrophe for our friends in the Republic of Korea and Japan. And war in the Middle East is folly as we’ve learned to our eternal regret.
Stop the madness.