Jeff Flake's in Denial about Jeff Flake
There’s two competing visions of the Republican Party. One is Trumpian and the other is Flakeian. As in the Arizona senator, Jeff Flake. One or the other will prevail in the fight for the GOP. The nation’s future hinges, in large part, on which side wins.
Throughout the Obama years, Senator Flake and Flakeians took the high ground. No mud wrestling with the president. Flakeians, apparently, are Olympians. Earthly affairs are grubby. Mortals are too flawed and dumb to understand the world’s complexities – too petty, too quarrelsome.
Wrote Flake last Monday for Politico:
Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process? With hindsight, it is clear that we all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump.
Flake, the conservative purebred, has arrived -- by DC standards. He sees nothing but shades of gray. The masses were spoon-fed “oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions” by Trump, who, at least, kept tens of millions of chimpanzee-like voters amused. Had the sophisticates in both parties done better at herding the rabble, no distressing Trump presidency.
Hillary has no corner on condescension.
Trumpians are tough, roll up-your-sleeves, get-it-done folk. They’re long sick and tired of the collusion. Not the faux Russian collusion, but the very real Washington collusion -- between Democrats and Republicans. The GOP went all pigs-at-the-trough in the 2000s. All the while government ballooned, red tape tangled the nation more, debts mounted, illegals poured in, and basic liberties were challenged. The nation’s mores and culture slid deeper into the latrine.
Republicans did a superb job yielding -- or just giving away -- ground in inches and yards to Obama and Democrats, while winking and telling voters that it was about keeping their powder dry. At the right time -- Bang! Pow! -- the GOP would come out fightin’. Democrat black-hats would get it good.
Fightin’ congressional Republicans’ DC consultants advised that there was no upside to being a genuine opposition party. Some theater was okay; in fact, necessary. Vote against ObamaCare routinely. But don’t act seriously to derail ObamaCare. Focus groups and surveys showed the GOP couldn’t win a fight with Obama. So just fake it to pacify base voters.
With an enthusiastic president and congressional majorities, Republicans still aren’t repealing and replacing. Imagine that?
Flake has a book on the market, which was the underlying point of the Politico article: to pimp it. The book is entitled the Conscience of a Conservative. Flake’s bleating could be called the “Conscience of a Constipated Conservative,” but that would mislead. Read through the article -- which is the pith of the book. Flake isn’t constipated; he’s gone native -- that’s DC. Too much yucking it up with Ryan, McConnell, McCain, Graham, and Morning Joe. He’s in the establishment tank -- and fully invested.
Flake and his ilk disdain the hurly-burly of politics. Trump and Trumpians are ruffians and “nativists,” close-minded and bigoted. Lo, the muddy-boots crowd on the right indulges in crude politics. They aimed to make Barack Obama a one-termer! They want a Wall and an end to illegals entering. That’s so un-U.S. Chamber cheap labor like.
Contend Flakeians: to succeed, real conservatives need to champion showroom conservatism… a bright showroom, where the Conservativemobile’s spiffy paint job beckons in the dark nights of humanity’s dreary existence. Persuaded of conservatism’s virtue without even kicking the tires, the masses will swell the GOP’s Big Showroom to bursting.
Flake pretty much gives Obama a pass in the nasty, seedy politics department. Trump is the true culprit in Flake’s worldview. Trump, who’s getting it done through executive actions and prerogatives, along with some legislation passed by constipated Republicans.
Trump the disruptor, and his millions of muddy-booted supporters, are kicking down doors in DC, demanding more than Kabuki theater, and fighting to move an agenda that looks suspiciously conservative. Their car ain’t showroom. It’s banged up and scratched up, but it’s in drive and moving ahead. Maybe in fits and starts, but pushing up the road for repeal and replace, VA reform, Kate’s Law, sweeping tax cuts, a strong military, a robust economy, for keeping terrorists out, for building the Wall. Pushing up the road, despite the bricks flying at it, the landmines laid, the barricades thrown up, time and again. Pushing ahead to redeem the promises made by the likes of Flake for years.
Flake quotes Mike Gerson:
…a conservative columnist and former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote, four months into the new presidency, “The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and conservative institutions “with the blessings of a president … have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.”
We won’t label Flake’s mind “diseased.” It’s a mind like other elites: academic, insular, divorced from the hard realities of everyday Americans.
More from Flake’s article:
There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties 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. We do not have to go very far back to identify these exemplars -- the Bob Doles and Howard Bakers and Richard Lugars of the Senate. Vigorous partisans, yes, but even more important, principled constitutional conservatives whose primary interest was in governing and making America truly great.
Let’s say this: for the most part, those Republicans operated as a minority (or with a minority mindset) in a Democrat majority universe. Bob Michael -- rest his soul -- was more interested in his golf games than fighting the fight. It took Newt Gingrich to put starch and fight into the House GOP. Where was Flake’s book when Obama was grabbing powers -- with the hearty support of his party? When nuns, cake-bakers, gun owners, small businesses, and conservative groups were on the wrong side of Obama’s liberties-stifling leftism?
Comes another man, a scholar, who’s no Trumpian, but gets what Flake fails to grasp. Victor Davis Hanson, writing for American Greatness, stated this:
But in contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry -- a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.
Republican La-La Land extends beyond permitting the minority to get away with politically malicious investigations and inquiries. And it’s not just now. It encompasses a longstanding failure to fight for those very principles and ideas that Flake claims his conscience compels him toward. Flake’s kid gloves can’t get dirty.
The wager here: Trump and Trumpians will win the fight for the GOP… and then the nation. The White House dramas won’t be recalled a generation from now. As Rush Limbaugh always says, conservativism works when put into practice. Trump and his muddy-booted legions are doing just that.
Too bad for Jeff Flake, but good for the country.