Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jeff Flake Exits Stage Right, Protesting Lamely

Senator Jeff Flake delivered an impassioned speech denouncing Trump and calling on his fellow Republicans to oppose the president, but then added that he is dropping his re-election bid rather than fight against a Trump-backed candidate.

Looks as if the Republican establishment is a bunch of low-energy weaklings just as Trump likes to complain.

I mean, if Trump is "casually undermining our democratic ideals," shouldn't leaders who want to defend those ideals take a stand against him? Sure, Flake would probably lose, but if the fight matters as much as he says, why is he bowing out? What does he plan to do instead?


Unknown said...

1. What really hit me about Flake yesterday was how big his smile was. Perhaps, having given it a go, he's discovered that he's actually delighted to be leaving politics. I thought the same of Gore after he lost in 2000--that he was discovering he actually looked forward to NOT being president--and of W. Bush after he left office.

2. I wonder if some of this dying in the dark, as Douthat calls it today, by non-Trumpish Republicans has to do with discovering, as Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie put it, "All this time, I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans. But after some soul searching I realized when they voted for Rand and Ron and me in these primaries, they weren't voting for libertarian ideas—they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race. And Donald Trump won best in class, as we had up until he came along." Anyway, I think that's one of the most interesting comments I've heard about our current political situation.

G. Verloren said...


I very much could believe that huge numbers of people simply vote for whoever they believe will be the most disruptive candidate with a chance of winning, because they want to "stick it to The Man" and "shake up politics" and drive "the Fat Cats in Washington" crazy by electing a "rebel" and a "political outsider".

John said...

Here's something to ponder: if Republican voters really have little attachment to Reaganite principles, and are often simply expressing their dislike of elites and so on, is there any necessary connection between their votes and the policies of the people they vote for? Could they be led to vote for a cranky nationalist who also advocated higher taxes, national health care, etc?

Or is, for example, opposition to taxes a "natural" policy for cranky American nationalists, because they don't trust elite leaders, or think too much of the money goes to lazy minorities?

I'm just wondering how the frustrations of certain classes of voters gets attached to particular causes, and how much room there is for those attachments to change.

Unknown said...


I am often impressed at how enraged a lot of folks get at the idea that their tax money might be going to a lazy person. I've been in conversations and seen a lot of blog comments, Facebook posts, etc., where it seems that, for many people, this is the fundamental issue on which virtually all other domestic policy turns.

Unknown said...

Thinking further about it, it seems to me that for many people social morality and public policy begin and end with everyone getting what they deserve. Those who work deserve reward; those who do not deserve nothing. Criminals deserve punishment. Foreigners who don't show respect deserve a good hiding.

Pointy-headed, Enlightenment-bred snobs can do their studies and compile their statistics and make their arguments to show that actually we're all better off if criminals are rehabilitated and not punished, or if foreigners are seduced with investments rather than punished with bombing raids, or whatever--and these same intellectuals won't realize that for many folks, all this is insulting and beside the point.

It is to be pointed out that this traditional commoner morality is also not capitalist. Coal miners deserve to mine coal and get paid for it because they're willing to do the work, and in a nasty business. The fact that coal is more expensive than fuels that work better and pollute less doesn't signify.

John said...

I think that's astute, and very important.