An honorable Republican

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican, announced today that he’s not running for reelection to the Senate, and gave a heartfelt speech on the Senate floor explaining his reasons. They all have to do with Trump’s odious policies and toxic personality.

CNN reprints his entire speech, which you should either read or watch (below), and it helps restore my faith in humanity. To me, this is the best part:

If I have been critical, it not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters – the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

Here’s a video:

So far Trump has been kept in check by Republicans like Flake and McCain, by the courts, and by the Democrats. One can hope that Trump’s continued behavior, and the failure of ambitious and coldhearted Republicans to criticize him, will change the composition of the Congress in the next four years.

It’s too late for the Supreme Court.

55 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    While I welcome comments like Flake’s, I cannot forget that the Republican Party has been building toward this fiasco for decades. Trump is the symptom of Republican malfeasance, not the corruptor of Republican virtue. What is really needed is more Republicans acknowledging how they created the climate that gave us tRump.

    • Ben Curtis
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      +1

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Flake and Corker still voted with Trump on 90+% of bills. Until they vote against him, like McCain and Colins and Murkowski, his words are meaningless.

    • Historian
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Since Trump has no policies, these Republicans have nothing to differ with. By and large, they will vote for whatever the Republican leadership in Congress wants, knowing that if the Congress actually should pass any substantive legislation, Trump will sign it. They oppose Trump’s reckless style that could get us into war and his twitter attacks, which demeans the office of the presidency and thus, also as well, the United States of America. If the ultra-conservative, religious fanatic Pence should ever become president, they will vote for his measures and effusively praise him.

      • BobTerrace
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        They voted multiple times for Obamacare repeal. Flake and Corker voted TODAY against disaster relief for Puerto Rico. Trump may not have gotten anything passed, but there have been votes that he took stands for or against.

        • Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          Excellent points. Speeches are great but as you say, those fine words will be ignored unless they are backed up by meaningful action.

      • Ben Curtis
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Exactly.

    • marvol19
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Fully agree. Hollow words until they start voting against Trump. Meaning voting against Obamacare repeal, against any Mexican wall malarkey, against attacks on women’s reproductive rights, etc.

      Unfortunately Trump’s ideas actually and not coincidentally align very will with those of the GOP.

      In effect they’re likely even to help Trump by stepping aside and giving an even more extreme, pro Trump candidate a chance.

  3. Derek Freyberg
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The problem with Flake’s not running again is who his successor might be, especially with Steve Bannon announcing that – on behalf of Trump – he’ll fight to make sure candidates to his liking get elected even if the Republican establishment in the relevant state wants someone else.
    What the country needs is not Republicans saying “I’m quitting because of Trump” but Republicans like Flake, or like Susan Collins (who has announced that she will not run for governor of Maine, though goodness knows Maine needs a better governor than Paige), saying “I’m staying to make sure Trump doesn’t go too far.”

    • BJ
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      But Flake was to face one of the most difficult races of any Senator in 2018 (which is probably the real reason he’s retiring).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Flake’s announced primary challenger (and, now, the leading candidate to replace him) is perennial Arizona candidate Kelli Ward, the ghoul who, the instant John McCain announced he has a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, called for him to resign immediately so she could be appointed to take his seat. Ward is a promoter of wild-eyed conspiracy theories, lending her sobriquet “Chemtrail Kelli.” She was a featured speaker, and special guest of Steve Bannon, at the recent far-right, inaptly named “Values Voters” summit.

      She has the makings to be the GOP’s next Roy Moore.

      • Derek Freyberg
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        That sounds like a very good reason for Flake to run again!

      • BJ
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        “She has the makings to be the GOP’s next Roy Moore.”

        I think she’s more of a Michelle Bachmann.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

          Bachmann and Moore, I think, come from the same neck of the GOP jungle — the one that favors gay conversion therapy and eschews the rule of law (among its multifarious depredations).

    • ethologist
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I totally agree…true honor would be to run for reelection on his principles, and to give conservative voters an alternative to Trump. I’m no conservative and would never vote for Flake, but I’m concerned that the lack of sane people on the right leaves the field to Bannon and Trump.

      • Posted October 25, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        The problem with that is, it turns out that conservatives have no real constituency (much like libertarians). The GOP base has been voting against the Democrats (read black people and coastal elites), not for conservative policies. No one seems to like those except CEOs and GOP politicians. The base wants protectionism, Jesus, guns, etc. They don’t really care about the Constitution or conservative economics. That’s why mainstream Republicans are having a hard time getting reelected.

  4. Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I like honorable Republicans. I just wish there were more of them. I count about six–Collins, Corker, Flake, McCain, Murkowski and Sasse.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Not honorable enough to call for impeachment. And, I agree with Derek. As these folks leave it is likely they will be replaced by super hard right nutjobs who will support Trump.

      • Craw
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        Honorable enough not to pretend disapproval is grounds for impeachment. Like it or not other people are allowed to elect politicians you don’t like. Talk about eroding the standards and values the republic depends on.

        • John Conoboy
          Posted October 24, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          Impeachment is actually a political process, not a criminal process. There are plenty of grounds for impeachment if they wanted to get rid of Trump.

          • Simon Hayward
            Posted October 25, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

            John, what grounds specifically?

            The Arpaio pardon might – at a stretch – qualify, as misuse of the pardon power does fit. But essentially as far as I can tell (and I have no special knowledge on this) there is nothing else that passes muster (however much I might wish the opposite)

            Sam Harris had a conversation with Cass Sunstein on his podcast a week or so back that covered some of this. It was interesting to hear from an actual law professor rather than my usual source, pundits, how this thing actually works. And how difficult it is to get it to stick.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          In terms of grounds for impeachment, we’ve got conspiracy to obstruct justice and (very likely) accessory-after-the-fact to the theft of electronic data from John Podesta and the DNC. I’d also be quite surprise if the Mueller investigation hasn’t uncovered wide-scale laundering of Russian money and all manner of scams, frauds, and swindles.

          Nevertheless, I think any official action concerning impeachment is premature until Robert Mueller either brings indictments or files a report, or until the congressional committees looking into Russian interference with our 2016 election get further along in their investigations.

    • Craw
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Romney denounced Trump early and loudly. And he was the party’s previous nominee! Has that ever happened before?

      • Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        The Bushes too have made it clear where they stand. I do fear that these folks are Republicans past, whereas the the Trumpistas are Republicans present and future.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Romney’s public denunciation of Trump was perhaps his finest hour. But it did not come nearly soon enough to do any good (and was tainted by his obvious self-interest in becoming the compromise Republican nominee should Trump be stopped). Then Mitt had to go and spoil it all by sleazily cozying up to president-elect Trump as soon as a possible secretary-of-state appointment was dangled in front of him.

        So to answer your question, no, that kind of unscrupulous political tergiversation has never been seen before.

  5. Posted October 24, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  6. Andy Lowry
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Good for him, I guess. He’s one of my senators. Not all that honorable, though; he was a cosponsor of the bill that sold my internet privacy to my ISP. I get his newsletter (and McCain’s) so I can keep tabs on what’s going on, and he was completely clueless about the ISP thing– or pretended to be, at least. Thanks to Flake and his ilk, I now have to run a VPN all the damned time.

    • Craw
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Which is it though, clueless or dishonorable? Jerry is trying to make a useful distinction between stuff that is just odious and disagreement or error. You should be able to respect people who disagree with you for honest reasons. As opposed to presidents who make childish and resentful tweets say. Flake can be clueless about ISPs without that being a sign of moral turpitude can’t he?

      • BJ
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Then again it’s hard to know which is worse: not caring about the consequences of a policy (likely because he is committed to supporting something a corporation/s wants passed), or being so lazy and uncommitted to representing the interests of his constituents that he never even bothered to read the materials prepared for him by his aides and/or read materials from the CRS directly. In fact, the second option seems pretty dishonorable, but it can be explained by mere incompetence or apathy.

      • BJ
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Though I admit that most Congresspeople don’t seem to have even a slight grasp on how the internet works, which was made clear during the national conversation about making it a public service.

        Now, rock out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cZC67wXUTs

        • Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Wiki says:

          “A series of tubes” is a phrase coined originally as an analogy by then-United States Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to describe the Internet

          I note the R after the name.

          • BJ
            Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            Trust me, I could pull up tons of very stupid quotes from both sides of the isle when it comes to the internet, and probably any other subject 😦

            • GBJames
              Posted October 25, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

              “Trust me”

              For some reason those two words no longer mean what they used to.

              • darrelle
                Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

                “I’ve got the best quotes.”

              • BJ
                Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

                Look, the quotes are gonna be beautiful. I have the quotes. I have them. I will release them soon. They’re great quotes.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

                That I can tell you.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I suspect what we are continuing to witness is ultimately the destruction of a party. It started with the Tea party crazies and will end when this really gets started. If the republicans in congress do not stand up and throw this pathetic thing they call a president out, they will all pay the price. The tax thing they are playing with now is already a looser because Trump has already tweeted it down. The party in power has no vision, no control of themselves and it is coming apart. They are making America a joke to the world and that is what Corker was talking about today. The only thing we do today in American govt. is wait until tomorrow and see what the malignant narcissistic child will do next. The danger is in how slowly or quickly they get rid of him.

  8. eric
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I’d much rather he tried to stay in office and developed/voted for policies that are, y’know, good for his constituents. Instead of voting for something because of a big donation or voting for something because his party tells him they want him to.

    Trump wouldn’t be that big of a legislative problem, if legislators were willing to stand up to him and put their loyalty to district and state ahead of their loyalty party. Then again, maybe it will rain puppies and unicorns tomorrow, too.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.
      I saw something a couple of days back on the demise of the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino as drug czar, with a constituent asking, in effect, “why wasn’t this guy thinking about us?” since his district has had a significant number of opioid overdoses.
      But loyalty to party and loyalty to sources of money seems to rank ahead of loyalty (dare I say it, duty) to constituents and country.

    • Ben Curtis
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think “good for his constituents” has ever been a real concern for Corker or Flake, but surely some of their constituents disagree, but apparently not enough to ensure re-election. Maybe if they had been more concerned with “good for their constituents” they wouldn’t have to resort to what look like pretend moral reasons for their actions.

    • Posted October 25, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      He could also resign from the party and sit as an Independent, and then later run as same, too.

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    It’s good that he has integrity, but soon everyone with integrity will be gone, leaving the sycophants & incompetents in their place.

    • eric
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t exactly call it integrity. Integrity would be talking about the corruption of the presidency before or while running for re-election as a Republican. I.e. speaking truth even when you stand to lose from it, rather than only after you’ve ensured no real loss can accrue to you for doing it.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    The decent, honorable, principled conservatives — and there have been quite of few of them, and quite a few of them prominent — have all been in the “never Trump” camp from the get-go (since there’s never been any doubt about Trump’s utter unfitness for office). Recently, some stragglers have joined their ranks, in light of Trump’s horrid performance in office, most notably retiring Tennessee senator Bob Corker.

    But the rest of the Republican congressional delegation — including many who tacitly agree with Corker regarding how dangerous and unfit Trump is — have chosen to keep a low profile-in-courage. They, too, will turn on Trump eventually — bet on it! — but only after irrefutable evidence of Trump’s degradation comes to light, once it becomes painfully obvious it is in their own narrow political self-interest to do so (the way the Republican rank-and-file finally turned on Nixon after the Watergate tapes came to light).

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Said very well. The herd does not follow until the last minute, as they did in the Nixon case. However, one thing should be clear now and that is the ability for the republicans to get their big tax bill through is becoming less every day. Corker, Flake and the other Senator from Arizona are enough to kill it. That means Trump bats zero for the whole lousy year.

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      “They, too, will turn on Trump eventually — bet on it! — but only after irrefutable evidence of Trump’s degradation comes to light, once it becomes painfully obvious it is in their own narrow political self-interest to do so”

      Perhaps they would turn on Trump as soon after a tax reform is voted. Their self-interest in this reform, which serves well high-earning people (like political contributors), may keep them patient about Trump’s bad behaviors until that point.

  11. W.Benson
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    It seems now, according to the Washington Post, that the DNC banked and perhaps influenced the content of the Trump-Russia dossier. Info concerning the dossier was certainly on the DNC server, so why wasn’t Russia able to hack this when they (allegedly) got the info, posted by Wikileaks, showing that the DNC was sabotaging Bernie. This new revelation, I fear, is going to put the DNC in a deep, deeo hole of its own making. I say, a pox on both of their houses.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      If the DNC had info all backed up, why would they not have used it back then, before the election? And don’t forget who was paying for this Dossier before the DNC, the republicans. So what is your point? The important thing to come out of this report will be to confirm that all or part of it is true. Not to do what the republicans would like to do which is kill it.

      • W.Benson
        Posted October 25, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        If Hillary and the DNC didn’t list the dossier as a campaign expense, it could be taken by the FEC as a willful violation of campaign laws. Of course, if it was bought, and it was, the GOP will claim that everything in it is a lie fabricated by Hillary and the DNC. This is believable to many independents. That is how it will be sold, and that is how Donald Trump will twist it. Hillary and John Podesta, by being big-time dishonest, and now by purging the Democratic party of Bernie progressives, have done to the Democrats what Trump is doing the the Republicans. Reports are coming out that Bernie will run as an independent while the Dems and GOP consume one another.

        I don’t buy the Putin-Trump collaboration story. It was invented to go along with the dossier. Of course, Putin hates Hillary because of the chaos, anti-Americanism, and incitation of terrorism she, Obama, Bush, Cheney, and others have caused in the Middle East.

  12. chris moffatt
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Trump can only get away with his antics because for years the Congress has ignored its responsibilities and has allowed the Imperial Presidency to gain more and more control. To the point that Senator Corker openly says that Trump is risking WW3 without even mentioning that it is the job of Congress to stop him.

    They are not going to get this job done by resigning in disgust. They’ll get it done only by joining forces and taking back their constitutional powers. I am not holding my breath.

  13. Curt Nelson
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t it point to the need for term limits — that the two politicians willing to speak truthfully about the president are quitting congress?

  14. Martin X
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I think our standards for “honorable” have fallen quite a bit. Flake would do greater service by remaining a Senator and calling for Trump’s impeachment.

    As for McCain, he’s only offered fainthearted resistance to Trumpism. And I can’t forgive him Sarah Palin.

    There are three possible results to these GOP retirements:

    1) Creating opportunities for electing Democrats

    2) Electing more moderate Republicans

    3) Electing more radical Republicans

    One possible upside to electing more radical Republicans is that it might force less crazy voters into the Democrat camp.

  15. GregZ
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Easy to tell the truth when he’s not beholden to voters to get elected again. Too little, too late. Note also he just voted with his party to overturn a regulation that would have allowed class-action lawsuits by citizens against big banks and credit card companies.

  16. Curt Nelson
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t it point to the need for term limits — that the two politicians willing to speak truthfully about the president are quitting congress?

    • Posted October 26, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Term limits are a very mixed bag for me. Because of term limits (which the founders debated and rejected at least for the chief executive), a certain capable and still young chief executive was forced to leave. If he had run again, I’m pretty sure he would have beaten Trump.


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