Flaky: GOP se­na­tor bested by Trump goes off the deep end

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY JOSEPH CURL

Jeff Flake has got it all: He’s tall, buff and hand­some, with a made-for-TV smile. He lives in a huge house in a gated com­mu­nity (with high walls, of course), has a pretty blonde wife and five fab­u­lous chil­dren. Plus, he’s a mem­ber of one of the most ex­clu­sive clubs in the World: The Se­nate.

But Mr. Flake, 55, and (re­port­edly) a Repub­li­can, has been get­ting flaky ever since he en­gaged in a bat­tle of wits with Pres­i­dent Trump, who beat him like a rented mule.

In Septem­ber 2016, Trump tweeted: “The Repub­li­can Party needs strong and com­mit­ted lead­ers, not weak peo­ple such as @Jef­fFlake, if it is go­ing to stop il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.” That same month he wrote: “The Great State of Ari­zona, where I just had a mas­sive rally (amaz­ing peo­ple), has a very weak and in­ef­fec­tive Se­na­tor, Jeff Flake. Sad!”

By Oc­to­ber, Mr. Flake, with his poll num­bers sag­ging and his re-elec­tion cam­paign sput­ter­ing, an­nounced he would not seek re-elec­tion.

Mr. Trump rev­eled in his foe’s down­fall.

“Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is un­electable in the Great State of Ari­zona (quit race, ane­mic polls) was caught (pur­posely) on ‘mike’ say­ing bad things about your fa­vorite Pres­i­dent. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts be­cause his po­lit­i­cal career any­way is ‘toast,’ ” Mr. Trump tweeted in Novem­ber 2016.

There must be some­thing in the Ari­zona wa­ter. The other se­na­tor from there, Sen. John McCain, has also tar­geted Mr. Trump, both be­fore he won the White House and af­ter. Mr. McCain, still bit­ter over his 2008 loss to Barack Obama, thinks Mr. Trump is wrong about, well, ev­ery­thing.

So does Mr. Flake. “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,” Mr. Flake said Wed­nes­day in a com­mence­ment ad­dress at the Har­vard School of Law. “And our Ar­ti­cle I branch of gov­ern­ment, the Congress, is ut­terly supine in the face of the moral van­dal­ism that flows from the White House daily.”

Mr. Flake waxed po­etic: “All is not well. We have a sick­ness of the spirit,” and painted the Scourge of Trump as ev­i­dence that the very fab­ric of society is un­rav­el­ing: “This is it, if you have been won­der­ing what the bot­tom looks like.”

The tele­genic se­na­tor now spends more time in green rooms than he does in the Se­nate cham­ber, with lib­eral net­works clam­or­ing for a Repub­li­can who will diss the sit­ting pres­i­dent (just like me­dia dar­ling McCain did to make his career as a “mav­er­ick.”)

Mr. Flake, though, has big am­bi­tions. On Sun­day, when he was once again on TV bash­ing Mr. Trump, Mr. Flake didn’t rule out run­ning for pres­i­dent against the in­cum­bent Repub­li­can.

“It’s not in my plans, but I have not ruled any­thing out,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I do hope some­body runs on the Repub­li­can side other than the pres­i­dent, if noth­ing else to sim­ply re­mind Repub­li­cans what con­ser­vatism is and what Repub­li­cans have tra­di­tion­ally stood for.”

Mr. Flake also called Mr. Trump’s claims of an FBI spy be­ing em­bed­ded in his cam­paign a “di­ver­sion tac­tic.” “He’s ob­vi­ously prob­ing the edges [of that idea] as far as he can.”

But the se­na­tor is at least hon­est about what op­pos­ing Mr. Trump means to members of Congress. “This is the pres­i­dent’s party, and if you’re run­ning in a pri­mary right now and you stand up to the pres­i­dent, or stand up in some cases for em­pir­i­cal truth, then you have trou­ble in pri­maries,” Mr. Flake said.

Just like Mr. Flake did be­fore he de­cided to quit his day job.

And it’s not even clear where Mr. Flake stands ide­o­log­i­cally. Asked if he’d run as a Repub­li­can, he said, “I think so.”

All this didn’t work out so well for his men­tor Mr. McCain — and it won’t for Mr. Flake. The main­stream me­dia loves him now, slam­ming his fel­low Repub­li­can at ev­ery turn, but if he were to run as a Repub­li­can, he’d suf­fer the same fate Mr. McCain did: The MSM turned on him and diced him up into lit­tle pieces.

Mr. Flake may yet run for pres­i­dent, but it won’t be in 2020, against Mr. Trump. He’s been bested by The Don once al­ready, and he slunk away with his tail be­tween his legs. He may be hand­some, but he isn’t stupid.

No, Mr. Flake will do what all the oth­ers do when they leave Congress: Slide right through the re­volv­ing door and get a cushy job with a mas­sive salary.

That way he can build a big­ger wall around his house. Joseph Curl cov­ered the White House and pol­i­tics for a decade for The Wash­ing­ton Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@ gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

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