It took Arizona’s junior Republican Senator Jeff Flake (shown) 17 minutes in a speech to the Senate on Tuesday to say that he’d had enough: “I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles. To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.”
Flake said he plans to continue to snipe at the president: “We must be unafraid to stand up and speak out … I plan to spend the remaining fourteen months of my senate term doing just that.”
Initially one might have thought that Flake was attacking the far left — BLM, George Soros, the members of the radical congressional caucuses — blaming them for many of America’s current difficulties: “We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country: the personal attacks, the threats against principles, the reckless provocations.”
But no, his target was President Trump. Without ever once mentioning his name, Flake levelled his charges at the current occupant of the White House: “We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: it is dangerous to a democracy.”
Hopefully Flake knows that America is not a democracy but a constitutional republic, but that major misstep is only one of many he made in his farewell speech. He confirmed his worldview as a globalist by celebrating the United Nations (Tuesday was the 72nd anniversary of its establishment on American soil): “We … created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years.”
In his just-released book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, Flake doubled down on his globalist ideology: “In this country we are less than 5 percent of the world’s population. We are 20 percent of the world’s economic output. And if we don’t trade, we don’t grow. Given the alternatives, I’ll take the globalist moniker, thank you.”
In a remarkable 2016 interview with Business Insider, Flake pushed for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) despite the American people’s growing awareness of its dangers: “I do still think there are enough people that realize we’ve got to [pass] it. Some of those things you just suck up and do it because you know it has to be done. And this is one of them.”
In his swan song to the Senate on Tuesday, Flake complained that the United Nations’ “world order” was now being threatened by Trump and his administration: “Now, it seems to me, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.”
Flake lamented that “at this moment a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party.”
That part is certainly true. Recent polls show him sporting a 19-point negative rating among his constituents, and trailing his opponent in the upcoming Republican primary — osteopathic physician and former state representative Kelli Ward — by 26 percentage points. No wonder his staff and advisors recommended that he get out while the getting is good.
Almost immediately, establishment Republican figures rushed to offer Flake succor over his decision, including senior Republican Arizona Senator John McCain: “I do want to say that it has been one of the great honors of my life to serve with a man of integrity, honor, decency and commitment not only to Arizona but to the United States of America.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added: “We have just witnessed a speech from a very fine man, a man who clearly brings high principles to the office every day.”
Flake said precious little about his stances on immigration being the primary cause of his disagreements with the president. Indeed, he holds a number of positions that place him farther and farther outside the current conversation over immigration. He was one of the “Gang of Eight” senators who tried to pass “comprehensive immigration reform” in 2013 that would have essentially legalized the estimated 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. He was one of those who wanted to grant amnesty to illegals following Mitt Romney's loss to Barack Obama in 2012 as the only policy solution to regaining the White House in the future.
He admitted that he obstructed the Border Patrol from searching his family’s “alfalfa fields for [illegal] migrants. When I would hear the distinctive whine of [their aircraft] I’d hop on a horse, put on a hat that would obscure my head, and try to divert the Border Patrol away from our [illegal] workers — [I was] a decoy in the game of cat and mouse.”
He broke his promise to support closing a loophole in immigration law that allowed illegals immediate access to state and local welfare benefits. He opposes Trump’s wall and opposed the RAISE Act, which proposed cutting the number of green cards issued to immigrants in half.
Flake’s announcement followed less than a month after Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker announced his own departure. As conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham noted, “Accomplished: Boehner, Cantor, Corker, Flake.”
Photo: AP Images