Jeff Flake’s Little Bit of Water Over the Dam

Filed in National by on August 1, 2017

Jeff Flake is no hero for finally finding his principles, but it is a start.

….we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.

But then the period of collapse and dysfunction set in, amplified by the internet and our growing sense of alienation from each other, and we lost our way and began to rationalize away our principles in the process. But where does such capitulation take us? If by 2017 the conservative bargain was to go along for the very bumpy ride because with congressional hegemony and the White House we had the numbers to achieve some long-held policy goals—even as we put at risk our institutions and our values—then it was a very real question whether any such policy victories wouldn’t be Pyrrhic ones. If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?


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Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (24)

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  1. mikem2784 says:

    He writes well. So there’s that. However, actions speak louder than words, and so far, he’s all words.

  2. jason330 says:

    True. And the water over the dam metaphor is only apt if other conservatives follow this lead. That is a group not exactly known for holding integrity as more important than keeping in line.

  3. RE Vanella says:

    Some Republicans do indeed experience the emotion of shame. That’s nice.

  4. Paul Hayes says:

    Yeah I listened to him on Morning Joe this morning. This is how Republicans will attempt to rehabilitate their “brand” going into 2018. “We were sick from 2009 until the failed votes on the ACA. Now, moving forward, we have recovered and deserve your vote to make our conservative dreams a reality”. This is the opening salvo in the 2018 election. “We’re not monsters” is the new mantra. The conversation at Joe’s table this morning included, “how awful and marginal the John Birch society was”, as if the Koch brothers, who’s father was a founding member of the JBS, are not still around promoting that toxic swill. “We have the Freedom Caucus now” as if the FC is not the working name of the JBS updated. None of them has a clue about the complexity and value of American society. They all function as size 2 brains in a size 12 world.

  5. mediawatch says:

    If Flake believes what he wrote, why wasn’t the ACA repeal vote 52-48 against?
    If any other Republican believed what Flake wrote, the vote would have been 60-40, or maybe 70-30.

  6. Exactly. Actions, not words.

  7. Paul Hayes says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that one of Flake’s comments this morning is that an example of “good” conservatism was the elevation of Neil Gorsuch to SCOTUS, forgetting that this elevation was the consequence of, and inseparable from a giant disrespecting of Obama and his nomination for SCOTUS.

  8. anonymous redux says:

    like Jason said, it’s a start. let it play out. we’re not going to get out of this mess by demonizing everybody who doesn’t pass the political purity test.

  9. alby says:

    Conservatism is the problem, and Flake still doesn’t understand that. Pretending that Trump is not the logical extension of their values is throwing sand in people’s eyes.

    Actions, not words.

  10. anonymous redux says:

    so trump is no worse than a garden-variety conservative? no rest until the nation is 100 percent “progressive?” but, yes, actions not words.

  11. alby says:

    No rest until the GOP and the conservative movement learn the multiple errors of their ways. In other words, no rest.

  12. alby says:

    I didn’t see this until after I posted that comment, but this Krugman column explains my position:

    “Republicans have spent decades losing their ability to think straight, and they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.”

  13. SussexAnon says:

    So what he is saying is…..conservatism didn’t fail, conservatives did. Again. Like every other conservative that has (what they think) is an epiphany.

    Making gov’t not work and blocking every form of progress or fix is crack for conservatives. That is not going to go away.

    There was a time when republicans and conservatives believed in limited gov’t while they supplied and funded things like roads and schools. That time has passed.

    As John Stewart pointed out conservatives claim gov’t doesn’t work, then seek ways to make (or let) it fail. Then they sit and point and claim “see it doesn’t work!” And this is ‘winning’ to the conservative community.

    Sorry, Jeff Flake. No points. And, F-U.

  14. anonymous redux says:

    so that’s why Krugman and Booman vote against republicans. so do I, with gusto. and with even more gusto if it’s trump.

  15. mikem2784 says:

    This is about Flake trying to get reelected, pure and simple. Maybe he’ll get primaried out and a decent Dem will take the seat.

  16. anonymous redux says:

    who cares what his motivation is? the more republicans who feel that kind of pressure the better. waiting around for enough “good” democrats while trump keeps up his authoritarian agenda seems dangerous. maybe some of you are getting a little comfortable with trump’s threat to democracy.

  17. alby says:

    I can recognize what Flake is doing and why while still being glad he did it. They are not mutually exclusive.

  18. Gymrat says:

    SA still wouldn’t get a nuance if he tripped over it. Flake and more Flake’s squared and replicated are going to be what gets some semblance of normalcy back.

  19. mouse says:

    I guess running competent government is harder than obstruction

  20. SussexAnon says:

    Actions, not words, Gymrat.

    He voted with hair president just last week on the healthcare bill. F-him.

    I will believe “my god what hath we R’s wrought?” when he f-ing does something SIMPLE like NOT vote with the president on SOMETHING.

    Just like Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ was going to be the ‘new’ way. 17 years ago. How’d that nuance work out?

    When it comes to the GOP, waiting for nuance to develop into something is like an abused spouse looking for a redeeming quality in their abuser.

  21. Paul Hayes says:

    He’s only pretending to make amends. He neither means it nor does he truly want bipartisanship.

  22. alby says:

    I was at Costco yesterday and I saw the reason for the Jeff Flake apostasy — he’s peddling a book, so he must be angling for higher office.

    Unfortunately for him, his approval rating in Arizona currently stands at a Chris Christie-like 18%.