Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) grabbed headlines on Tuesday by simultaneously announcing he won’t run again for Senate in 2018, and taking the opportunity to excoriate President Trump on a number of issues. It continues a recent trend of Republicans registering dissatisfaction with President Trump.
“Mr. President, I rise to say enough,” Flake said.
“I rise today with no small measure of regret,” he continued. “Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our — all of our — complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saw the opportunity to pile on the Trump critique.
“It’s very hard for me to add to the eloquence of my dear friend from Arizona,” McCain said. “But 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 to not only Arizona but to the United States of America.”
“I have seen Jeff Flake stand up for what he believes in, knowing full well there would be a political price to pay,” he added.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also gave his ringing endorsement to Flake’s rebuke of the president.
“On behalf of myself and I think many of my colleagues, we’ve just witnessed a speech from a very fine man, a man who clearly brings high principles to the office every day and does what he believes is in the interest of Arizona and the country,” McConnell said.
The comments follow increasing pressure on the Trump presidency from establishment Republicans; including former President George W. Bush and Senator Bob Corker, who lit into the president earlier on Tuesday.
“When his term is over,” Corker said, “I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth telling, and the… just the name calling, the things that I think, the debasement of our nation is what we will be remembered most important, and that’s regretful.”
As Mark Bauerlein at CNN rightly points out, McCain may be a darling of left-wing media, but he currently holds almost no sway among conservative Republicans:
“In ordinary times, Sen. McCain’s remarks about Trump would sway people on both sides of the spectrum. But these aren’t ordinary times. Everything that happens in national politics must be set in a wide foreground of liberal vilification of conservatives — and conservative defeatism.”
Senator McCain may posture himself as being above the political fray. But when it comes to the agenda that Republican congressional members and the president were elected to accomplish, many only see such remarks by Republicans senators as unhelpful, to say the least.
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