Jeff Flake made an impassioned defense of conservative principles yesterday, and a detailed takedown of the present occupant of the White House. And no one who mattered cared.
Yes, it gained wide coverage in the media, got front page treatment from major newspapers, and was the subject of many admiring profiles and columns (including from holdout conservative #nevertrumpers). And no one who mattered cared.
Rank and file Republicans in Congress didn’t care. They were too busy looking at internal polling numbers from back home that tells them their constituents love what they are hearing from the Tweeter-in-Chief.
Those esteemed, dignified Republican Senators, from Mitch McConnell on down, didn’t care. They saw the same numbers, and more importantly, heard from the big-money backers with the most to gain from a Trump Presidency. Flake’s old news already—where’s our tax cuts?
Evangelicals surely didn’t care. They have been to the mountaintop and seen the Promised Land.
Most of the rest of Unoccupied America didn’t care—who the heck is Jeff Flake? Life under Trump is like listening to your upstairs neighbor playing grunge rock out of broken speakers. You’d like to call the Super, but he went AWOL for the weekend, and there’s no way you are calling the cops. One thing you are sure about, is slipping a note under the door isn’t going to achieve the desired results. So, you tune it out as much as you can and try to watch a bit of the World Series. Football—maybe not so much, because any minute there could be another eruption.
Democrats should care, if they could tear themselves away for just a moment from the Bernie/Hillary grudge match. Maybe there’s an electoral opening in Arizona, or, less likely, in Tennessee (where the petite and charming Bob Corker has also had enough), but, of course, Democrats remain profoundly clueless. They still haven’t figured out that complaining about Trump’s behavior is like speaking in Latin—you might find some classicists who get it, but the rest of the country is wondering, what’s wrong with English? Besides, we have Tom Perez idiotically criticizing Flake when Democrats should be looking to peel off some of his disaffected supporters. Winning elections is just too gauche for Democrats. There is nobility in political poverty.
Surely, there have to be people who care, right? How about on a strictly policy basis, shouldn’t people care? No, not at all. Flake is still a completely reliable Republican vote—there’s absolutely no distance between him and McConnell. His replacement, assuming it’s a Trump-Publican, will vote the same—just louder and more insultingly.
So, Jeff Flake is leaving—in 15 months. He was eloquent, he recalled a time of more civility and of firmer principles, he called upon his own party to return the better angels of their nature. I suspect we will hear more of that, from him, and from Bob Corker, and from columnists like Michael Gerson, Ross Douthat, Kathleen Parker, and David Brooks.
And no one seems to care about what they have to say, because they, and Jeff Flake, are the past, a choir without an audience.
Michael Liss (Moderate Moderator)
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