What do you call someone who lectures players on how to play ball but then grounds into a double play every time he’s up to bat? A Jeff Flake. Or maybe just a plain flake.
If Senator Jeff Flake would expend a fraction of the energy he spends on sanctimoniously promoting his work on giving a forceful vision for conservatism on the Senate floor, we would have a different party. Most ironic, if not for the disgusting posturing and vacuous vision of those like Flake, we wouldn’t have Trump as the leader of the Republican Party in the first place. Flake is the embodiment of the intellectually bankrupt party that gave rise to Trump. Flake is so worried now about the effect of Trump on the party he never had a vision for before. If he wants to know how we got here, he should look in the mirror.
This week, the GOP media machine has been promoting Jeff Flake’s new book, a smug and sanctimonious polemic about his concerns over the future of conservatism. Except it has nothing to do with the authentic concerns all of us have about the party — the party that has stood for nothing on social, fiscal, or national security issues while the left has marched on, more truculent than ever in its pursuit of cultural and economic Marxism.
Jeff Flake is the poster child for the frustrating dynamic many of us have been confronted with in the past two years — the false choice between the status-quo failed GOP establishment and Trump. For those who were seeking a true American revolution built upon the timeless principles laid out in the original “Conscience of a Conservative,” written by Barry Goldwater, the debate over Trump has been a distraction. Most traditional conservatives are neither for nor against Trump; we are for the same agenda we have always supported, always seeking innovative strategies and tactics to promote timeless ideas. This distraction has been allowed to consume Republican politics because the voters got fed up with people like Jeff Flake.
When Jeff Flake was originally confronted with his failure to abide by his term-limit promise, he joked, “ I lied … I don’t know what else to say.” At a later event, Flake explained that the term-limit movement was still alive when he took office and it was the thing to do. But, he said, he quickly realized that it would take longer to get things done and that limiting his time in office was a mistake.
This sounds similar to an excuse given by a recent pledge breaker, Markwayne Mullin, after he got promoted to a leadership position.
So what has Flake accomplished for us that was so worth breaking his term-limit pledge?
Flake fails his state
After spending too much time in Washington, rather than changing the Senate, Flake got changed by it. Rather than giving a vision for judicial reform, a workable immigration plan, a foreign policy that puts America first, or a health care system that functions like a healthy market, Flake served as a rudderless lord of his small fiefdom in the Senate, always operating within the policy universe set out by the Left. His only major accomplishment was joining the Gang of 8 open borders initiative, which was a colossal betrayal of his state and of the first responsibility of a public servant.
The first responsibility of an elected representative is to represent his constituents and his state. As of 2013, it was estimated that there were 630,700 illegal aliens residing in Arizona. That is a population of foreign invaders larger than the total population of any single colony at the time of our founding. Over 10 percent of the state’s public school population is composed of illegal alien children. When coupled with the fiscal strain of health care and incarceration, the total cost of illegal immigration is $2.4 billion a year. As a result, Arizona has become the drug capital of the country. Yet, instead of relentlessly advocating for the sovereignty of his state with at least as much gusto as the California senators advocate for sanctuary cities, Flake spent the lion’s share of his time putting the priorities of Mexico’s government ahead of the security and economy of his own state.
That issue alone encapsulates why so many people flocked to Trump in the primary and wouldn’t even hear some of the legitimate conservative concerns about the future president. The only alternative presented to them was people like Jeff Flake, who only assailed Trump from the Left. Voters figured, “Well, if he’s against Trump, I must be for him.”
Being a social liberal invariably leads to fiscal liberalism
From day one, even when he was a fiscal conservative in the House, Flake agreed with the Left on cultural issues. But as many of us have warned, when you operate exclusively within the universe of the Left on cultural issues, it’s only a matter of time before you throw fiscal issues overboard as well. Flake has proven the truth of that theory. He was an ardent opponent and saboteur of Cruz’s effort to defund Obamacare in 2013.
Ironically, Cruz was proven right in his premonition that failure to defund the law in its incipient stage would result in acquiescence to its expansion. Jeff Flake, and his utter silence on the issue, is living proof that Cruz was correct. While Cruz was doing everything possible to compromise with people like Flake to get some sort of repeal on the table, even to the point where many of us disagreed with him, Flake long ago gave up on that fight. Nor is he providing the sort of supply-side health care reform people like me have been championing in recent months. Nope, Flake is too busy selling books. And anyway, long ago he told us, “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
What about his work on the Energy Committee?
In 2009, Flake, along with Bob Inglis, became the first Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation imposing a carbon tax on producers and distributors of fossil fuels, which would lead to higher fossil fuel costs for consumers. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, would have set a tax of $15 per ton of carbon dioxide produced in its first year in effect, with the tax rising to $100 per ton over three decades
Some fiscal conservative there!
What about Flake’s work on the Senate Judicial Committee? While people like Ted Cruz have been proposing judicial reform ideas, Flake sat idly by and rubber-stamped many of Obama’s liberal judges.
So what exactly does Flake feel passionate about, and why must I read his book to ascertain something that should be obvious from his six-year tenure in the Senate? This is true of some other senators who are busy selling books but have never gotten their fingernails dirty on a single major policy fight, as Cruz and Lee have. The rule of thumb is that if you haven’t shown us a vision when you are actually on the playing field, there is no reason you should be taken seriously when you’re shouting in the bleachers.
Recently, President Trump downplayed the role of Jeff Sessions in winning Trump the primary. In a future tweet he might want to upgrade the role Jeff Flake and his compatriots played in electing him. Without feckless Republicans, Trump would have never found an audience.
Many of us are concerned about Trump’s lack of a coherent vision for some conservative priorities. But even more disconcerting is that as much as he’s not a conservative, most Republican senators find a way to outflank him and “out-flake” him … to the Left. A party where a man like Trump has become the “right” flank is a party that will not last much longer.
Jeff Flake is why we have Donald Trump. The vacuum of leadership had to be filled at some point. Many of us caught in between are disappointed because we have always stood for bold ideas — ideas that have been overshadowed by the clown show — but the last person who has the right to complain about Trump is Flake.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.