I see no need to romanticize Jeff Flake. He has always struck me as having a personal decency that is recognized by many who don’t agree with his politics. He has also been much more willing than most of his colleagues to speak out against President Trump, even though he’s significantly more politically vulnerable than all but one of them. With all this said, he’s not just a conservative but a very conservative Republican.
For all his criticism, he has been a very reliable vote for President Trump.
But I’m still pretty stunned by this turn of events. We know Trump is a bull in a china shop. We know that he’s creating cross-cutting tensions within the GOP that are hard to navigate. We know that everyone around President Trump gets damaged. But Flake giving up his seat just makes the impact of Trump, the electoral carnage palpable and visible in an entirely new way.
Jeff Flake is 54 years old. He served a dozen years in the House before running for the Senate in 2012, the first opening that came up while he was in Congress. Politicians don’t put in that time building a base and a political track to bail out of the Senate after one term. Basically not ever. Certainly not for someone like Jeff Flake.
No, sentimentality. But wow. The carnage and the stress and the destruction. There will be much more. Trump is poison. He arranges around himself, the worst and least principled sort of people. We’ll all be damaged more.