Not to sound ungracious and unappreciative of his bravery, but when a Republican gets a front-page story in the Washington Post for sounding normal, it’s pretty sad.
Sen. Jeff Flake has been getting a lot of attention for his attacks on President Trump, Trump the candidate — and the senator’s own Republican Party for abetting both in recent months.
His argument is a wide-ranging conservative manifesto against Trumpism.
Against the president’s “seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians,” as Flake wrote for Politico this week.
And against the White House’s demonization of Muslims and Mexicans, Flake (Ariz.) writes in his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative.”
And “a far-right press that too often deals in unreality,” and right-wing voters’ celebration of anger and a Republican Party that “abandoned its core principles” in the course of a single year in 2016.
And on and on goes this list of conservative betrayals in the past two years.
But Sunday, as he promoted his book on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Flake took his assault on Trumpism back years further — all the way to the pre-dawn of Trump’s political rise, to “when the birtherism thing was going on,” as Flake put it to host Chuck Todd.
“Some people did stand up, but not enough,” the senator said. “That was particularly ugly.”
“Did you do enough?” Todd asked.
Flake smiled. “On that, I think I did.”
Mr. Flake’s objections to rampant birtherism might carry a little more weight and credibility if he had voted against the confirmation of John Bush, author of birther blog posts, to the federal bench. But of course he did vote for him.
In every other regard, he sticks to the GOP “core principles” — pro-gun, anti-choice, war-mongering yada yada — that go with the label of Barry Goldwater Republican, including appropriating the title of the late senator’s book that hit the streets almost 60 years ago. (Back then the senator from Arizona was considered to be as much an outlier in the party as Trump is today.) So the fact that he’s trying to bring the party in from the tin-foil hat brigade — and maybe even mount a primary challenge in 2020 — tells you how far they’ve ridden on the choo-choo to Garbagetown.