Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) exited stage left Tuesday, making media hearts swoon as he trashed President Donald Trump and the “new normal” he represents.
CNN political analyst Mark Preston could barely contain himself.
"I call it historic. This is the type of speech that I think tomorrow should be shown, should be listened to by every high school civics class, politics class, history class," he said. "The reason being is that we are in a moment in time right now where there's so much divisiveness in the country; there's so much divisiveness amongst our own selves; there's so much divisiveness within each political party, that something has to break."
Flake, a longtime Trump critic, blasted the president as he announced on the Senate floor that he would not seek re-election next year. He expressed regret over the "state of our disunion," the "coarseness of our leadership," the "compromise of our moral authority," and "alarming and dangerous affairs."
Flake said such conduct not only is "reckless, outrageous and undignified," but "dangerous to a democracy" when it comes from the top.
"We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals," he said. "We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks. The threats against principles, freedoms and institutions, the flagrant disregard of truth and decency."
Neither Flake nor his media fans mentioned that Flake appeared likely to lose if he ran for re-election. A Morning Consult poll over the summer indicated that 45 percent of Arizona voters had a negative view of him, making him one of the most unpopular senators in the country. They also did not mention that Flake trailed state senator Kelli Ward by double digits in polls handicapping the GOP primary.
To Preston, Flake delivered a "big moment" for the country.
"Jeff Flake just said he decided he couldn't do it anymore. He had to step out," he said. "And I do think that this is a moment right now, and a very big moment for our country, given everything that has happened, to stop, think about what direction we are going in, and try to readjust our course."
CNN's Gloria Borger interpreted post-speech words of kindness by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as evidence that he agrees with what Flake said. But she insinuated that McConnell is a coward for not saying so.
"I thought to myself, McConnell knows exactly what he's talking about and probably agrees with him," she said. "But he finds himself in this position as the leader of the Republicans, and there's not much he's gonna do about it. And that's the problem."
What exactly McConnell should "do about it," Borger did not specify.
Borger and other commentators did not contrast Flake's bold words with his unwillingness to fight for them in an election.
"It is often said that children are watching," Flake said. "Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, 'Why didn't you do something? Why didn't you speak up?' — what are we going to say?"
What will Flake say when those children ask why he did not try to make his case against a pro-Trump candidate rather than attack him from the floor of the Senate and then slink into retirement?
Last Modified: October 25, 2017, 12:43 am