Jeff Flake 'Has Gone Bulworth on Us'

Arizona GOP senator goes after Trump in new book, but takes flak himself
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2017 8:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has a new book out, and it's drawing more attention than the usual political tome. The Republican is critical of his own party, the conservative movement, and, most of all, President Trump. "Volatile unpredictability is not a virtue," he writes in Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle. Coverage:

  • Off track: Flake tells NPR that things were starting to go off track when he arrived in Washington in 2001 as conservatives embraced big-government ideas such as President Bush's No Child Left Behind plan. "When we couldn't argue that we were the party of limited government anymore, then that forced us into issues like flag burning or trying to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, things that we wouldn't have done otherwise if we would have been arguing about true principles of limited government or spending." All this laid the groundwork for Trump, he writes.
  • In 'denial': In an excerpt at Politico, Flake accuses Republicans of being in denial at the lack of "normalcy" in the Trump White House. He explains his own rationale: "So as I layered in my defense mechanisms, I even found myself saying things like, 'If I took the time to respond to every presiden­tial tweet, there would be little time for anything else.' Given the volume and velocity of tweets from both the Trump campaign and then the White House, this was certainly true. But it was also a monumental dodge." He also says the president's tweets are "all noise and no signal."

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  • The election: In the book, he describes the 2016 race as a “sugar high of populism, nativism, and demagoguery," per the Arizona Republic. He faults Trump "on a litany of Trumpian sins against conservative thought and action, from protectionism, to ducking entitlement reform, to praising dictators, and many things in-between," writes Robert Robb. He also calls out the president for his vilification of immigrants and opponents and his embrace of conspiracy theories.
  • Bulworth: In the New York Times, reviewer Jennifer Senior says Flake "has gone all 'Bulworth' on us, emulating that movie's devil-may-care truth-telling politician," especially in regard to his criticism of Trump. She says it will make him a "darling of the left" for a while, but she also writes that he has mostly cast his votes in favor of Trump policies and suggests his deeds aren't matching his words.
  • From the right: The book "may bring him a shiny moment in the sun with the left," writes Cheryl Chumley at the Washington Times. "But it’s alienating him with the conservatives who elected Trump. It’s showing him as part and parcel of the elitist and entrenched political class voters railed against in 2016."
(Read more Jeff Flake stories.)

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