President Trump took a public drubbing from outgoing Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker on Tuesday, but he doesn't sound fazed by the criticism from his fellow Republicans. "The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected," the president tweeted Wednesday. "Now act so hurt & wounded!" While Flake's speech on the Senate floor has been hailed as "historic" in some camps, not all the sentiment is in his favor:
- What gets lost: Mike Allen at Axios points out that Trump still has the public support of nearly every GOP senator and House member, even if some grumble in private. "This—not the criticism by the few—is the story of the moment and the first nine months: With few accomplishments, countless petty GOP fights and slights, Trump is strong as ever."
- Spare me: At the Resurgent, Erick Erickson is tired of seeing the same sentiment being shared about Flake over and over—a nice, principled man bullied out of a job by Trumpism. Please. "Jeff Flake is leaving the Senate because he is a crappy politician who built his brand as one thing, used it to get to the Senate, then betrayed that brand once there." Erickson thinks Flake abandoned true fiscal conservatism in the Senate.
- Why surrender? If things are as dire for America as Flake says, wouldn't it be better to stay and fight, wonders Charles Pierce at Esquire. Corker similarly bailed. Evidently, "Flake believes that the way to reassert the balance of power between the national legislature and a national executive with a narcissistic crackpot at the helm is to get the hell out of Dodge before the roof caves in. Good profile, lacks courage."
- Ditto: This "defiant surrender" won't accomplish much, writes Ross Douthat at the New York Times. Politicians such as Flake and Corker "should engage in electoral battle because the act of campaigning, the work of actually trying to persuade voters, is the only way anti-Trump Republicans will come to grips with the legitimate reasons that their ideas had become so unpopular that voters opted for demagoguery instead."
- Party of Trump: Flake is right about one thing, writes Ben Domenech at the Federalist. He is a "vestige" of the pre-Trump GOP and is out of step with its new direction. "Again: the GOP as it was died in Cleveland," he writes, referring to the site of the GOP convention. "Flake's decision authenticates this."
- Multi-party system? At Real Clear Politics, Caitlin Huey-Burns agrees with the sentiment that Trump has taken over the GOP, and the divisions between him and Republicans such as Flake seem only to be widening. Which raises a provocative question: "Might Trumpism fuel a counter-movement toward a multi-party system?" It's obviously a long-shot prospect, but at least one poll suggests voters might be ready.
Flake followed up his memorable speech with an op-ed declaring that America is "sick."
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