Any honest appraisal of former Senator Jeff Flake’s (r-AZ) three-year campaign of vitriol against President Trump would conclude that its only notable result was the fizzling out of the senator’s own career. After all, how many times have you heard people say that the man who authored a book in 2017 titled Conscience of a Conservative caused them to re-evaluate their political principles? The mere thought brings chuckles. There was only one reason Flake enjoyed a constant stream of favorable media attention from 2016 through 2018: He was a sitting Republican senator and he had bad things to say about Donald Trump.
…like a tranquilized elephant from a broad consensus on economic philosophy…
The leftist media establishment, of course, has long treasured “conscientious” GOP pols who somehow only ever pontificate against other Republicans. This hardly rare form of Swamp flora is always carefully cultivated, with regular watering and plenty of sunlight. But it is unusual to say the least to see such a figure be granted further exposure once the game is up and he has been soundly rejected by those he had regularly besmirched.
Flogging a Dead RINO
Yet CBS, for some strange reason, still sees sparks of life in Flake’s decisively destroyed political brand. The network has announced that he will be working as a “contributor” on political coverage. It paired this revelation with the completely unastonishing news that Flake will not be running for president in 2020. The ex-senator acknowledged during an appearance on CBS This Morning “that “there really isn’t a path right now” for him to mount a successful campaign.
There really wasn’t a path for Flake to be re-elected to the Senate in 2018 either, which is why he decided to “retire” instead as polls showed him trailing primary challenger Kelli Ward by double digits. What a surprise that an incumbent senator who was driven out of his own seat without even being able to put up a fight also discovered that no one was clamoring for him to run for the White House in 2020 as well.
This non-existent base of support perhaps explains Flake’s landing spot at CBS. The fake news media were the main culprits in feeding the illusion that this lightweight ever posed a real challenge to Trump’s standing within the GOP in the first place. And Flake gave ’em the goods, spouting the usual talking points they so love to “report” an anguished Republican uttering.
“Never has a party so quickly or easily abandoned its core principles as my party did in the course of the 2016 campaign….lurch[ing] like a tranquilized elephant from a broad consensus on economic philosophy and free trade that had held for generations to an incoherent and often untrue mash of back-of-the-envelope populist slogans,” NPR gleefully quoted Flake writing in his turgid book. Nothing hits a leftist sweet spot better than a Republican denouncing “nativism” and “xenophobia” in his own ranks.
That basically captures the gist of Flake’s repeated attacks on Trump. Once this dull hectoring fell flat, as it was inevitably bound to do in today’s political climate, Flake preposterously tried to spin that reality as the price to be paid for speaking hard truths within the ranks.
“I have been failing my tribe for some time now,” Flake said in October. “Well, by the ways that we measure political success in this sordid era and by the conventions of how party loyalist are supposed to behave. I hope to continue to fail my tribe. I would encourage us all across the political spectrum to take the same risk. Step out of your tribe.”
And so now Flake is courageously stepping outside of the conservative tribe he never truly cared about and will “continue to fail” it as an official voice of the dying mainstream media. And he’ll be handsomely compensated for his efforts, no doubt. He already lobbed his first mealy-mouthed mushball during his CBS This Morning appearance. Vapidly decrying “partisan politics” in Washington, Flake squeaked: “It is tough, on both sides. I think it’s particularly pronounced on the Republican side.”
Yawn. A steady dose of this bilge will no doubt follow.
There is a reason you don’t see Jeb Bush or Eric Cantor regularly commenting on network television. When they were in the game, their subversive “anti-Republican by a Republican” posturing proved a valuable tool in media framing meant to boost progressive issues. But after they were rejected and defeated within their own party, the façade failed to serve a purpose any longer and all attention faded away.
Jeff Flake has been similarly jettisoned by the people he pretended to serve. Hollow condemnations of Trump and other Republicans made by him from a shaky CBS soapbox will not move the needle one inch more than an Eric Cantor statement on anything would today. Expect Flake to disappear into the mindless perfumed talking head morass that is television news without a trace. It will be a fitting end for a man who has been given far more attention than he ever deserved.