Are congressional Republicans really cooling on Trump?

Casey Dawson
August 5, 2017

This is behavior that transcends ideology; it is part of the "destructive politics" Flake mentions in the Politico excerpt of Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle. "If this was our Faustian bargain", he said of Trump's election, "then it was not worth it". "If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?"

Flake spoke of the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

Mr Flake said on cable channel MSNBC: "If we ascribe the worst motives to our opponents and demean them and call them clowns or losers, you just lose the ability to sit down and solve the big issues and actually enact conservative policy". Flake drafted the book, an excoriation of the Republican Party's enabling Trump, in secret, telling NPR that while people in politics would have cautioned him not to make his already uphill road to re-election any more hard with the book, "I thought it was important to stand up when I had something to risk".

"Conservatives voters won't support amnesty". Not exactly a program of full-throated opposition. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama's legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us.

"Jeff Flake, in a Politico Magazine article, said that President was a carnival barker and had eroded conservatism".

Flake makes clear here that he is not blameless in all of this, attributing his slow waking-up to the dangers caused by Trump's actions in office to the fact that the mind tends to try to see what it wants to see.

Flake refused to endorse Trump during the 2016 election campaign and has been an outspoken critic of the president, though he voted in favor of the Trump-supported "skinny repeal" attempt to overturn Obamacare.

John Kasich: The Ohio governor was the highest-profile holdout on Trump during the 2016 election. But Flake voted to confirm Robert Lighthizer, Trump's nominee to be the United States Trade Representative.

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The NBC5 story and interview with the couple aired January 2015 , at the start of Polito's primary booking season. Andrew and Neely Moldovan accused Polito of "holding their photos hostage" following their 2014 wedding .

But there's no contradiction in saying that Flake's criticism of Trump isn't some kind of awe-inspiring profile in courage yet is still significant.

Flake did, however, end his piece with a number of suggestions for how Republicans should react to the events of the Trump presidency.

Flake is a fiscal conservative who opposes expansion of gun control and internet privacy. Even if he might not win too many converts right away, he could at least plant seeds of doubt that could grow over time. People will be willing to reach across the aisle and work out differences.

The relationship between President Trump and Senate Republicans has deteriorated so sharply in recent days that some are openly defying his directives, bringing long-simmering tensions to a boil as the GOP labors to reorient its stalled legislative agenda ...

"There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president's party", Flake writes.

In the meantime, some Republicans are already separating themselves from him, albeit in limited ways.

Instead, on Tuesday. Health committee chairman Lamar Alexander announced with ranking Democrat Patty Murray hearings to stabilize the individual insurance markets - the first real sign of bipartisan cooperation in this Congress.

Senators have stewed most recently - perhaps more than at any other point in Mr Trump's term - over his public disparaging of Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, a former senator from Alabama. Some of them criticized his decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military. I think we are facing a similar crisis now, as Republicans have taken up an unfamiliar banner. The GOP is still emphatically behind Trump, to its everlasting shame.

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