Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona-R, announced his retirement and delivered a rousing speech on the Senate floor Tuesday directed squarely at President Trump and his fellow Republicans who have failed to meet the challenge of lack of decency that is present in today’s political discourse. Quoting President Theodore Roosevelt, Flake said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by a president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public.” He finished his speech with a call to restoring respect and values among the politicians called to serve.
Jeff Flake is not the first or only Congressperson going against the grain lately. The ongoing feud between President Trump and Senator Bob Corker, Tennessee-R, continued via the usual path on Twitter and through the press. Trump attacked the senator’s tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in reaction to Corker’s #AlertTheDaycareStaff message that was a response to the President’s early morning tweet storm directed at Corker. Senator Corker went on to say Trump was debasing the United States with untruths and bullying during a press gathering. Like Jeff Flake, Corker is not seeking reelection for another term, and so appears to have loosened his restraint on speaking out publicly against Trump.
These two examples are the most recent and highest profile of Republicans declaring that something is wrong with the President. Adding to the signals being cast by John McCain, who has recently ratcheted up his rhetoric against Trumpism, Republicans appear to be looking for a path to enact their chosen policies while also distancing themselves from what they are increasingly realizing is a toxic political corner that they do not want to be caught in as elections begin to come over the horizon.