Republican Senator Jeff Flake Rails Against Trump, but to What End? – New York Times
That is on Page 5. On Page 6, he notes that Trump is in the regular habit of destabilizing the American people, not just foreign leaders. On Page 29, he says the word “Orwellian” “seems quaint now, inadequate to our moment.” On Page 30, he denounces the “embrace of ‘alternative facts’ at the highest levels of American life,” adding that it “creates a state of confusion, dividing us along fissures of truth and falsity and keeping us in a kind of low-level dread.”
He also offers a shockingly astute insight into Trump’s modus operandi — and modus vivendi — during the presidential campaign. “Far from conservative,” Flake writes, “the president’s comportment was rather a study in the importance of conflict in reality television — that once you introduce conflict, you cannot de-escalate conflict. You must continually escalate.”
No wonder the senator wrote this book in secret. As a Republican member of Congress, he is declaring Trump a domestic and international menace. Other conservatives in the news media and strategist class have been saying just this for well over a year, of course, but they don’t depend on a radicalized base to keep their jobs. Flake is the first elected official to cross this particular rhetorical Rubicon, and he seems to be imploring his colleagues to follow. He offers a despairing, unsparing indictment of everyone in Congress who went along with Trump’s election.
“We pretended that the emperor wasn’t naked,” he writes. “Even worse: We checked our critical faculties at the door and pretended that the emperor was making sense.”
“Conscience of a Conservative” takes its title directly from Barry Goldwater’s 1960 manifesto. Like Goldwater — who was also a Republican senator from Arizona — Flake bemoans the crisis facing conservatives, and like Goldwater, he believes that conservatives have only themselves to blame.