Top 10 Quotes From Senator Flake’s Trump Blistering Retirement Announcement.
On Tuesday, October 24th Republican Senator Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor to announce he is retiring from the Senate when his term ends in January 2019. His speech, while not directly naming Trump, was a strong attack on the President while making a call to the Republican Party to sober up. I urge everyone to read the full speech. It is a powerful warning and call to action. You can read the full speech HERE.
In the meantime, I present what I consider the best lines from an extraordinary speech.
“these offices that we hold are not ours to hold indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office. And there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.”
Flake started and ended his speech on this theme, that there are greater principles involved here than political expediency. A central message to his speech was a call to other Republican leaders to stand up against this President and the indecency, chaos, and divisiveness that has become the standard fare from the highest office in the land. Which brings me to one of another in such quotes.
“The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity.
I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.”
Senator Flake challenged the “new normal” of petty personal attacks and flagrant untruths, calling for us to not accept it as such.
“We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.”
Senator Flake went on to challenge Republican leaders to honor the values of this nation.
“the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women — none of us here is indispensable. Nor were even the great figures from history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape this country that we have inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career doesn’t mean much if we are complicit in undermining those values.”
Senator Flake addressed our increasingly “post-truth” society, with the routine, demagoguery and casual lies that have come to define the Trump Presidency.
“We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake.”
Flake rather directly rebutted the populism that is the core of Trump’s message and support.
“There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal — but mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.”
His attack on the President’s leadership was on point.
“When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes looking for somebody to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society . . . Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.”
Followed by an appeal to humanity.
“Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have also been at our most principled. And when we do well, the rest of the world also does well.”
Flake addressed Trump’s often shocking use of Twitter to conduct foreign policy.
“The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters — the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.”
Flake correctly admonishes Republicans for being hypocrites asking how they would regard similar behavior from a Democrat leader.
“what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency? Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats? Of course not, and we would be wrong if we did.”
That’s just a tasting of a full course of quotable quotes from Senator Flake’s speech. Once again, you can read the full speech HERE.
Some have mentioned Flake as a potential Presidential candidate. When I have heard him speak he has sounded principled and sensible. The nation would certainly be in better hands with him than it is now.
The only sure thing is another Trump Twitter tirade in response to this speech. I may update this post when that happens if only to contrast the maturity of thought involved.
Edit and Update: October 25th.
As predicted, Trump went on a Twitter tantrum in response to Senator Flake’s speech. The gist of it all was that Flake is a loser who quit because he would have lost reelection anyway and the true, deep love for Republican Senators is found in supposed standing ovations they gave Trump at a lunch meeting to discuss tax reform.
In contrast to Trump’s Twitter tantrum Flake followed up with a thought provoking editorial in the Washington Post. Let’s discuss both.
The President devoted a hat-trick of tweets attacking Senator Flake by name today. I’ll just repost them without comment because frankly their childish shallow minded banality speaks for itself.
Senator Flake’s Washington Post editorial was entitled simply . . . “Enough.” Like his speech yesterday it is worth every American reading it.
“Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness . . . Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Flake credits Welch for reawakening “the conscience of the country” saying “We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be. There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious.” Flake continues, listing some of evidence of this sickness and concluding simply “enough.”
“How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced?
How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off?
How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?
How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?
Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough.”
Senator Flake is right. “It’s time we all say: Enough.”