Jeff Flake

Everybody Hates Jeff Flake

3 reasons why the anti-Trump center-right is the most off-putting place to be in American politics...for now.


Last night Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the loudest GOP critic of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, invoked the I-word amidst speculation that Trump might fire Robert Mueller:

Then a funny thing happened: Both left and right crapped all over him.

Jeff Flake talks to reporters. And talks to reporters…. ||| ERIN SCHAFF/UPI/Newscom

"Stop begging. Pass a law," scoffed Tommy Vietor, former National Security Council spokesman in the Obama administration. "It's right there in the Federalist Papers," a sarcastic New Republic staffer Jeet Heer seconded. "Congress will be able to check the president by going on its hands and knees, begging for lawful behaviour."

Things weren't much friendlier on Team Red. "Sounds more like a Jeff Flake crisis than a constitutional crisis," snorted commentator Dan Bongino. At The American Spectator, Brandon J. Weichert placed Flake in the "chorus of consternation from so-called congressional conservatives."

This pattern, curious though it may be, is nothing new. Lefties have been giving Flake the (often inaccurate) too-little-too-late speech since before the 2016 election; conservatives have long called him an immigration softy angling pathetically for media applause. And in a state both passionate and schizophrenic about its politics, Flake has been strikingly unpopular since the beginning of his Senate career.

But there are commonalities, too, with the way people shudder instinctively at other NeverTrumper (or Unfitter) Republicans, including ones not otherwise particularly similar to Flake, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich. So is there a common thread of reaction knitting those two rumored 2020 candidates, along with 2016 fifth-place finisher Evan McMullin, plus Flake's fellow retiring Sen. Bob Corker and whoever else is fragging the president from the GOP big tent? I would suggest three:

1) Sanctimony is inherently off-putting.

As any quick tour through McMullin's Twitter feed will reconfirm, the distance between principled, same-party dissent and haughty, portentous flag-waving can be vanishingly short.

"These days," the Washington Examiner's Timothy P. Carney wrote last fall, "I find myself regularly wishing I could make McMullin go away. Like almost every McMullin voter I know, I'm embarrassed by his post-election behavior."

With his upturned eyebrows and Boy Scout earnestness, Flake draws MANY charges of sanctimoniousness.

2) The center has its own, hypocrisy-generating gravitational pulls.

John Kasich, standard-issue conservative, was a routine expander and defender of gun rights. John Kasich, inexplicable media darling, is now a talking head warning a "dysfunctional Congress" to "wake up" on gun control. It was only one month ago that the transforming pol scrubbed from his website the verbiage, "Gov. John R. Kasich continues to be a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and, as governor, has signed every pro-2nd amendment bill that has crossed his desk to defend this basic, constitutional right."

Flake, too, has changed his tune on guns, in a more mediagenic direction. He now regrets voting against the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in 2008. Such repositioning might well be heartfelt, but it also gets rewarded by one of the last repositories of Flake enthusiasm: the national media.

3) Those most passionate about Trump want you to pick a side NOW.

Ask late-night comedians how the ratings look in the center of the road. No, better to troll Mike Pence with children's books about gay bunny rabbits.

It's not enough for many Democrats that Jeff Flake urged Republicans not to vote for Trump after he'd already sewn up the nomination, or that he wrote a book against Trumpian conservatism in 2017, or that he wrote a check to Roy Moore's Democratic opponent in Alabama—he voted for the tax cut, man!

And for the pro-Trump brigades in conservative entertainment, Flake is now indistinguishable from Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer.

The center is not a fun or compelling place to be in American politics right now. There's a reason why many even diehard Libertarians shuddered at the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld formulation about a supposed six-lane highway down the center of the road. It can feel more cautious than principled, and does not resonate well in the emotional spaces where much of politics is consumed.

But like ideology, emotions in politics can change on a dime. Should the House and Senate switch back to Democratic control after November, there may be a renewed interest on the right in re-fighting the Battle for the Soul of the GOP. Jeff Flake may be hated now, but people might start returning his calls come December.

NEXT: Political Correctness Strikes Again: High School Teacher Fired for Offensive Comments About Troops

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Matt, I beseech you. Where are the links? I can’t handle this.

    1. Matt is known to be into S&M play.

        1. You can earn more than $15,000 each month from you home, and most special thing is much interesting that the job is to just check some websites and nothing else. Enjoy full time and money freedome, also an awesome career in you life…. just click the link given below look here more

    2. It was Ed Krayewski’s turn for links. Too bad Ed’s at home trying to decide what he can pawn and praying for a call-back from his application at the Penny Shopper

      1. Trumpty Dumpty, He’s quite off-the-wall,
        Trumpty Dumpty won’t stay in His toilet stall
        He just goes ahead and takes His shits,
        Totally regardless of whereever He sits
        Whenever He simply, no way, can sleep,
        He Twits us His thoughts, they’re all SOOO deep!
        He simply must, He MUST, Twit us His bird,
        No matter the words, however absurd!
        He sits and snorts His coke with a spoon,
        Then He brazenly shoots us His moon!
        They say He’ll be impeached by June,
        Man, oh man, June cannot come too soon!
        So He sits and jiggles His balls,
        Then He Twitters upon the walls
        “Some come here to sit and think,
        Some come here to shit and stink
        But I come here to scratch my balls,
        And read the writings on the walls
        Here I sit, My cheeks a-flexin’
        Giving birth to another Texan!
        Here I sit, on the pooper,
        Giving birth to another state trooper!
        He who writes these lines of wit,
        Wraps His Trump in little balls,
        He who reads these lines of wit,
        Eats those loser’s balls of shit!”

      2. I’ll give Ed twenty bucks to go beat up Robby for his lunch money. Then he would have twenty bucks, p,us Robby’s lunch money.

    3. Ask late-night comedians how the ratings look in the center of the road. No, better to troll Mike Pence with children’s books about gay bunny rabbits.

      The links for the first and second sentences are the same.

      His dedication is false. No true lover of links would make such a sophomoric mistake.

  2. Jeff Flake is not a Libertarian, seems to side with lefties, and votes for the bigger government. What’s to like?

      1. Maybe he and Robby can take turns running their hands through each other’s hair while gazing longingly at one another. Matt can watch.

    1. How much Matt Welch likes him?

    2. He’s a White Rino?

        1. The plan is to use stored sperm from several northern white rhino males, and eggs from the remaining younger females, and implant the embryo in a surrogate southern white rhino.

          Rhino IVF is a radically new procedure and could cost as much as $10m (?7.1m). It still gives conservationists hope that Najin and Fatu will be able to have their own calves one day.

          1. 10m to shove a turkey baster up a rhino’s hooha? Sound’s about right, jus sayin…

            1. By which you mean you’d pay someone 10m to do it.

            2. Better be careful. Those bitches (or whatever you call a female rhino) will decide they didn’t like it for $10M and offer to give the money back. All because Trump.

              1. Who needs $10M to do this job?!?! Trump will hump them (the rhinos, or anything else), and pay $130 K for the privilege!!!!

          2. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always white paint. You can paint a lot of black rhinos white for $10M.

        2. RINOsaurExtinction2018

    3. Hey Welch validated use of the word ‘lefty’ in his article, so there’s something for ya. It always throws me off when I see ‘lefty’ being used in a political context. I’ve always associated the term with left-handed or, more specifically, left-handed pitchers.

      1. It very handy when you need to describe all sorts of lefty political spectrum people and their shenanigans.

    4. Yes the phony libertarian. No friend of smaller government nor civil liberties. Now he is just spouting off trying to pretend he is relevant.

  3. Back when Welch ran the show there were always links.

    John Kasich, standard-issue conservative


  4. Authorities investigating claims teacher fed puppy to turtle

    Authorities are investigating reports a teacher fed a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in a rural Idaho town that was the setting for the teenage cult classic film “Napoleon Dynamite.”

    “I think people are disappointed, disappointed that the incident happened,” said Peterson, the police chief. “We don’t want that media attention. This is a small town that runs at its own pace.”

    At a turtle’s pace perhaps?

    1. Is this a thing? Different Tonys?

      Can I claim “Insufferable Douchebag Tony”

      1. You can, but “insufferable douchebag” already suffices.

      2. So, ALK can observe the obvious, like that he’s an insufferable douchebag. The real question is why ALK hasn’t made “Insufferable Douchebag” his screen name.

      3. Arty, aren’t you ant Tony besties?

        1. That was not me. I tend to attract mini-me’s among the autistic right-wing fringe. I guess masquerading as libertarians gives them the idea.

          1. “Masquerading as libertarians”

            Bold move, Artie.

    2. that was the setting for the teenage cult classic film “Napoleon Dynamite.

      I had heard this story, but not that it was the location of Napoleon Dynamite. I have to say, that is a very Napoleon Dynamite type story.

  5. Jeff Flake is a “centrist,” not some principled limited-government conservative.

    Raising the gun-buying age to 21 (except for 18-20 year olds in the military, of course)

    Wishing he could go back in time and support TARP

    Giving money to the Democrat in Alabama when there was an actual Libertarian Party candidate to whom he could have contributed.

    This all screams “media-friendly ‘centrist,'” not “principled, limited-government, anti-Trump conservative.”

    1. This is where I chime in and give my spiel.

      He used to be good, when he was a Representative from Mesa he was very principled and solid. Becoming a Senator really seemed to lower him. Which I think says a lot about the Senate.

      1. I am guessing he never was good, he was faking it because he found an underserved constituency. He has gone completely off the rails since realizing he was not going to get reelected, since he does not have to suck up to voters now, this is who he truly is.

        1. Just like George Herbert Walker Bush with his “conservative” persona circa 1964-1970. Although Flake is a weenie, its pretty hard to top 41 in that department.

        2. You nailed it about him being a faker.

          Though I don’t think this is who he is either. He just switched to playing the “centrist voice of reason” in the hopes of winning favor with the left, which apparently includes Welch now too. Benedict Arnold got a nice house in London, but I fear Flake will not get nearly that much from the left.

    2. Matt Welch thinks Jeff Flake is the second most “libertarian-leaning” Senator.

      Of course Matt Welch also thinks Hillary would’ve been a “less-worse” president than Donald J. Trump

    3. “This all screams “media-friendly ‘centrist,'” not “principled, limited-government, anti-Trump conservative.””

      Change ‘media friendly centrist’ to ‘desperate, unprincipled, narcissistic attention whore man child’ and I think you’re there.

  6. Gary/Will’s six lane highway down the center of the roa were bike lanes, intended to appeal to the very few voting on personality who didn’t like anyone else. They would have likely done better with at least a few principles. They would have at least gotten my vote. Though Weld learning (contrary) principles after so many decades in public office might still not have been the easiest sell.

    Flake is not a libertarian, is not a classical liberal (no, not the same thing), but is an elitist control freak who likes concentrated power just fine as long as guys he likes are in control. He just doesn’t happen to like Trump. His only redeeming quality is an inclination toward fiscal conservatism, but if he really cared about that he would not be trying to throw the government to the Dems.

    The thing is, there are different levels of political principles. There are the principles that impact only the political actors themselves, and then principles that affect all the rest of us governed. I prefer those who work to maximize our liberties even if they have to hold their own noses doing it, instead of sacrificing us to their vanity.

    1. So much for selling the proposition that “absence of bad principles” is a good principle.

      Not that bad of a deal, really, except just NOT voting for Clinton seemed somehow inadequate…

  7. Jeff Flake is an old school Woodrow Wilson-style progressive. He even named his son “N1ggerKiller

    1. It’s a post-post-modern world out there, the kid is marinated in so many levels of irony he doesn’t know if he’s being racist or not.

    2. His real name isn’t much better. I guess Burner Flake was already taken.

  8. Although Maxine Waters may not be scratching Flake’s scrotum, don’t be surprised if the JFK Library awards one of its phony Profile in Courage awards to Flake.

  9. …former National Security Council spokesman

    Matt, your unwokiness is intolerable. It’s, like, spokesdood. Or something.

  10. If Flake, or any other Republican senator, had really wanted to stop Trump, they would have voted against the tax reform/blow up the budget bill. Trump “failed” his voters by failing to overturn ObamaCare. If he had failed the donor class by not giving them their beloved corporate tax cut, he would have been significantly weakened. Instead, there’s proof that he can “govern” (also proof that Republicans really don’t give a damn about government spending). Flake, and McCain, and Corker, and Rand Paul, and Ben Sasser, and Tim Scott, and the broad from Maine–basically, the “Conscience Republicans”–all voted for a piece of shit bill, and they also voted to approve Jeff “Lock ’em Up” Sessions, whom I would call the worst attorney general in history if the competition weren’t so fierce. As Eugene McCarthy once said, “if you’re drowning fifteen feet from shore, a Republican moderate will throw you a ten-foot rope.” There is no health in them.

    1. “Trump “failed” his voters by failing to overturn ObamaCare.”

      Trump voters typically understand the difference between the President and the Senate. Do you?

  11. I like him, but the more he and Lindsay Graham blow their trumpets, the more it reminds me that the party is never gonna do anything about Trump.

    1. Tony, you may be many things, but you are not an insufferable douchebag like Arthur Kirkland.

      1. Eh, I fear the real distinction lies elsewhere. Most of us here are insufferable douchebags. It’s on our flag.

        1. BUCS, we very well may be, but Arthur Kirkland has developed a distinct, discrete, patentable type of insufferable douchebaggery.

          1. It’s why we need to clarify our language further. We need to plumb the depths of our ability to describe how much of a wanker this guy is.

            We need Agile Cyborg.

            1. Millions of stars, quasars and pulsars
              Millions of galaxies and dark matter
              But where will we find anyone quite as full of himself
              And with as little justification
              As Kirkland
              Except a flea with an erection
              Floating on his back down a river
              And shouting “raise the drawbridge!”

              1. That’s a thing of beauty.

                1. The last part of the poem was taken from a joke book, but I ACed it up a bit.

              2. That was wonderful, Eddie. We need more poems like that from you.

            2. Honestly, Kirkland is the conversational equivalent of a prolapsed rectum.

              1. Nah, I don’t feel compelled to look for more videos of him.

      2. I’ll try harder.

        1. Hey, Tony

          Was this site always a harbor for marginalized, disaffected, socially inept, bigoted wingnuts masquerading as libertarians, or is this a relatively recent affliction?

          Thank you.

          Rev. Arthur Kirkland
          Congregation Of Exalted Reason

  12. Well, I hope this column is good therapy for Matt Welch and maybe a few other Reason contributors.

    For my part, I sure wish it would warm up outside.

    1. Keep driving that SUV and using incandescent lightbulbs and it will, planet killer.

      1. Immolate yourself, EOA: it will be a net reduction of carbon emissions when extrapolated over just a decade of your continued breathing.

    2. Fantastic weather here in AZ.
      LOL at your snow and cold.

      1. Yeah, but you still have a problem with Flakes.

        1. Still better than McCain, and Grijalva.

          Man, I dislike Grijalva.

          1. I had to look him up. Wish I hadn’t.

            1. The Tucson Democrats used to have meetings at a restaurant I went to lunch pretty frequently. He would come talk.

              So I’ve personally seen him speak more than 10 times. Damned lefties, ruining my Kung Pao chicken.

              1. You know who else didn’t like Tucson Democrats…

  13. The sad part is that he’s still in the top 10 percent of US Senators.

        1. I’d be hard pressed to pick 3 but let’s start with all who disagree with flake here:

          Flake wants to:

          ? Ban bump stocks.
          ? Prevent those who are on the “no-fly list” from purchasing firearms.
          ? Raise the age to purchase a rifle from 18-years-old to 21.

          I’m putting Democrat Ron Wyden ahead of Flake as well.

          1. And I’m asking you for a top ten. I’m curious.

            1. A Top. 10.

              You got it.

  14. Mueller and the Deep State coup are the constitutional crisis.

    1. We need a special counsel to investigate Mueller.

  15. The left/right thing is played out. Has no real meaning anymore, except applied to very specific issues (abortion, 2A, which lobby gets welfare). Thus, “centrist” is a useless term. Here are actual oppositions that describe political perspectives:
    – collectivist vs individualist
    – elitist vs populist
    – globalist vs nationalist
    and most broadly
    – progressive vs enlightened
    Flake (and Maidan McCain, Kasich, Collins, etc) are Progressives, they just happen to have an R after their name. The majority of Rs are probably the same, but maybe to a lesser degree.
    They believe in totalitarian socialism, global rule of the “elite” over the people, and cronyism.
    F them and their uniparty filth

    1. The dividing lines are

      Education vs. ignorance

      Science vs. dogma

      Tolerance vs. bigotry

      Reason vs. superstition

      Inclusivity vs. insularity

      Modern, successful communities vs. can’t-keep-up rural stretches

      Progress vs. backwardness

      Strong liberal-libertarian universities vs. homeschooling and backwater religious schools

      Spoiler: The side that has shaped American progress for nearly a half-century will continue to prevail.

      1. You and your ilk are against every good thing you list. Every one of them. Your party should be disbanded by force and it’s leaders executed for treason. Just as you should be executed for treason.

      2. Jesus Christ, do you just have a folder of posts you copy and paste from or something? I’ve seen you post this exact nonsense at least twice before. Get a life (or at least some new talking points), PLEASE.

  16. What a flake.

  17. Jeff Flake is already running for president.

    That’s what’s going on. He’s been to New Hampshire and made all the right speeches in all the right places.

    He obviously intends to challenge Trump for the nomination in 2020, and he’s positioning himself as the Republican anti-Trump.

    That’s what’s going on.

    1. If that’s the case, then…


      1. He can’t even be competitive in the primary for his own Senate seat — hard to see how he could hope to be competitive in a national sense.

        1. Flake is a delusional idiot.

    2. His actions don’t make any sense for that goal. In addition to attacking Trump, he’s basically been telling conservatives to go fuck themselves on completely unrelated issues. It’s far more likely he’s virtue signalling for the left in the hopes that they will help him stay relevant post-2018, maybe give him a spot on an MSNBC show as a token Republican.

      1. God, that’s probably exactly what it is. Lord knows none of the so called conservatives CNN or MSNBC ever have on to be their tokens are actually real conservatives. They’re always the most RINO ass muthas they can find!

        1. Yep. Flake is about as conservative as Joe Scarborough. And they can both go fuck themselves.

      2. Flake seems to be poised to take the Arlen Specter road, which is proof of his stupidity: the left never forgives anyone for being a republican [at least at the ballot box]. If he thinks he can pull a party switch he’s out in the cold where absolutely nobody trusts him ever again. It will be entertaining to see him waddle off into the dustbin of history. Can he pull off such a feat? Not many are able to make an argument, circumvent it, then deflect whatever hedge was made and finally rebut parts of each phase of his confusion so that you can only arrive at one conclusion: wtf?

    3. But will he be as big of a whiny pussy as John Kasich? Maybe they should run together. The douche canoe ticket.

    4. That’s sad to see. it’s mighty unethical to launch a campaign with no ideas/no intent to serve: just a move to soak up campaign cash to his family, and ride off into the sunset. He’ll get his money though – PT Barnum was correct.

  18. Flake is a pussy, and Kasich is a total douchbag that needs to watch Fargo again.

    1. But who’s the dick and the asshole?

      1. Sometimes the sun goes ’round the moon,
        Sometimes the snow comes down in June,
        And sometimes pussies fuck assholes!!!

        (if’n ye see THAT, though, please send me a link!)

        1. Google ‘pegging’ and you can see far more than you’d care to.

  19. Flake was my representative before he became my Senator and received the political equivalent of a sex-change operation. He was for smaller government and lower taxes but shifted to McCain warmonger after he joined the Senate. Unlike his new mentor, however, Flake does not have even a phony POW record to tout before the voters.

    Flake’s position on immigration is libertarian but is political anathema to a party that dumped its Speaker (Eric Cantor) over the same issue in a primary election.

    1. “phony POW record”

      ?? There is a lot of shit you can say about McCain and a lot of it bad, but a phony POW record is not one of them. You ever find that Kenya birth certificate for Obama by the way?

      1. It wasn’t a war, so at most he was a ‘Prisoner of Police Action’.
        aka hostage

        But he’ll always be contemptible scum.

        1. +1 Songbird

      2. Yeah, yeah, he got shot down and spent some time in a POW camp, which was no picnic. Didn’t make him any Sargent York, but I wouldn’t want to have been in his shoes.

        Doesn’t change the fact that he’s a real rat-bastard who went on a crusade to end political freedom of speech, reportedly because when he ordered the NRA to pull an ad they were running in Arizona, they told him they’d do as they pleased, they had a 1st amendment right to run it. So he set out to prove them wrong.

        IMO, his “Bipartisan” Campaign Reform Act is one of the chief reasons the LP isn’t really a viable third party, just a joke. You better believe I blame him for that.

        And he didn’t even have the decency to retire and spend his declining months with his family. No, he wants to spend them doing maximum damage in the Senate. Spiteful bastard.

    2. I dislike McCain on all fronts as a senator – his service disgusts me. But his military service is where stop: being a POW is not a picnic, and might be the only thing that’s real about the man. They did break him (sadly), as evidenced by his prior musings about Mao in the senate. Was he trying to cuddle up to Elizabeth Warren? Don’t know/don’t care. The man is a menace as long as he holds office.

  20. People like Flake are exactly what ruined the country.

    He’s not a real conservative at all. It’s not that I have a great affinity for many of the social aspects, but he’s not even legit on the fiscal/small government side. If we’d had genuine conservatives fighting progressives in this country we’d have been 1000 times better off. They all come out talking the talk, so dumb people vote for them, then they never follow through. Voters in this country have shown they wanted real cuts to government for decades, and fake bastards like Flake came along and lied, and then screwed them.

    At least progressives are honest about most of the horrible things they want to do! They lie about plenty, but IMO not nearly as much as fake conservatives. I’d rather have Trump out there outright saying the good and bad things he is for or against versus people like Flake.

    1. Pretty concise and,hiss there.

      1. ‘Analysis’

        1. Then that was possibly the most creative & on-point autocorrect or speech recognition jobs I’ve ever seen!

      2. I think it’s about right anyway! The problem with American politics is that we haven’t had an actual conservative or small government party in this country for, what, like almost 100 years now! You can argue about who the last real small government president was, but I don’t think anybody can make a credible argument for anybody after WWII. Ike, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and II, they ALL increased the size/scope of government, and/or did nothing to roll anything back. That’s why we’ve been 1 step forward and 2 steps back this whole time. There’s simply been no real opposition, outside the grass roots, to larger and larger government.

  21. Sometimes the center is where people are just wrong about everything.

    1. Thanks, Bubba. Nice to see people can still think out there. You just hit the nail on the head as to why the GOP is stuck on stupid [in case anybody missed Romney’s faceplant in 2012]. The center itself can be dynamic and moving – which throws most bell curve analysis out of whack, as the consultants using it assume it never distorts or shifts. It’s how they always manage to adopt their “oppositions” positions over time, and is one factor in congress hovering near single digit approval numbers for some time now. Progs distort the curve, while the party of the stupid stays in flat earth territory assuming it is still shaped something like what existed during Eisenhower’s day. Chasing shadows is not a philosphy of governance.

  22. Flake is an imbecile, who should marry Lindsay Graham and run off to Tahiti, then disappear from public life. The constitutional crisis already happened, where the NSA and FBI were weaponized to serve the democrat party, and it’s wants/needs using taxpayer money, which is an unlawful appropriation and theft of services. Our government was formed to secure rights to the people, not a party. But what grabs my attention in all this special counsel mess is the overall structure of our legal system, as it exists to serve lawyers and not people. Two thoughts came to mind, the first being your “right to an attorney” – note you have no right to access the law itself if arrested, and in any police station USA even the police don’t have access; so you get to make a phone call in lieu of discovering the meaning/context of charges you might face. Both sides of an arrest may occur blind because of this in most cases. The second is the special counsel statute itself [28 CFR 600.3]: “An individual named as Special Counsel shall be a lawyer…” That may seem like common sense, but note what’s absent: being deemed competent. Mr. Mueller is a lawyer.

    1. Marry Graham? Pish posh! Flake is always a bridesmaid, and never a bride.

  23. Arizona: Oak Creek Canyon, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Chiricahua area, Canyon De Chelly, and on and on and we get John McCain and Jeff Flake. No justice.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.