Jeff Flake

Flake: 'This Is Not Grown-Up Leadership.' Trump: Flake's a 'Flake.'

The outgoing senator wants to require congressional approval for "national security" tariffs, while the low-polling president taunts Flake about his low poll numbers.


Yesterday, in advance of President Donald Trump's trip to Canada for what promises to be one the most diplomatically testy G7 summits in modern history, his biggest Republican critic in the Senate, Arizona's Jeff Flake, went after the president on the topic burning the ears of America's biggest allies: trade.

Flake yesterday also joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce a bill requiring congressional approval of any presidential tariff imposed in the name of national security, a flimsy justification Trump has been using to absurd lengths. From the senator's press release:

The staggering negative impact of the administration's proposed tariffs is already being felt by workers and businesses across the country. Congress ought to assert leadership in this situation and take away the matches the president seems intent on using to ignite a dangerous trade war. I encourage my colleagues to promptly pass this legislation and push back against ill-conceived protectionist measures.

Before Flake could deliver today's lecture, Trump took to Twitter for some taunting:

The president is right about both the spelling and capitalization of the senator's last name, and I can testify after attending a fundraiser for Flake six days before he announced he wouldn't be running for re-election that there are some people who question the senator's reliability vis-à-vis future commitments. What's more, Trump is right about Flake's polls being very low—his approval rating was at 18 percent when he peaced out last October, although it has climbed back up to 32 percent since then. (Flake's approval/disapproval split, negative 18, was tied for worst in the first quarter of this year with Mitch McConnell's.)

It is also true that the presidential pacesetter for record low polling numbers in a first term remains Donald J. Trump, even after some modest recent gains. Gallup has Trump these days at 41 percent, close to but still lower than Jimmy Carter in early June 1978 (44 percent), Ronald Reagan in 1982 (45 percent), Bill Clinton in 1994 (46 percent), and Barack Obama in 2010 (47 percent). For the vast majority of his presidency, Trump's approval rating, when charted against those of his comparable predecessors, has been the floor.

What's more, as Gallup recently noted, "The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of the job Trump is doing is one of the highest for any president in the history of the Gallup 'strongly' question, which has been asked 82 times at irregular intervals." Trump registered a 41 percent "strongly disapprove" rating both times Gallup asked the question (in February 2017 and May 2018), while the share of respondents who strongly approved of his job performance dropped slightly, from 27 percent to 26 percent. According to Gallup, "only two presidents have had higher strong disapproval ratings": George W. Bush and Richard Nixon, both during their second terms.

Yes we can! ||| Reason

Trump's polling softness may help explain why he's choosing to tweak Flake, rather than merely scraping him off the #MAGA windshield. The senator, who tried to rally Republicans against Trump long after the latter had secured the GOP nomination in 2016 and then targeted Trumpism in his 2017 bestseller Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, is making noises about challenging Trump in the 2020 Republican presidential primary.

"It's not in my plans," he told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on May 27. "But I've not ruled anything out. I do hope that somebody runs on the Republican side other than the president—if nothing else, simply to remind Republicans what conservatism is. And what Republicans have traditionally stood for."

If the national state of affairs remains largely as is between now and then, I would expect Flake—or (God help us) John Kasich, or (Lord have mercy on our miserable souls) Bill Kristol—to get creamed in a GOP primary. But one persistent feature of modern politics is that nothing stays stable for long. To state the obvious, Donald Trump wouldn't be president otherwise. So far 38 percent of Republicans tell pollsters that they want Trump to face a challenger in the 2020 primaries. As FiveThirtyEight pointed out in a useful explainer, that's pretty similar to Barack Obama's numbers among Democrats in 2010.

Still, we don't know what (if anything) the Robert Mueller investigation will turn up, how Congress will respond, how the composition of Congress will change this fall, or how the mercurial president will react to it all, let alone how the political context would change if, say, the economy turned sour or some unforeseen calamity occurred on the world stage. Maybe Mark Cuban throws his billions into the ring, maybe Justin Amash decides to go full Libertarian, maybe the L.P. finally vaults itself permanently into the double digits, maybe the Bernie-Hillary war becomes a full-fledged fracture on the left. America is just too weird right now to predict.

In the meantime, I'm glad there's a person on Team R objecting loudly to the party's recent conversion to mercantilism. If major-party ideologies are up for grabs right now, I want at least some people inside the tents fighting for economic sanity.

Speaking of which, here's Flake's speech today, in which he explains that "a trade war only guarantees that there will be losers" and complains that "this is not grown-up leadership":

NEXT: Bureaucrats Shut Down Your Kids' Lemonade Stands? Country Time Will Pay the Fines.

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  1. Flake is right that the President shouldn’t have that much authority on tariffs.

    Trump is right that Flake is a flake and a fucking moron.

    At least Welch fought the urge to call Flake “libertarian-leaning”

    1. “At least Welch fought the urge to call Flake “libertarian-leaning”

      Seriously. There is nothing more stupid than praising elected officials just because they don’t like Trump. “I don’t like Trump” doesn’t automatically mean that that person has good policy positions.

      I also would like to know why these new tariffs have suddenly convinced Flake that tariffs are bad, but not the ones of the last two presidents. This is good policy. But, it’s real purpose is performative theater for an adversarial press.

      Just like McCain suddenly determining that the War in Iraq was wrong. Real convenient after he literally supported every hypothetical war since Iraq until just minutes before he wrote that garbage book.

      1. Yep. Plus, much as I hate the tarriffs blah blah blah, I have to admit Trump is funny a shit sometimes.

        1. Very funny, much like Cousin Eddie of Vegas Vacation had he lucked into a huge inheritance.

          1. “Very funny, much like Cousin Eddie of Vegas Vacation had he lucked into a huge inheritance.”

            Your envy is obvious.

          2. Arty, you are such a weak primitive creature. It must really bother you that Trump has intelligence superior to yours. Of course, that isn’t setting the bar very high.

      2. To be fair, Welch and other Reasoners were praising Flake long before President Trump was even a glimmer in our eyes.

        1. Flake did once try to set a good example for the rest of Congress by exiling himself to a desert island, but unfortunately nobody else followed his lead.

          1. Didn’t Chris Christie follow suit and exile himself to a dessert island?

            1. Maybe the dessert island at the all you can eat buffet.

              1. You give a bad name to shitlords. But glad you got the joke eventually…

                1. ???????

                  I got the joke immediately. Despite my poor typing I am an excellent speller, and have an eye for things like desert vs. dessert.

    2. “I agree with Flake on the merits, but I won’t let that stop me doing some tribal signaling.”

      1. That’s quite the secret decoder ring you have.

      2. You have become the king of straw men arguments.

        Can you explain to me what makes Flake “libertarian leaning”? Was it his vote for the War in Iraq? Or his votes for the Patriot Act? I bet its his vote for a federal marriage amendment that won him support with you, right?

      3. “I confuse simple clarification statements as negative because it conforms to my worldview. As my ego is far to fragile to contemplate my assumptions may be the problem. “

      4. Here’s my virtue signaling: I’m utterly unimpressed with politicians who only “grow a pair” after they decide not to run for reelection.

        You know what doing that means? “I was lying to you stupid voters all along, but now that I don’t need you anymore, I’m going to stop doing what I said I’d to in order to get your votes, and become something you wouldn’t have voted for!”

        It’s just a kind of bait and switch, nothing particularly admirable.

    3. Somebody has to cry out in the wilderness and hold the Trump administration accountable. No one else is!

      1. All Hail to THE Pussy Grabber in Chief!!!

        I fundamentally think that a huge percentage of Trump voters (who bothered to study up in the slightest) voted for a Pussy-Grabber in Chief who would pussy-grab for them, on behalf of them and theirs! If PGC (Pussy-Grabber in Chief) could pussy-grab the people whose loans he defaulted on, people who’d been ripped off by his “school”, and illegal humans who’d worked on building his buildings, and on and on, then SURELY the PGC can grab some pussy for us selfish, short-sighted voters! We can pussy-grab our international trade partners, and other nations, races, and creeds in general!

        These voters simply cannot or will not recognize the central illusion of politics? You can pussy-grab all of the people some of the time, and you can pussy-grab some of the people all of the time, but you cannot pussy-grab all of the people all of the time! Sooner or later, karma catches up, and the others will pussy-grab you right back!

        1. Do you have some kind of point?

        2. Could we be more fixated on female genitalia?

    4. Flake is desperately trying to remain relevant. The voters already have told them he is not. He is leaving because not only did he have zero chance of reelection but it would have been a humiliating loss for the phony.

  2. The one thing Flake could have done that actually would have injured Trump is to vote against the tax cut bill. If Flake and a couple of other Republicans had taken a stand, Trump would have taken a serious hit, and the donor class would be pissed at Trump. So far, the “conscience Republicans” bravely announce that they’re quitting and then say something (on occasion) but do nothing.

    1. I know this sounds weird, but some people honestly believe that tax cuts are good for the economy. Especially corporate tax cuts. Libertarians use to be some of those people. But, I guess #resist takes precedent over logic and basic economic fundamentals

      1. It’s Alan Vanneman.

        I’m just saying.

        1. No, your’re Red Tony. He’s I’m Just Say’n.

          This is so confusing. You’re probably all socks for Dave Weigel anyway.

          1. Oops. Strike I’m. I can’t even snark correctly.

      2. Corporate tax cuts are going to be bad in the long run.

        The economy got a shot of adrenalin as the profits come home from overseas, but rather than using that opportunity to wean the country off easy money and government spending, they’re doubling down on the largesse. In a couple of years we’ll have lower revenue and higher spending.

        And for the people who say corporate taxes are just disguised individual taxes, that’s incorrect. Individuals don’t have to spend all their income on corporate products. Maybe they’re saving some of their money (the horror!) or spending it on non-corporate products.

        Corporations are creatures of the state and deserve no revere from libertarians. Early libertarians like Spooner recognized this, but somewhere along the line the corporatists corrupted us.

        1. Corporate taxes are nothing more than a liability in vusiness tax sheets. They are pass through taxes to consumers. Price of goods offsets all corporate taxes. Go educate yourself and look at a balance sheet some time.

          1. He won’t. Most people down understand that shit anyway. Unless they’re either an accountant, finance professional, or an entrepreneur. Which is in the minority.

        2. That is why the U.S. under the Obama administration had the highest corporate tax rates in the OECD and corporations were fleeing.

      3. The Bernie bros that venture here are gonna blow their minds when they find out their socialist Paradise in the Netherlands has a lower corporate rate than we do.

      4. The Bernie bros that venture here are gonna blow their minds when they find out their socialist Paradise in the Netherlands has a lower corporate rate than we do.

    2. @Alan Vanneman Are you really this fucking stupid, or did you come out the wrong end of your mother? Maybe out of her ass? Have you not seen the employment numbers, you fucking moron? “Tax cuts bad DERP DERP” you fucking retard, I bet if gravity contradicted your insane leftism you’d deny gravity existed.

    3. Since when is Trump beholden to the donor class? He beat Hillary with a combination of grassroots donations and some of his own money. He stayed away from those pricks so they wouldn’t own him.

  3. Wasn’t Flake one of the first to roll over in the Freedom Caucus when Trump started throwing his weight around? I might be misremembering, though.

    1. Freedom Caucus is in the House. Flake’s a Senator, so no.

      1. Yeah, derp. Methinks I was thinking of Amash but it’s already down my memory hole it seems.

  4. They are all assholes. Don’t re-elect anybody.

    1. Oh hey! A fellow Assholetarian!

    2. This guy’s got the right idea.

    3. Or only elect people who admit to being assholes:

      “Cynical Asshole 2020: Because Everyone is Shitty”

  5. “The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of the job Trump is doing is one of the highest for any president in the history of the Gallup ‘strongly’ question…”

    Yeah, that’s what they’re measuring. ?_?

    BTW, does anybody believe that a hypothetical libertarian dream president woudn’t shoot to the top of that list?

    1. My opinion on approval ratings

      Most people are assholes, idiots, or both ( I count myself among the assholes, ymmv) so you’re asking assholes/idiots what they think.

      That’s about all it is worth.

      1. Yep. It’s a popularity contest, nothing more. It’s certainly relevant – because that is how people vote. But the author is reading way too much into it.

      2. Are you saying that President Trump’s fixation on the polls is misguided? LOL – like anybody cares what a loser like you thinks. President Trump’s a lot smarter and a lot more successful than you are, the guy’s like twice your age and can still get porn star poontang, and if he says the polls matter A LOT, I’m more inclined to believe him than you, I’ll tell you that much. Get back to us with your worthless opinions when you’ve made tens of billions of dollars, started dozens of successful companies and a university, written multiple best-selling books, produced and starred in one of the most successful TV shows in the history of television, been elected President on your first try with no previous political experience – done even a small fraction of what the most talented individual on the face of the Earth, the most successful man in history, President Donald J. Trump has accomplished. Until then, how about you keep your loser mouth shut and stop hating on President Trump just because he’s so much better than you?

        1. This is some top notch sarcasm! I am impressed.

          1. It’s going to take some work to make that fit into Twitter’s character limits though…

    2. Oh, come now. You don’t think that people are carefully considering his actual actions and giving a measured assessment of his tenure so far when asked if they approve or disapprove? So cynical.

    3. “”The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of the job Trump is doing is one of the highest for any president in the history of the Gallup ‘strongly’ question…””

      All that happened is that the Democrats decided they were going to hate with a white hot fury anybody with an “R” after their name, that’s all. It isn’t a commentary on Trump’s job performance, just on the fact that he isn’t a Democrat.

      He’s got a perfectly ordinary approval level among Republicans, not sky high, not dismal, and a 5% approval level among Democrats. Nothing he could possibly do, with maybe the exception of sepaku on live TV, could get his approval level much above 50%, because about half the population are going to say he’s doing a terrible job no matter what he does.

      1. Trump is also getting non-stop negative coverage from the leftist democrats who call themselves journalists. Most negative press coverage ever. Trump exposing the far left wing bias is absolutely great.

    4. Trump is the most libertarian president…evah.

  6. “The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of the job Trump is doing is one of the highest for any president in the history of the Gallup ‘strongly’ question, which has been asked 82 times at irregular intervals.”

    Define the parts they don’t like. Is it because he calls people ‘flake”? That he’s mean or Tweets too much? That he trolled Justin about the War of 1812 (a war I doubt Justin read about himself)? What exactly they disapprove of? That he’s a white supremacist?

    That he got the two Koreas to talk? That unemployment is at 3.8%? That black unemployment is down? That growth is at 3%? That he signed a ‘right to try’ to live? That he pardoned a woman as part of a prison reform concession? That he’s forcing Europe to mature on NATO? That he enacted tax reform and gave tax cuts? That he slashed corporate tax rates? That he hasn’t attacked the 2A yet? That he’s holding talks on immigration reform? That he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords and tore up the Iran deal as proper given Obama didn’t go through Congress?

    Okay. He’s a protectionist. That’s not good but this thing we have to magnify every little bad thing as if he’s literally Hitler is tiresome.

    1. You don’t understand how polls work, do you?

      1. Well, I was never much of a dancer.

        Wait a second….

    2. Why are you giving Trump credit for (a) things that are only marginally under his control (unemployment rate), and/or (b) things that you would never give Obama credit for?

      1. It’s still worth remembering that the unemployment numbers being used are literally a misrepresentation of unemployment. The numbers cited are a farce.

        1. What do you mean it’s a farce?

          If anything I overshot the GDP. It did hit 3% but it’s back down to 2.2%

          And I do think market fundamentals aren’t that strong.

          1. I mean that if they used a better measure of unemployment, that literally already exists, it would be more honest but it’s not politically expedient to include transfer payment recipients and workforce participation rate because then it doesn’t look as great.

            The Trump administration merely continues the trend of blatantly lying about unemployment.

            1. Ah. Got it.

          2. What do you mean it’s a farce?

            U-6 vs. U-3

            When you’re talking immigration reform, gig economy, etc. It’s more relevant to count unemployed seasonal workers as unemployed.

            1. Good goddamn! Apparently this tab didn’t refresh when I thought it did.

      2. (a) No president should really be praised or attacked for the totality of economic performance, although this is a double edged sword. No doubt Trump’s tariffs are bad economic policy, as is mentioned here, but then, if you say that, then you have to credit his administration for reducing regulation and signing corporate tax reform.

        (b) People should have praised Obama for his attempts to reduce our Middle Eastern presence at the beginning of his administration. Although, that completely crapped out when he further involved the US more in the Middle East shortly after the Arab Spring.

        Ending the Paris Climate Change agreement is an indisputable good. He deserves credit for doing that, because I doubt that any other Republican presidential nominee would have done that considering all of the backlash he would have received from a media more concerned with preserving Obama’s legacy than discussing actual policy.

        1. I highlight those – and I agree giving too much credit or blame for stock markets/economy is a dicey game – because they’re still positives and don’t square with the hysterics around ‘Trumpolini’. Who knows why the economy seemed to improve? He cut back, for example, some of Obama’s onerous green policies it could be argued.

      3. Obama doesn’t need credit from me since I don’t matter. He gets plenty of it from sycophants, groupies and teenie boppers as it is.

      4. I give credit for employment…in the service industry.

        Noticed manufacturing jobs numbers under Obama vs Trump?

    3. Okay. He’s a protectionist.

    4. “That he’s forcing Europe to mature on NATO?”

      Do not think this is happening. Europeans are unwilling to spend to secure their own defenses because they know ultimately Americans like to bomb people and meddle in shit that is not their problem which gets Germany and France and the UK off the hook.

      1. I dunno. Those countries end up with all the migrants and refugees. Not exactly getting off scot-free.

  7. Flake is correct on this topic.

    Flake doesn’t have the political credibility to deliver the message.

  8. “Low-Polling President Trump” has a nice ring to it. I’ve seen Flake, he has bigger hands and a lower BMI than Trump. I have no doubt whatsoever that if Flake were elected President, he’d be the healthiest individual ever to hold the office. No doubt his inaugural audience would be the largest ever assembled, too. And aren’t these the things that matter most?

  9. “Now that this isn’t working out for me, I’m going to give you all a big FU on the way out the door, to see how often I can get on the news.”

  10. We trust polls now? LOL

    1. Exactly. All those polls that had Hildebeast winning are now saying Trump’s poll numbers are off.

  11. Trump’s polling softness

    You’re saying he has a soft pole? I really don’t want to know that.

  12. maybe the L.P. finally vaults itself permanently into the double digits…

    Just to be clear, we’re talking membership numbers, right?

    1. Hahaha burnnnnnn

  13. “his biggest Republican critic in the Senate, Arizona’s Jeff Flake”

    FakeNews gonna fake news
    Flake is a RINOsaur, and they’re quickly going extinct.

    He’ll *openly* be a Dem by 2020, along with the other Never Trumpers.

    Anti Democratic Globalists to the Left
    Self Government Nationalist Populists to the Right

    1. Also, John McCain is bigger.

  14. Of course, Welchie omits from his discussion of the Gallup article that Obama got 39% strong disapproval in 2014.

    As for Flake’s improving numbers, those no doubt come as a result of his recent virtue-signalling to win favor with leftists.

  15. If people will just take a breath and relax for a moment or two Trump is not trying to start a trade war. This is just the first challenge to the existing trade agreement. Now if the other nations wants a trade war they can get it but if they want to work this out for the better of both countries they can also work that out also. The US has gotten the short end of the stick on tariffs since the 1950s or 1960s. No nation can continue to exist in the position that has and is in every since the end of WW2 without having at least some of these heavy industries. That is unless that you think there will never be a war again!

  16. Trump’s poll numbers aren’t horrible. Can any of you imagine how much better they would be if nearly 100% of the media weren’t goddamn communist traitors obsessed with destroying him no matter how much they have to lie?

  17. Flake is right that the President shouldn’t have that much authority on tariffs.

    Trump is right that Flake is a flake and a fucking moron.

    At least Welch fought the urge to call Flake “libertarian-leaning”

  18. Don’t like Trump’s move on tariffs but someone tell the phony libertarian Flake to just go away.

  19. I hope all will be fine. News like this one gives me a job. I’m freelance writer and write for a lot of my materials.

  20. “Reason” is turning into a fucking joke. Running cover for the leftards, Jeff Flake isn’t a fucking libertarian, he is a fucking RINO, big government, piece of shit and “Reason” your being dishonest and quoting media polls that have no relation to reality, Trump is at 49 percent. Seriously, stop trying to appeal to the regressives, all they want to do is bury people like me and you. I am starting to wonder if I should just mark “Reason” as junk mail. I am almost at that point, I’ll stick to and thank you very much.

    1. Trump is at 49 percent


      1. The Hill had an article on it. The polling data is from Rasmussen.

  21. Mat Welsh, your remarkable hostility to President Trump is unremitting.

    Flake, as a never-Trumper, is obviously a member of the swamp, and the Uniparty. Since when do libertarians offer such egregious support to the swamp and the Uniparty? You seem to have decided the perfect is the (hostile and unremitting) enemy of the good.

  22. You demonstrate your unrelenting bias by speciously sneering “the low-polling president.”

    Yet Fox news reports that: “President Trump’s job approval rating has risen to 44 percent in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll ? a 4-point rise from April and the same rating as former Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan at this point in their presidencies.”


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