On the EDge: Flake and Corker aren’t heroes

Photo by Malchev iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

OPINION — Only cowards quit.

That’s why you will pardon me if I don’t pat Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., or Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on the back for their recent stands against the president.

Corker and Flake have decided that instead of hanging in there and slugging it out in what has become a moral battle for the soul of the traditional Republican Party that they would hang it up and not run when their terms expire next year.

Both men have been highly critical of the president.

“I couldn’t sleep at night having to embrace the president or condoning his behavior or being OK with some of his positions,” Flake said during an interview with The Washington Post. “I just couldn’t do it — it was never in the cards.”

Corker had issues with the president’s frequent departures from the truth.

“The president has great difficulty with the truth. On many issues,” Corker said during an interview with Time magazine.

“Unfortunately, I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue. Certainly people here are, because these things are provably untrue. I mean, they’re just factually incorrect and people know the difference. So I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does.”

The thing is, these two guys have been strong GOP loyalists, going as far as to side with the president on a number of issues, from his Supreme Court nominee to the current budget and tax legislation.

Their primary problem with the president lies in terms of his character.

But, unlike the lemmings in House and Senate majority leadership, they have chosen to speak up instead of giving him a pass.

Naturally, it cost them points with the president’s base of hardcore supporters dredged from the muck of a populist movement that has abandoned all dignity and grace and bathed itself in playground speech and unprovable mudslinging.

During the last campaign, both occupied that same sty, hurling insult and innuendo during one of the slimiest campaigns in U.S. history.

But, somewhere along the line, conscience overtook ambition and both began to speak out, something the president and all his men don’t take to kindly.

As expected, both men were mercilessly hammered in the Twitterverse. More importantly, the purse strings of the alt-right movement, pretty much under the Svengali-like spell of Steve Bannon and his legion of Breitbart troopers, began to tighten and the president was able to hurt them where the pain would be felt the most – in the pocketbook.

The alt-right controls a lot of money, money Republicans would love to see dropped into their campaigns as the fiscal imperatives of running a political campaign continue to run out of control and beyond the borders of decency.

And, of course, the president’s hardcore followers have gone into hand-to-hand mode against both Flake and Corker.

The attacks have been brutal, almost as unbelievable as those launched against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a genuine war hero, statesmanlike figure of the United States Senate and all-around straight-shooter who is, as we all know, sadly battling a particularly lethal strain of cancer.

Of course, little of that matters to the president’s base, which parroted his playground taunts when McCain dared to question him on health care reform even though he was equally in favor of a repeal-and-replace measure. McCain’s mistake, however, was that instead of trashing the existing Affordable Care Act just because it was a remnant of the Obama administration, he insisted that any replacement bill benefit the American public.

McCain was also not comfortable with further efforts to erase traces of the Obama presidency, whether through executive orders that have been overturned by the courts or legislation that has failed in the Senate, even though Republicans hold a clear majority.

It’s how the system is supposed to operate.

And, Flake and Corker, who have problems with the administration, should realize that by giving up the fight, they raise the odds of more alt-right puppets being ushered into office thanks to hefty campaign assistance from Bannon and his crew.

It has been suggested that Corker and Flake leave the GOP and either join the Democrat Party or run again as independents.

Neither would be satisfactory because, well, their politics are far too conservative for the Democrats and running as an independent means there is no political machine to help mount a campaign.

So, they will slink out of the Beltway, victims of a new political reality that threatens the Republican Party.

How awkward is it for the GOP?

Let’s put it this way, Mitt Romney would never be considered for a run at either the House or Senate if he decided to give it a go anywhere else but Utah. He represents traditional conservative ideologies and values and has been too critical of a president who acts as if he was guided by the overwhelming will of the people when he clearly is not.

We rarely have an overwhelming mandate in American politics, and there is nothing in this administration that approaches that. The popular vote was lost by several million and the Electoral College win was by a slim margin. There is no real power here, the flimsiest of all our administrations, which is why it is imperative to have questioning voices in Congress.

It is also vital that the Republican Party hold some connection with its traditional conservative roots.

We cannot exist simply as a nation of liberals or conservatives.

We need both sides.

We need dissonant voices.

Our system requires that debate and discussion, that give and take, that test.

That means we require voices that stand apart from the others, voices unafraid to differ, challenge, debate.

And, we need a dose of courage instead of political gamesmanship; courage in the form of elected officials who are willing to go down swinging rather than slinking off into the shadows.

The last thing we need right now?

Cowards who would rather throw in the towel than dig in to fight the good fight.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • John October 31, 2017 at 9:21 am

    The swamp is being drained and they were the weakest RINOs so they got flushed first. More will follow.

  • bikeandfish October 31, 2017 at 10:40 am

    There is a huge spectrum between coward and hero. Faced with the complexities of life there are plenty of rational, strategic and value-based reasons to not run for office again, ie “quit”. Saying it hurts the party is vastly different than assuming cowardice is the only reason for such a decision. The way opinion writers and pundits rush to such binaries does our citizenry little good.

  • commonsense November 1, 2017 at 8:04 am

    You can argue with Trump’s style but not his accomplishments. Ed’s reference to lies is interesting since BHO and Hillary kind of define dishonesty in public office.

    Flake sold himself to special interests and couldn’t reconcile those with the POTUS agendas. His fellow Senator McCain is facing a similar fate as are all mired in politics as usual.

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