A GOP lawmaker is speaking out against both the president and Republican leaders, saying that anyone who thinks the state of things under the Trump administration is normal must be in “denial.”
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has written a book criticizing not only President Donald Trump’s lack of conservatism but also the lack of principles among GOP leaders titled Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.
Flake turned his attention to Republican leaders who haven’t fought for conservative policies and seem to be pretending the tumultuous White House has been business as usual the past six months.
“It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued,” he wrote in an excerpt of the book published by Politico.
Tuesday on radio, Glenn agreed but expressed skepticism that any politician can be trusted.
“I’m politician-agnostic now,” Glenn quipped.
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This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: And so where does this even fit? Have you seen the Jeff Flake — you know, my party is in denial about —
STU: Yeah, it’s amazing that, you know, this is — it’s an op-ed he wrote, which is actually a part of his book. Saying he’s in denial about Donald Trump — the party is in denial about Donald Trump. And he signed his name to it. There’s been a lot of these comments that have floated throughout the media since he was elected from unnamed officials. This is —
GLENN: Now, Jeff Flake. I’m trying to remember where we lost track of Jeff Flake. When Jeff Flake sold his soul.
STU: We were not a fan of his stance on one of the gun bills, I remember.
PAT: And immigration.
GLENN: And immigration. Yeah.
PAT: Terrible on both.
GLENN: Yeah, he was really, really great. And then he started selling his soul to the party.
STU: To be fair, he still is good on certain things.
GLENN: Is he?
STU: Spending, he was good on.
GLENN: Was he ever for Trump?
STU: I would say he’s —
STU: No, I would say he was more on the I’m not a fan of Trump side. He was more consistent on that. However, he was — you know, public officials, particularly senators taking public positions against the president is pretty notable. It’s not — it’s not as notable as if like one of his big allies came out and took him on. It’s — he’s definitely on the side — he’s not a fan of Trump’s.
GLENN: Our forbearers knew that keeping a republic meant, above all, keeping it safe from foreign transgressors. They all knew people could not live and work freely and develop national institutions conceived — conductive to freedom, except in peace with independents. So where should Republicans go from here?
First, we shouldn’t hesitate to speak out if the president plays to his base in ways that damage the Republican’s party ability to grow and speak to a larger audience.
So listen to that. I mean, he’s putting his — the party — second, Republicans need to take the long view when it comes to issue like free trade.
Populist and protectionist policies may play well out in the short-term, but they handicap the country in the long-term. Third, Republicans need to stand up for the institution and prerogatives like the Senate filibuster that served us well for more than two centuries.
We’ve taken our institutions conductive to freedom, as Goldwater put it, for granted. And we have to engage in one of the more reckless periods of politics in our history. In 2017, we seem to have lost our appreciation for just how hard-won and vulnerable those institutions are.
Well, it’s nice to have you to the party, Jeff.
STU: You seemed almost dismissive. I almost got a sense that that was dismissive.
GLENN: I’m so done — I’m so done — I’m really so done with all of the politicians. I mean, honestly, should we have any politician on here? I’m politician-agnostic now. With the exception of very, very few.
PAT: You’re not sure you believe they exist?
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.
GLENN: No, I’m unfortunately — I know they exist. I’m not sure how —
JEFFY: This is a struggle we’ve had for a while, right?
GLENN: I know they exist. I’m agnostic on how many good ones exist. I know one. I know Mike Lee. I would — I would swear by Mike Lee. But what does that mean?
STU: I mean, there’s certainly a few.
GLENN: Yeah, there are a few.
STU: There’s no doubt.
GLENN: And I like a few of them. But the only one I know personally really well I feel is Mike Lee. And unshakable.
STU: And he has been —
PAT: Ben Sasse. We don’t know him that well. But we know Ben Sasse.
GLENN: Ben Sasse? Yeah, I like Ben Sasse.
PAT: Like him a lot.
GLENN: I think there’s several of them.
JEFFY: Louie Gohmert.
GLENN: Yes. There’s several of them. I’m not throwing all of them out.
PAT: Hank Johnson. His concerns for Guam.
JEFFY: That goes without saying.
STU: Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
GLENN: Okay. You guys aren’t helping.
STU: But obviously there are some.
PAT: Yeah, there’s a few.
GLENN: There are many there, and I hate to abandon them. But I’m just so done. I’m just so done with them.
GLENN: Why would I stick my neck out for any of you? Why would I endorse or help or anything? Because I don’t know what you guys are going to do when you get in?
STU: You know, you’re never going to know that. People are flawed.
GLENN: I know. I know. I know.
STU: The problem here is, the second you take that attitude or all of us take that attitude —
GLENN: Then you’re done.
STU: — then there is an unrestrained move to the dark side.
STU: You have to have people who are at least standing up. And, you know, you get some things. And you lose a lot of them. You just hope to slow that roll a little bit towards the progressive side. That’s really all you can do. But we can’t — it’s like the Second Amendment. There was a time — because I’m not a gun guy. I didn’t grow up in gun culture by any means. Though I agree with the Second Amendment. And there was a time where I would hear some of the arguments, you know, made by gun advocates, and they were just — they seemed almost irrational to me. Like, they were — as a guy who has never dealt with guns. Like, why are you defending that kind of gun? Like, to me, on its face, without thinking about it deeply, it just kind of seems irrational. You’re just defending anything that has to do with guns.
STU: You have to defend anything that has to do with guns. Because the second you let them pass that barrier, they go to the next barrier. So you better stand up there and defend every single freaking thing.
PAT: That’s right.
STU: Because the second they get past that wall, they are onto the next one. And they’ll trample the next 50 walls past it. Wherever you set up your — you know, your defense is where they will stop for the time being.
STU: So you better set it up as aggressively as possible.