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Sen. Jeff Flake’s flame-throwing polemic takes aim at Trump

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An excellent book review by James Hohmann of Sen. Jeff Flake’s new book:

James Hohmann is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post and the author of the Daily 202 newsletter.

Jeff Flake took Donald Trump’s attacks on Mexican and Muslim immigrants personally during the 2016 campaign. They were among the many reasons that the Republican senator from Arizona could not bear to vote for his party’s presidential nominee and why he’s now written a stinging anti-Trump polemic, even though it will make winning reelection next year more difficult.

The most newsworthy parts of Flake’s new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” are his frontal attacks on the president. He writes that the GOP’s “Faustian bargain” to embrace Trump as a way to advance its agenda has backfired by putting sacred institutions and the rule of law at risk. He refers to Trump as a carnival barker, expresses alarm about the president’s affection for authoritarian rulers and calls out his Republican colleagues in Congress as enablers.

But the book is at its most compelling when Flake shows how he developed the conservative worldview that would make Trump so anathema to him. It was his experience as a worker on his family’s ranch, as a Mormon missionary in Africa and as the executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, where he worked closely with his political hero, Barry Goldwater, in the years before he died.

The 54-year-old Flake often asks himself, “What would Goldwater do?” And he feels certain that the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, to whom Trump has often been compared, “would not be pleased or amused” by the president or the state of the conservative movement.

Flake’s faith is an important part of his narrative. In 1838, the governor of Missouri signed an “extermination” order that made it legal to kill anyone who belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His ancestors faced persecution as they moved west and settled in Arizona. The senator volunteers that his great-great-grandfather endured six months of hard labor in a Yuma prison for having a second wife. “When we say ‘No Muslims’ or ‘No Mexicans,’ we may as well say ‘No Mormons,’ ” Flake writes. “Because it is no different.”

To make the case against Trump’s travel ban, the senator recalls how two surgeons from predominantly Muslim countries saved his father-in-law’s life after a heart attack.

The weekend after Trump proposed his ban in December 2015 on Muslims entering the United States, Flake felt called to attend afternoon prayers at a mosque in Scottsdale so he could let the parishioners know that most Americans are not given to such intolerance. George W. Bush sent him a note the next day. “Thank you for your voice of reason in these unreasonable times,” the former president wrote.

But the unreasonable times continued. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2017 at 8:04 pm

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