Flake & McCain: Arizona’s Four Senators

First of all, hold on — Flake & McCain sounds like an awesome new TNT buddy-cop show that I would totally watch. And McCain is obviously the “maverick” bad cop who plays by his own rules.

But back to real life — while these Senators enjoy reinforcing their maverick, no-nonsense reputations with ‘tough talk’ towards President Trump, they also enjoy the luxury of not taking meaningful action to support any of the tough talk.

“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.” — Senator John McCain on Pres. Trump calling the press ‘the enemy of the people.’

“Dictator” is a pretty bold word to use to criticize a fellow Republican, especially the sitting president. But McCain is the guy who passed Trump-Moscow dossiers over to FBI Director James Comey. He’s being credited as the GOP’s leader of Trump dissent. He condemned the executive order as a step backwards in the war on terror. I have written positively about Sen. McCain recently, and I once voted for him (not for president).

So, McCain puts up a good fight in the media — he must have put up a fight in Washington then, right?

Oh. Turns out, he only opposed one of Trump’s nominees. Well then, it was surely the wildly unqualified and widely publicized Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education — a nominee who needed a historical tie-breaking Vice Presidential vote to gain her seat. Actually — DeVos’s family gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to McCain’s campaigns, so he (and Flake) both voted yea.

Then, you say, they must have voted against Rex Tillerson, or maybe Michael Flynn — those are both guys with questionable relationships with Moscow, and McCain has been loud and proud about his concerns regarding Russia and the Trump administration. However, McCain’s concerns about Russia were suddenly nowhere to be found as he voted to confirm both of them (only for Flynn later to resign… because of his questionable relationship with Russia). He’s doing his best to stay in the headlines, and in the good graces of a purple Arizona constituency — but he’s only talking a big game.

In fact, the only nominee McCain has voted against was the barely-covered budget chief Mick Mulvaney. And his reasons for opposing were because:

  1. As a member of the House in 2011, Mulvaney dared to vote to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
  2. He had introduced in 2013 an amendment to trim $3.5 billion from a military budget.

Neither of these reasons represent any of the concerns McCain has raised about the Trump administration. Which seems to show that his “concerns” are actually acts of pandering to a voting base he knows isn’t as pro-Trump as many GOP senators’ bases are.

Senator Jeff Flake runs his political career on being the anti-pork spending Congressman. He gets perfect marks from all the big fiscal conservatives and has built his reputation on being a small-government, no-nonsense guy with a level-headed view on immigration as an Arizona lifer, catapulting him into party prominence as a Senator.

Flake and McCain have both been advocates of humane immigration reform, both as members of the “Gang of Eight” who in 2013 passed an immigration reform bill providing undocumented immigrants already in the country a path to citizenship, among other provisions. They were also two of the loudest critics of President Trump’s failed executive order on immigration. Flake is also a member of the LDS faith and, like many other LDS politicians, holds a more compassionate stance on immigration than many of his GOP colleagues.

But that compassion didn’t translate to the Senate floor, as Flake & McCain both voted to confirm Jeff Sessions, a senator with a track record of hardline immigration policies and strong opposition to reform, as the Attorney General — the head of the Dept. of Justice.

DOJ includes the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which conducts immigration court proceedings, consequently helping sculpt how immigration law is carried out right through deportation decisions. — Victoria Macchi, VOA News

Flake and McCain get to be the rogue senators from a purple state who score points with independent voters (Arizona’s largest voting bloc) back home because they’re willing to criticize their own party in the media. But their records of action in Washington so far on Trump’s several questionable nominees, executive actions, and attacks on the free press show that they must not be that concerned about Trump’s potential for “dictatorship.” I repeat the question Adam Carolla used as a game segment on his old morning radio show:

Stupid, or liars?

The answer is pretty easy. Politicians don’t stay in office for decades for being stupid.


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