The flagrant disregard for truth and decency

Trump’s going to be blistering up the Twitter now, after Jeff Flake’s goodbye speech.

Senator Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who has tangled with President Trump for months, announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2018, declaring on the Senate floor that he “will no longer be complicit or silent” in the face of the president’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior.

Mr. Flake made his announcement in an extraordinary 17-minute speech in which he challenged not only the president but also his party’s leadership. He deplored the “casual undermining of our democratic ideals” and “the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency” that he said had become prevalent in American politics in the era of Mr. Trump.

Trump’s being president is as if Twitter trolls were president. Twitter trolls have been making personal attacks and flagrant disregard for truth and decency the social media norm for years, and now Trump is spreading that to the whole country. (They’re connected, too. Bannon is a troll, and Bannon’s boy wonder was Milo, who is definitely a troll.)

The announcement appeared to signal a moment of decision for the Republican Party. Last week, Senator John McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, spoke in Philadelphia, denouncing the “half-baked, spurious nationalism” that he saw overtaking American politics. Former President George W. Bush, in yet another speech, lamented: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism.”

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump had renewed his attacks on another critic in the Republican Party, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, saying he “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.” Mr. Corker, appearing more weary than angry, said the president “is debasing our country.”

But Mr. Flake, choosing the Senate floor for his fierce denunciation of the president, appeared to issue a direct challenge to his colleagues and his party.

Which they will ignore in favor of setting up three committees to investigate Hillary Clinton.

“It is often said that children are watching,” he said. “Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?’ What are we going to say?”

“I was busy investigating Hillary Clinton, and besides, shut up.”

“We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal,” Mr. Flake said. “They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.”

We know. We’re living it.

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