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Jeff Flake Announces Upcoming Retirement, Takes a Big Swing at Trump

Sen. Jeff Flake's book doesn't hold back on criticizing Trump.
Sen. Jeff Flake's book doesn't hold back on criticizing Trump.
Wikimedia Commons; Random House
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Everyone knows you're suppose to ignore a bully — they're all talk and no action, right? Well, if you're Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, the bully is your commander-in-chief, and you're up for re-election, you just call it quits and move on to a new playground.

Flake did as much today on the Senate floor, announcing that his seat will be open for the 2018 Senate race.

Donald Trump has been relentlessly berating Flake, both in person and on the Twittersphere, about how he is too weak. In return, Flake wrote a book almost entirely about how much he dislikes the Trump administration and its orange leader.

Flake has not been doing well in the polls against his female competitors, Republican Kelli Ward and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. But maybe he'll still run for something else.

In his surprise announcement and speech today, Flake followed fellow Republican Senator John McCain's lead in not-so-subtly attacking Trump under the guise of a passionate call to action speech.

Here are the highlights:

"It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end."
After listing a series of regrets from indecency of discourse to coarseness of leadership, and finally the compromise of moral authority (among others), Flake launched into his big theme of not being complicit with Trump-era politics.

"We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions"
Flake talked about personal attacks for a while, licking his wounds from months of being bad-mouthed by Trump. He cites "disregard for truth or decency" and "reckless provocations" as being distractions from serving the people they were elected to represent.

"We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal."
Bringing back the Schoolhouse Rock fundamentals of the checks and balances of the government seems to be a recurring theme for Republicans pushing back on Trump. Back in July, McCain told the floor, "Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal."

"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."
Flake has never been a fan of Trump's bold and brash approach to politics. Back in the primaries, he tweeted that Trump was wrong about how much party support he had and suggested he drop out of the race.

"Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough."
Addressing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Flake practically begged the Senate to stop adhering to "the new normal."

"I am aware that a segment of my party believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect."
A quick jab at party loyalists and his own critics. He said that taking a stand and not remaining silent was part of his duty and obligation.

"I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit."
And on that note, Flake is out. He announced he will not be running for re-election in 2018. McConnell and McCain both spoke favorably of Flake afterward and said they were sad to see him go.

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