Flake Goes to the Senate to Bash Trump, Then People Notice Who Was There

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Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has become such a RINO I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t taken to spending his time off the Senate floor wallowing in a pool of shallow mud to reduce his body temperature.

Flake very publicly announced he wasn’t running for another term because he can’t stand Donald Trump, although the fact that he had a snowball’s chance in Arizona of surviving the primary likely had something to do with it. He also wrote a book called “Conscience of a Conservative,” which not only ripped off Barry Goldwater’s polemical classic but seemingly had very little to do with conscience and almost nothing to do with conservatism.

Alas, all of that could only garner him so much attention. So, Flake decided to give a speech in front of an inquorate Senate in which he compared President Trump to murderous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and criticized the administration for using the term “fake news” — a two-word construct, by the way, which was introduced into the American lexicon by the liberal media and Democrats.

The speech received obsequious coverage in the press, with the predictable array of media outlets tacitly congratulating Flake for claiming that “the damage done by the sustained attack on the truth” by Trump “will not be confined to the president’s time in office.”

The whole thing was covered as if it were Marcus Antonius’ funeral address to the Roman citizenry. One would presume, from the coverage, that the stinging rebuke was delivered to an august, chastened upper chamber.

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One problem: it wasn’t. In fact, there was almost nobody there to witness the speech.

“Flake is delivering his speech against Trump fake news attacks to a nearly empty chamber,” Washington Post political correspondent Erica Werner wrote. “Only one senator – Durbin – and fewer than half-a-dozen reporters are present.”

Yes, that’s right. Probably less than a dozen people saw Flake deliver remarks condemning Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” when referring to biased media and saying that “it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies.”

Do you think Flake's speech was a stunt?

Aside from the demagogic fallacy of connecting Trump to Stalin through a four-word phrase (“Stalin wore a military uniform. You know who else wore one? Donald Trump when he was in military school!), there’s also the fact that this meaningless oration was the very definition of what Daniel J. Boorstin called a pseudo-event.

Who and what, you may ask? Boorstin was a media theorist who put forth the idea of the “pseudo-event” in his 1961 book, “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America.” He noted the rise of events that weren’t really events, but merely hype created by a feedback loop between notable individuals or entities and the media.

Boorstin gave the example of a hotel hosting a 30th anniversary celebration, which should be otherwise a non-event: “The celebration is held, photographs are taken, the occasion is widely reported, and the object is accomplished. Once the celebration has been held the celebration itself becomes evidence that the hotel really is a distinguished institution. The occasion actually gives the hotel the prestige to which it is pretending.”

In Flake’s case, he gave the speech, the photographs were taken, the transcript was widely disseminated, and the object was obviously accomplished.

The speech itself has become evidence that the speech was really an important event. No doubt Flake will earn himself yet another appearance on “The View,” where he will be congratulated by the panel (and himself) for his indomitable bravery. He’ll probably even jack up asking price for the the advance on his next book, “More Conscience of a Conservative-ish Guy Who Used to be in the Senate.”

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Yet, in the end, this was nothing more than shameless self-promotion from a man who has become very experienced at it over the past few years.

H/T BizPac Review

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal for four years.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal for four years. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture