Jeff Flake has gotten a free pass on his radical wingnuttery for years and it’s at least partly liberals’ fault

17 Sep 2012 10:29 pm
Posted by: Donna

Senate candidates Jeff Flake and Richard Carmona are running neck and neck in the latest poll, which is good news considering Flake was considered a shoo in only a few months ago. But honestly, Flake should be way behind Carmona, and part of the reason he isn’t is staring us in the mirror. Flake still enjoys a reputation for “moderate maverick” libertarianism and reasonableness among a lot of liberals in this state. I think part of it is liberals taking right wing noise makers at their word and believing the b.s. about Flake being a RINO but it’s also largely due to liberals projecting positive attributes onto Flake that he simply doesn’t have.

Let’s start with the most persistent myth liberals hold about Flake, which I’ve debunked on this blog in the past and will do again: That Jeff Flake is “good” on immigration. This belief, which I’m still hearing from some Democrats despite Flake’s recent hard right turn on the issue, is based on personal anecdotes – we visited him at his office to talk about the Dream act and he was so nice! – and Flake’s support for “comprehensive immigration reform” that had a guest worker program as its linchpin. But Flake has another, less-publicized, view on immigrants that liberals should find troubling. As far back as 2005 he has opposed birthright citizenship.

So put those two concepts together:

1. Jeff Flake supports, or used to support, a guest worker program.

2. Jeff Flake opposes granting US citizenship to children born to those guest workers.

What do you suppose the goal of someone who holds both those views simultaneously might be? If you say “a permanent underclass of powerless and disenfranchised laborers” you’re probably on the right track. “Good” on immigration? I don’t think so.

The other big mistake liberals (and moderates) make about Flake is that he is primarily driven by an objectivist limited government free market ethos. I hear versions of this all the time. “Well, he’s more of libertarian than a right wing Republican.” We are just supposed to accept that Flake is a very different, and somehow better, breed of Republican than Michele Bachmann or Todd Akin. But Jeff Flake votes identically to Bachmann and Akin, and also to his seatmate Trent Franks, who has a well-earned reputation as a wackadoodle. Unlike the immigration thing, where you can sort of see how some people got duped, why in hell is Flake continuing to get a special libertarian hall pass among Dems? He co-sponsored Akins’ “redefine rape” bill. He voted with the rest of the GOP caucus to let women die in the ER. He opposes gay marriage and is “not a fan”* of medical marijuana. What is libertarian about those positions? Sounds like he’s quite the statist authoritarian where your personal freedom is concerned. And when did we start liking libertarians so much anyway?

*Consistency. That’s another term I’ve heard some Democrats apply to Flake. Generally in these conversations Flake will be deemed “consistent” in conjunction with his being a “libertarian”, as if you should just assume those things go together. But how consistent has he been on immigration? He went from being the guest worker program guy making goo goo eyes at immigration activists when they lobbied him in DC to a full-throated “build the fence” nativist more recently. When the Todd Akins “legitimate rape” fiasco broke, Flake tweeted about how important it was for there to be rape and incest exceptions. Except that he also voted to redefine rape. (And favoring only rape and incest exceptions on abortion is NOT a moderate position anyway. It’s certainly not libertarian.) He’s been wobbly on weed as well. Flake embraced the Republican Liberty Caucus platform on drugs in 2000 and was given high ratings by NORML in 2006. Now he’s “not a fan” of medical MJ, which Arizona voters approved in 2010. So it’s pretty clear that the libertarian hall pass that Flake never should have gotten with liberals ought to be revoked, pronto.

I’ll have more tomorrow on why Flake’s amiable persona (barely) conceals some truly monstrous views.


  1. Comment by Timmys Cat on September 18, 2012 10:34 am

    Part of it I think is that Flake has been pretty much off the radar like Kyl used to be. He has an image of a small town local boy trying to uphold the vague and ever opportunistic Az conservative values.mantra like Kyl liked to seem to stand for..
    When you dig into both of their records they are neither vague nor small town in their radical right beliefs.
    To me Flake is another another heritage Republican ala Ben Quayle who has been groomed for promotion more for being a “one of us” Republican than their actual record.and accomplishments.
    The Cardon negative ads sure rattled the GOP establishment. Sure seemed to need to shut down the microscope rather more quickly than Flakes supposed shoe-in would warrant.

    I think part of the problem too is that Carmona is pretty unknown here.
    Will be a lot of fun if a light in the pants like Flake goes negative on a heavyweight creds monster like Carmona.
    The Dems are probably wetting their pants hoping Flake throws the first punch.

  2. Comment by Suzanne on September 18, 2012 10:35 am

    I agree with Flake on issues 1&2. Unfortunately, what anyone thinks about granting US citizenship to children born of foreign parents (by no means is it restricted to Mexican guest workers) is a mute subject until there is an amendment to the constitution. It seems, however, that if a ‘guest worker’ has a child while guest working, then the guest should take their child with them back to the homeland when the guest job no longer exists. It does not deprive the child of citizenship nor does it take away from the intent of a guest worker program.
    My real issue with Flake is his position on women’s health. I think that may be tomorrow’s subject.

  3. Comment by mike slater on September 18, 2012 12:21 pm

    I agree with Flake’s stance on illegal immigration, especially on not granting citizenship to children of illegals. If we don’t grant citizenship to children of diplomats from other countries why grant it to children of illegals?

    I intend to vote for Flake, Sheriff Joe and Trent Franks because of their stances on illegal immigration.

  4. Comment by Timmys Cat on September 18, 2012 2:43 pm


  5. Comment by Appleblossom on September 18, 2012 5:05 pm


    Diplomats are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Due to that, any child they give birth to would also not be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

    Unless you are proposing that the US abandon subjecting undocumented immigrants to the jurisdiction of the United States, then you also have to put up with any child born in the US being a citizen.

  6. Comment by mike slater on September 18, 2012 6:14 pm

    Apple, that’s the key to the 14th amendment. Illegals are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. They’re subject to the jurisdiction of their home country.

  7. Comment by AZgrrl on September 18, 2012 7:28 pm

    I’ve been watching Jeff Flake for a while now. He is a 5th generation Arizonan. Do you know what that means? Early Mormon immigrants to Arizona. Snowflake Arizona = Flake family. Jeff Flake is an establishment Republican and you can expect him to follow the party platform however it flips around. Most Americans today got their right to citizenship through the 14th Amendment applying to some of their ancestors, so let’s not be throwing out what made us great in the first place. I support a guest worker program – a _legal_ status, with rights and protections and requirements the rest of have to obey, like having a valid driver’s license and insurance. When you have a work visa to another country you don’t get to vote there so don’t worry about our guest workers voting somehow, either. And the Republican can by God get out of my womb. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one, but it’s completely hypocritical to simultaneously gut public programs like WIC and fight health care reforms, to slash education funding and put us back in last place in the country for the overall quality of our public education, and at the same time require every woman who happens to get pregnant, planned, willing, or otherwise, to attempt to bring the fetus to full term even if it’s risking her own life. Having a womb doesn’t automatically make me the baby vending machine of any man who thinks he has a right to other people’s bodies against their will.

  8. Comment by mike on October 10, 2012 8:26 pm

    why shouldn’t liberals oppose birthright citizenship? It’s a relic of a time when the country was far less populated and being a citizen didn’t bestow such expensive entitlements. It’s not like the federal government isn’t headed towards bankruptcy.

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