Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, is disappearing faster than a ham sandwich on Oprah's nightstand.
After President Trump began targeting the junior senator, Flake promptly announced that he wouldn't seek re-election (polls at the time showed he might well get slaughtered in 2018). But Flake decided to go head-to-head with Trump, and the mainstream media swooned (just as they always have over Flake's colleague from Arizona, Sen. John McCain).
Then, Flake announced that he'd give a big speech on the Senate floor, comparing Trump's attacks on "fake news" to the tactics employed by Russian dictator Joseph Stalin (forget that Stalin's "Great Purge" left as many as 1.7 million dead; In Flake's mind, the two are twins).
But almost no one showed up to hear it in person — not even Democrats, who certainly would embrace the message. The Senate chamber was nearly empty throughout his speech. Only two senators, Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, attended the speech — greatly outnumbered by the press in the media area of the chamber.
"Jeff Flakey," as Trump calls him, went over the top in his 15-minute diatribe. "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," Flake said, citing a Twitter post by Trump in which the president called five news outlets "the enemy of the American people."
"So fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader," he said.
The White House fired back, with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders saying that Flake had visited Cuba this month for a trip in which he defended the communist regime. "He's the one who was recently defending an actually oppressive regime," Sanders said during a briefing on Wednesday. "He went to Cuba a few weeks ago and served as a mouthpiece for the oppressive Cuban government.
"He's not criticizing the president because he's against oppression," Sanders said. "He's criticizing the president because he has terrible poll numbers. And he is, I think, looking for some attention."
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also ripped Flake's speech. "Comparing the leader of the free world to murderous dictators is absurd," she tweeted. "You’ve gone too far."
"Sen. Flake, turn on the news. It’s wall-to-wall with biased coverage against @POTUS. He has every right to push back," she said.
Even some fulltime Trump haters didn't much like the speech. MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid let him have it with both barrels. "If Jeff Flake is our savior, why is he fleeing the battlefield and quitting the Senate, which he points out is there to check the president? I guess his heroism will be confined to fundraising for his 2020 bid, from the same plutocrats who juiced up Trump," she wrote on Twitter.
And she posted this:
And she shredded him with one other tweet:
But look for Flakey to become what McCain has always been to the MSM: A "maverick" who's off the reservation and will say horrible things about his fellow Republicans. That oughta' get him a lot of airtime on MSNBC and CNN.