Not exactly a profile in courage.
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake had a very important speech planned for this week. It was so important that he distributed excerpts to the media over the weekend and appeared on ABC News Sunday to build up interest in the speech.
The speech was mostly blah blah blah except for the one thing that garnered all the headlines Sunday.
That something special part of the speech was simple.
Because Trump used the phrase “enemy of the people” and calls the media Fake News:
TRUMP IS STALIN
Flake immediately was mocked and criticized, including by me Flake’s Law: The longer a #NeverTrump Republican keeps talking, the probability of a comparison of Trump to Stalin approaches one:
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake apparently believes that Donald Trump responding to a press that issues an unprecedented volume false news reports, considers its job to be to elect Democrats, and openly cheers for Trump to be removed from office, is just like Stalin, even though not a single reporter has been arrested or a single newspaper or media outlet shut, and Trump frequently has sit-down interviews and holds press conferences with the media….
In other news, tens of millions of victims of Stalinism could not be reached for comment on Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s comparison of Trump to Stalin. Because they were killed in the forced collectivization of the Ukraine, the forced deportation of entire nationalities like the Crimean Tatars, the enslavement of captive nations, the Gulag Archipelago system of prison camps, the Stalinist secret police purges of intellectuals, academics and anyone who criticized the regime, and other acts of repression that went far beyond calling the press names.
David Harsanyi at The Federalist was a little less snarky, In Every Way, Jeff Flake’s Trump-Stalin Comparison Is Absurd:
Though it’s uncouth and damaging for the president — or a candidate — to demonize Americans as the “enemy,” it isn’t exactly unique and it certainly isn’t analogous to a tyrant making similar threats. Pretending comments like this are Stalin-inspired, a comparison purposefully used to evoke the menace of authoritarianism and tyranny where none exists, is just another example of the unfortunate state of our political discourse.
Brent Bozell was less kind:
“I think it’s stunning. If this were anybody else saying this about the President of the United States, and I think he would be thrown out of his office…But this is a man, Jeff Flake, who is working overtime to curry favor with the national press corps that despise Donald Trump and they’re loving that he says it,” Bozell began.
He wasn’t done though, adding that Flake is not only “an intellectual” and “political fraud,” but someone who “stole the title of Conscience of a Conservative, the best-selling polemic in history and made it his own” despite having been “elected by the Tea Party and immediately stabbed them in the back.”
Now Flake is walking it back. In an interview with CNN:
Sen. Jeff Flake’s plans to give a speech criticizing President Donald Trump for attacking the media as the “enemy of the people” — a term used by brutal Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin — has generated new wave of attacks from the American right.
In a Monday afternoon appearance on CNN International, Flake, R-Ariz., backed off any suggestion that he was comparing Trump to Stalin, who was notorious for having political enemies killed or imprisoned in forced labor camps.
“I am in no way comparing President Trump to Joseph Stalin,” Flake told host Christiane Amanpour. “Joseph Stalin was a killer. Our president is not. But it just puzzles me as to why you’d use a phrase that is so loaded and that has such deeper meaning, the press being the enemy of the people.”
Flake said if Trump really was like Stalin “people like me would be in Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay) or worse.” But the president’s attacks on the press nonetheless have implications for journalists around the world.
“So there’s no comparison there to the man, but it just puzzles me as to why any American president would use a phrase so associated with someone like Joseph Stalin,” Flake added. “It just doesn’t comport, and it’s not good for any of us.”
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