Monday, October 01, 2018

Jim Geraghty is the Sucker


Geraghty, writing at National Review:

I suspect Flake thought he was doing the right thing by giving Kavanaugh a way to dispel the accusations against him, and also by taking away the biggest argument from the Democrats, that “we need an FBI investigation.” But he assumed what few other Republicans did, that these objections from Democrats were made in good faith. Jeff Flake is a sucker.

The sucker assumption isn't Flake's, it's Geraghty's. It's naive to assume that Flake assumed -- or thought he needed to assume -- anything at all about the Democrats, or that if he did make any such assumptions they were anything other than the obvious one: That, like the Republicans, the Democrats are throwing whatever elbows they can get bent in the right direction at any given moment, for the purpose of scoring political points.

Flake's leaving the US Senate -- walking out of the ring on his own rather than being carried out after an election defeat. So it kind of looks like he's got nothing to prove, no voters to satisfy, etc. Complete freedom to "do what he thinks is right." I suppose we could leave it at that.

But you know me. I'm cynical.

Not running for re-election to the US Senate doesn't mean he's stopped being a politician.

Speaking in March in (ahem) New Hampshire, he took a far from Shermanesque line: "It has not been in my plans to run for president, but I have not ruled it out." And even if he never runs for anything again, there are always possible future cabinet positions, think tank gigs, what have you.

So, here he is, sitting on the deciding Judiciary Committee vote on whether or not to recommend Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate for confirmation to the Supreme Court.

And, quite possibly, the deciding vote in the full Senate on that confirmation.

He throws Republicans a bone by advancing the confirmation to the full Senate.

He throws Democrats a bone by making it clear he'll vote no in the full Senate unless there's an FBI investigation.

Check out Flake's big bipartisanship on Brett!

And later this week he gets the spotlight again when he announces whether or not he finds the investigation and its conclusions satisfactory (and votes yes), or not (and votes no).

Either way he goes gives cover to two other wavering Republicans (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) to go the same way.

If he votes yes, he's back to being a Republican hero with his past anti-Trump transgressions forgotten.

If he votes no, he inherits the title of another (recently deceased) US Senator from Arizona: "Democrats' Favorite Republican."

Either of those will be politically useful, albeit in different ways and for different aspirations.

Just as an example, I happen to notice that he served as a Mormon missionary in South Africa and speaks Afrikaans.

The ambassadorship to South Africa seems to be vacant (Patrick Gaspard left in December 2016 and so far as I can tell the show there is now being run by a charge d'affaires, Jessye Lapenn) ...

If he votes yes on confirmation, perhaps President Trump suddenly notices the vacancy and Flake's qualifications for the position. If he votes no, then perhaps a Democrat elected in 2020 or 2024 decides that "Democrats' Favorite Republican" is the man to make the new administration look suitably bipartisan.

Or whatever. Flake's no sucker. He's playing politics. And he seems to be good at it.

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