NYT critic pens scathing retraction of glowing Jeff Flake book review: ‘Class act with a faint heart’ that couldn’t even convince Flake
A New York Times literary critic issued a scathing retraction of her initially “kind” review of Sen. Jeff Flake’s book given the Arizona Republican’s record on Donald Trump.
“There are almost no reviews I’d take back,” columnist Jennifer Senior wrote — except of Flake’s 2017 memoir, Conscience of a Conservative.
Senior noted that although “Flake has always been a class act,” having “good manners” cannot be the only criteria for heroes in the Trump era.
The critic noted that when his book came out in 2017, she praised him for “establishing himself as the first Republican senator to call President Trump the domestic and international menace that he is.”
“I said that Flake’s book had rhetorical power,” Senior wrote. “But looking back on it, it didn’t.”
“Jeff Flake’s book couldn’t even convince Jeff Flake,” she added. “As of this writing, he has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time.”
The writer wondered: if Flake truly believed that Trump “posed a genuine threat to democracy,” why did he go along in near-lockstep with him and the rest of the GOP?
“In my initial review, I did note that Flake’s words wouldn’t be worth much if they weren’t matched by deeds,” Senior noted.
“He wrote of the despair he was feeling beneath the lacquered smile,” she added. “But Flake, as a sitting senator, has been in the position to do more than despair. He has been in the position to swallow his misgivings about policy and align himself with the opposition. He could have waged guerrilla warfare against Trump’s agenda at decisive moments.”
In the year since the senator’s book was released, America has learned “that it’s Trump’s Republican Party now — one heavy with nativists, populists, protectionists, assorted supremacists.”
“Flake’s protest votes — and his repeated exhortations to return to the party’s roots, its conscience — had zero effect,” Senior wrote.
Read the entire review via the Times.