From conservative Sen. Jeff Flake to the Pentagon, there’s an outbreak of sudden lucidity: Our view

Sometimes it takes a child to point out that the emperor has no clothes. And sometimes it takes a Republican senator.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is a conservative with impeccable credentials: a 93% lifetime rating from the  American Conservative Union, a 100% rating from National Right to Life and an A from the National Rifle Association. He once served as executive director of the Goldwater Institute. He has faithfully voted to repeal Obamacare.

And he says the Republican Party has been in denial about President Trump. 

“Rather than defending the enduring principles that were consonant with everything that we knew and had believed in, we pretended the emperor wasn’t naked,” Flake writes in a new book, Conscience of a Conservative. “Even worse: We checked our critical faculties at the door and pretended that the emperor was making sense.”

OPPOSING VIEW: Jeff Flake is trying to have it both ways

It’s true that Flake, who faces a tough re-election bid next year, has never been a big fan of Trump. But the senator’s spot-on candor comes amid a welcome, if belated, outbreak of lucidity about Trump’s crude mix of bombastic untruths and ineffectual leadership. Across the capital, the sound you hear is that of backbones starting to stiffen:  

  • After acting Drug Enforcement Agency chief Chuck Rosenberg heard about Trump’s foolish quip suggesting that law enforcement rough up arrested suspects, he immediately fired off an email noting that Trump had “condoned police misconduct,” and advised staff to ignore those words in favor of agency core values such as integrity and accountability.

  • The Pentagon declined to start immediately discriminating  against transgender troops based on a presidential tweet to do so.

  • Senate Republicans shrugged off White House demands that Obamacare — despite a host of failed efforts — must be repealed, declaring instead that “it’s time to move on.” In fact, a number of Republicans expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on bipartisan ways to shore up the Affordable Care Act and warned the White House against sabotaging the ACA in the meantime.