Mero Moment: When character was king again, if only for a moment

Composite stock image, St. George News

OPINION — Even before Arizona Senator Jeff Flake finished his floor speech announcing his retirement and why he is retiring, opinions already were flying. Donald Trump and Steve Bannon saw Flake’s speech as a sign of victory. Hugh Hewitt dismissed it as a Hail Mary, Flake’s only political option in a losing reelection campaign. Ross Douthat called Flake’s retirement speech “defiant surrender.” Social scientists tell us there is simply no voter appetite these days for the conservatism Flake represents. And, in a typical non sequitur of thought, the New York Times editorial board thinks all of it is simply an assault on the Obama agenda.

My opinion joins the very few that think Flake’s speech is both remarkable and courageous. It is remarkable because it is unusual for an incumbent politician to simply retire in the prime of his career. And it is courageous because he did not have to say what he said. To keep his job, Flake could have rolled over in submission to Trump and Bannon. Instead, in one brief speech, he defined transcendence in the moment when it was needed most.

Yes, polling shows that his reelection is in jeopardy. But it is still over a year away. That is plenty of time to recover, if he wanted to. But for him to do so would mean selling his soul – a price too high.

In a Washington Post commentary, Flake concisely explains his motivations. He writes, “Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough.”

He added, “The outcome of this is in our hands. We can no longer remain silent, merely observing this train wreck, passively, as if waiting for someone else to do something.”

Many people might think it odd for his “something” to be his retirement. Why not stay and fight? Other senators, such as Ben Sasse and Utah’s Mike Lee, refused to vote for Trump and shared their opinions ranging from skeptical to dumbfounded. Why doesn’t Flake do the same thing? Retiring seems like quitting and complaining when quitting feels like whining. But Flake is neither quitting nor whining. He is setting a standard for virtuous public service.

At the heart of our disdain for Donald Trump for we, Never Trumpers, is his lack of character and general unfitness for office. His lack of character is disdainful to us because character is a value we honor. Trump reveals his lack of character when he lies and when he is ignorant of issues and processes. Never Trump backers like me opposed Trump even before he talked about grabbing female genitalia. His crudities are not reflecting his character, per se. His character is reflected each time he places his own pride and ego before his country.

Trump is not only the leader of the free world, he is supposed to be the leader in public virtue. When he fails so miserably, the rest of us are tested. What is our character? When evangelical leaders kowtow to Trump and ignore his bad behavior, they are hypocrites. They lower the national character and exacerbate our slide into corruption and tyranny.

Supporters of Trump and Bannon argue that our slide into corruption already has occurred and was driven by the Establishment seeking to maintain power at all costs. But is Congress stalled or is our nation divided? Maybe the reason even a Republican-controlled Congress and White House cannot come to agreement over their agenda is because the agenda of the American people is a bit more diverse? Trump did lose the popular vote. The opinion that simply getting rid of Mitch McConnell will solve everything is even more stupid than naïve.

Perhaps understanding the importance of Trump’s character deficit might help us to understand Flake’s decision to retire, for now. My guess is he’ll be back and none to soon. But, for now, I am guessing he knows he is in a fight in a closed room with a skunk and that gives winning a whole new meaning. A man of good character knows when to bow out. Flake did the right thing and I, for one, cannot wait for his return.

I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

Paul Mero is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews



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  • The Dude October 27, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Jeff Flake is a never Trumper. He hates Trump’s style but what about his substance. The never Trumper crowd will say he’s is uncouth and crass. But he gets the job done. He says how he feels and many Americans love him for it. Jeff Flake gave that speech to launch his 2020 Presidential campane.
    If he stays on that message he will fail. He will sound like the media but have no issues to come up with. His voting record will show he was a get along guy with the Dems, not a fighter like Trump.

    • jaybird October 27, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Trump is a dump truck that fits in with losers. His “style” will not last in America where most people dont want to be ruled but like to make decisions on their own. Move to Russia. Think about it if you can: just what has he done for you? Is your life better? Wait to those taxes start flowing and your healthcare is no longer there . Oh yeah, theres always Trumpcare for those who like the ER.

      • The Dude October 28, 2017 at 7:24 am

        Wow your just one happy snowflake ain’t ya. We if Hilery got in she would now be having a yard sale at the White House (remember the Clinton’s took furniture last time). That wicked witch with a capital B, is what got Trump elected. You stupid Dems point your anger at Trump when you should need to clean house, like Trump is doing. The DNC needs to be investigated and if you snowflakes ask for it Trump will get it done.

      • ladybugavenger October 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

        Well, i will answer your question. What has Trump done for me? Personally, I can tell you that my life is great now. I moved from Utah to Oklahoma one year and a month ago. I had applied for a job and was denied twice. I applied for the same job a third time and I was hired for a seasonal position on inauguration day. I went from seasonal to part time. Yesterday, I went from part time to full time with full benefits. Which is huge where i work. The managers I work with have morals and solve employee to employee problems. I now have full benefits with pretty good healthcare and all the other benefits I want ie: 401k, stock, disability, paid vacation, paid holidays, and so on.

        Was it trump? I think his election has a lot to do with it.
        My work ethic was the same before but now i have more.

        To everyone complaining- go get a job. It’s going to get better. There is great oppurtunity coming. And remember, it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you spend. You will see a difference. Look past the hate and have a grateful heart for everything you have. Do not compare yourselves to others. Look at yourself, it will get better. God bless y’all.

  • statusquo October 27, 2017 at 8:38 am

    No matter what you say, trump was still our only option last November

  • DRT October 27, 2017 at 8:40 am

    “His lack of character is disdainful to us because character is a value we honor. ”
    But just who values it, and when does it get honored? Perhaps you believe that Hillary, that “shining example of morals and character” should have been elected? Perhaps you feel that Obama was a “shining example?”
    Do you think that all the media hacks, (of which you are one,) or the talk radio “personalities” are “shining examples?”
    Sadly, there are no”shining examples of morals and character” in the public eye right now.

    • jaybird October 27, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Still, Hillary and especially Obama are nowhere as incompetent, ignorant or close to corrupt as the liar sexual predator traitor you elected.

  • Blemonds October 27, 2017 at 9:02 am

    The key point I think Mero made is that Flake seems to be retiring at the height of his career. Being in the Senate or the House should not be a career in my opinion. I see Flake’s retirement simply as part of the swamp being drained. It’s interesting to note as well that if I’m correct in my understanding of congressional retirements, a member becomes eligible for an immediate although reduced pension at the age of 55 if he has served in 9 congresses. On December 31 this year, mere days before his resignation, Flake will turn 55 during this (you guessed it), his 9th congress. Coincidence? Only Flake knows but we are the ones who will be paying for his “early” retirement

  • mctrialsguy October 27, 2017 at 10:07 am

    A good president will stir up the waters so that the S – – T floats to the top and gets washed away instead of just coasting through his term. The waters must get muddy before they will clear.

    • jaybird October 27, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Unless when the s–t IS the president and his sorted ideologies.

  • John October 27, 2017 at 10:16 am

    The draining of the swamp has begun and Flake knows it. never Trumpers should realize there are more supporters of the President than anyone could ever account for and that number is increasing daily. Hillary found out in last year’s election. The congress and senate are going to find out in November 2018. For those in denial of that fact , you too can go outside on the night of Nov 8 and scream at the sky with the rest of the liberals and prepare to live through 7 more years of “MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN ! “

    • jaybird October 27, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      If making America great again means allowing big business to run away with it, or hanging onto racism from white fear, or forcing lies on the American public to save your sorry cowardly ass and giving away secrets to Russia, we will be a living wasteland by time Trump slips further into his manic Alzeimers.

      • John October 27, 2017 at 9:33 pm

        Get a real story jaybird! Your liberal talking points are all made up.. people are laughing at your gullibility. we hope you and your kind have stocked up on coloring books and kleenex..It’s going to be a long time till 2024…

        • jaybird October 28, 2017 at 6:01 pm

          Zeke heil to another Trump meth head.

          • John October 28, 2017 at 8:59 pm

            jaybird, …* your’e an idiot… hahaha!
            * Ed. ellipsis.

          • ladybugavenger October 29, 2017 at 10:22 am

            In all fairness, I don’t think meth heads vote. They are too busy.

  • KarenS October 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I agree with Paul Mero and Jeff Flake. Flake said it perfectly:

    “Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough. ”

  • commonsense October 27, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Those who focus on style are always going to hate Trump. He is never going to be suave or reserved. He will speak his mind and his heart. He is not devoted to Republican ideology.
    His populist views attract those who want results at any cost. Politically correct is not even an afterthought for the Donald.

    Americans who love this country and its great freedoms worship Trump. The rest will whine and moan like most self imposed victims.

    • KarenS October 28, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Senator Flake’s speech was not about Trump’s style. It was about Trump’s character. When Trump speaks, he debases himself and the country. He is a pathological liar and that is dangerous, especially in foreign policy.

      • bikeandfish October 29, 2017 at 12:36 am

        “His populist views attract those who want results AT ANY COST”. Those words are ones that will haunt this country with their accuracy and reflect well on the Trump administration’s lack of character.

  • deseret dave October 28, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Senator Flakes retirement is not a sign of “Virtuous anything” Hes just another poor loser that is joining that group of losers….Drain the swamp NOW ………

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