Defending Jeff Flake

I’m writing this to point out that we’re not in agreement on Congressman Flake’s absence on the cap and tax bill.

Most important to note, more than anything else, is that there was no chance the bill was ever going to fail.  The leadership passed it with the narrowest margin humanly possible to give every endangered incumbent a pass.  If they had forced the issue, the bill would have carried by more than 20 votes.

Second, the criticism utterly fails to take note of the enormous sacrifice given up by members of congress.  Should we expect member’s families to accept any kind of abuse and absence necessary?  Should we have a congress full of people with no semblence of a work/life balance?  Congress is the least family friendly institution in the United States.

I applaud Congressman Flake for realizing that there is more to life than his work, especially when he couldn’t have possibly made the difference.


  1. Oberserve says

    This is absurd. His job is to be present. His job is to defend the constitution. He was AWOL when needed. He did no favor to his constituency and needs to be held accountable.

    If he wants a better work/life balance then don’t be a congressman.

  2. GOP Canon says

    This is my point exactly. Do we want a Congress full of people with 1. No family or 2. A family they repeatedly let down or ignore?

  3. Az citizen says

    I think Flake made the right decision in supporting his daughter. We need more men like him who realize at times family needs to be the priority.

  4. George of the Desert says

    The simple fact is: you can’t make every vote. The last guy to do that literally had to be wheeled in on a gurney to cast a vote hours before he died. We don’t want our elected officials to be so enslaved to the votes that their family lives suffer and we don’t want Congressman who don’t care about their families. It’s easy to cast stones, but it’s a lot harder to live with these decisions.

  5. It’s true that Jeff Flake being present would not have affected whether the bill was passed. However, every abstention by someone opposed to the bill meant one more Democrat in a close 2010 race who got political cover by voting against it.

    The real issue is not whether the bill would have passed. It is whether it should be any easier than necessary for Democrats like Mitchell and Kirkpatrick to get political cover for their re-election campaigns.

    Of course, the 8 Republicans who voted YES really gave the Democrats cover, and I hope their constituents defeat them in their primary elections.

    The reason there are conflicts with family schedules is because the Federal government is too big and Congress is in session too long. Being a member of Congress was not originally intended to be a full time job or a career.

    People in similarly demanding jobs have to miss family events and their children’s activities. Business executives, law enforcement personnel, military personnel, physicians, and other professionals face these same problems. It’s great to be able to be there for you children. However, nobody forced Jeff Flake to run for Congress. In fact, there were some Republicans who would have welcomed a decision by him not to run in 2008. It would have been nice if he had picked a different event to be with his daughter at when there was as important a vote taking place.

  6. I don’t buy it that he missed this super important vote to attend an event for his daughter. There will be plenty more events of his daughters he CAN make. This was too crucial of a vote to miss, especially for someone who claims to be such a staunch fiscal conservative. I know how Washington politics works, and it seems pretty obvious that someone “persuaded” him to miss this vote.

  7. Flake is perfectly capable of defending himself. He doesn’t need little old me, though I’m happy to do so.

    We don’t elect people to endlessly push buttons for no reason, we elect them to kick the tail out of the people trying to do us harm in one way or the other. Flake is very, very effective at that. And it has nothing to do with whether he actually votes.

  8. Oberserve says

    Flake’s daughter wasn’t dying of cancer or having a baby. She was at a beauty pageant.

    That’s what GOP Canon wants to defend.

    It’s indefensible and Jeff Flake needs to be held accountable.

    That’s not life balance. It’s the whining of a post modernist wealthy nincompoop.

  9. lyle tuttle says

    I say “Heck yes, let him go to the beauty pageant. And while we’re at it, let’s do the same for all of our military men and women — after all, they have families, too!”

    Which night WAS the event, anyway?

  10. As someone who criticized Jeff Flake mercilessly on my campaign blog, I say give the guy a break.

    His position on cap and trade is actually pretty reasonable, and he apparently favors it in some form.

    In this case, he did the right thing in being with his family. Unlike a certain South Carolina governor who was AWOL from his family on Father’s Day.

  11. Hunter hit the nail on the head — this is one less D who would have had to vote for this garbage. If it were graduation or a wedding, sure. They get paid more than most with good bene’s. They are about to take a monthlong break in August. Oh, and don’t forget the time off in November and December. They had a WEEK off for President’s Day — just like you did, right…

  12. Conservative does not mean Republican says

    Hunter and cinqo-

    The vote was 219-212. No Democrat would have had to change his or her vote if Jeff was there! It would’ve been 219-213. No dice on that argument.


    The Junior Miss is not a beauty pageant. It is a scholastic program intended to award talented young women with scholarship opportunities so that they can attend elite universities. It is not some bikini wearing hoo-haw. Don’t be ignorant.

    Lastly, just because someone has been elected to Congress doesn’t mean I want them to change their values. I vote for someone that believes in having a solid family foundation. Flake represents that (a lot more than Sanford, Giuliani, etc.) I certainly don’t want Rep. Flake to miss important subcommittee or committee meetings, or to make a habit of missing votes. However, in this instance, his daughter was competing in a once in a lifetime event and the vote at hand was already decided. I think we can give a break this time. In reality, I believe Jeff Flake haters (the immigration zealot) are using this as a poor excuse to attack him. They want to find a way to get some Russell Pearce type to run against him, but it’s not going to work.

  13. Oberserve says

    Sorry, don’t think it’s ‘ignorant’ to expect a Congressman to show up to important votes.

    Jeff Flake’s only failures are not just cap and trade and being a supporter of amnesty.

    Nice “pre”-spin. It failed.

    Flake is going to go the way of Chris Cannon. You can fool us once.

  14. Gary Johnson 2012 says

    If Mr. Grayson is correct that Flake “favors [cap and tax] in some form,” then it’s certainly arguable (maybe even true) that Flake WOULDN’T have voted against it, and used the pageant as an excuse not to vote, to avoid infuriating his conservative constituents and tarnishing his anti-tax record.

    If Mr. Grayson is correct, then, Flake shamelessly used his daughter as a pre-text to duck a vote, and richly deserves to be politically punished.

  15. Conservative does not mean Republican says

    Oh my heck Johnson, Flake support this cap and trade bill??? Come on people, stick to the facts. He doesn’t support cap and trade in any form. And to insinuate that he used his daughter’s competition to miss the vote because he would’ve voted yes on it?! Please, be reasonable. 8, count ’em, 8 Republicans voted for it. If you think Jeff would’ve voted for it too, than you are a buffoon. Don’t waste people’s time with such ridiculous nonsense.

  16. thesnakeguy says

    Can we make sure his daughter has a beauty pageant during the amnesty vote?

  17. Conservative does not mean Republican says

    Oh yeah, Oberserve…

    If you read carefully I didn’t call you ignorant for expecting Congressmen to show up for important votes. I called you ignorant for calling the Junior Miss pageant a beauty pageant. Thanks for misrepresenting what I wrote. Does it happen often?

  18. Conservative does not mean Republican, using your reasoning, anybody can miss any vote that isn’t decided by by that one vote. If everyone had that attitude, there would be a lot less voting in general. Plus, the exact count was probably not known until the vote actually took place. Did Flake know that before he got on the airplane? Not did he know if the bill would pass, but did he know his vote would not have forced a Democrat like Mitchell to have to vote YES.

    Luckily, it turns out it didn’t make a difference this time. Also, the 8 Republicans who voted YES are definitely a problem way more serious than Flake being absent. If 4 of them could have switched their votes or all 8 could have been persuaded to abstain, then Flake’s vote would have made a difference. The bill still would have passed, but a Democrat would have given up some political cover.

  19. kralmajales says

    So given that this is clearly an attempt to persuade people that Flake should not be your candidate for governor, then just who are these folks backing? Who else is running in other words? Brewer is, that is for sure. So Brewer v. Flake…who am I missing?

  20. Conservative does not mean Republican says


    That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t want my representative to make it a habit of missing votes. However, I’m not going to crucify him over missing one vote, albeit a big bill. If Flake starts bailing on a lot of important votes, then I’ll be right there with you calling on him to do his job or give it to someone else.

  21. HavasuMom says

    I think the question remains. Was it merely an excuse to miss voting on a historic bill? As the daughter of a former state rep, I understand the sacrifices that families make. But I can tell you right now that there were things that ranked above beauty pageants – like graduations, weddings, and hospitalizations. My respect for Flake has falled drastically over this issue.

  22. Conservative does not mean Republican, I also think that missing one vote does not mean Flake should not be voted for. I do think he needs a serious rebuke – or at least significant chiding – which I think he is getting. He needs to understand that Republicans are very unhappy about this particular vote. If he doesn’t repeat a mistake like this, some people might think he still shouldn’t be in Congress for other reasons, but this missed vote won’t be a good reason for it.

    It’s also important to understand that with these votes winning the vote isn’t the issue. Forcing Democrats like Mitchell and Kirkpatrick to show their true colors by making the vote closer is what is important. We have to keep the 2010 elections in mind in CDs other than Flake’s too.

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