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Sen. Jeff Flake wants to know when the GOP will stop rationalizing Trump's actions

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) writes in his new book, Conscience of a Conservative, that the Republican Party created President Trump and is now rationalizing his actions, and he'd like to know when they'll stop giving him a pass.

Politico ran an excerpt from the book Monday, with Flake pinning the rise of Trump on people who "felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties" and reached "in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process." It didn't help that conservatives "mocked Barack Obama's failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure," Flake said, and the GOP hurt itself by making its No. 1 priority upon his election "not advancing a conservative policy agenda" but rather "making Obama a one-term president."

Trump's conduct so far in office "would have had conservatives up in arms had it been exhibited by our political opponents," Flake said, and his "seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians" has "created such a cognitive dissonance among my generation of conservatives — who had come of age under existential threat from the Soviet Union — that it is almost impossible to believe." Flake asks Republicans to "speak out if the president 'plays to the base' in ways that damage the Republican Party's ability to grow and speak to a larger audience" and "take the long view when it comes to issues like free trade: Populist and protectionist policies might play well in the short term, but they handicap the country in the long term." Read the entire excerpt at Politico.