Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to find and root out even the most entrenched members of the ruling class.
Retiring Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is now exposed as the next in a long line of undistinguished establishment Republicans captured by the very interests they were elected to rebuff.
In what has become a worn out routine among members of the GOPe, over the weekend Corker ran to the New York Times—the very epicenter of liberalism—to unload on Trump. Corker, who seems to have more regard for the views and opinions of liberal elites than he does for the voters who put him into office (61 percent of voting Tennesseans went for Trump), riffed on his personal feelings about the president for over 25 minutes.
He called Trump’s presidency “a reality show” and said that the president’s reckless actions are putting the nation “on the path to World War III.” Corker stated that Trump needs to have his aides constantly available “to talk him down.” Trump, he maintained, is pure “chaos” and “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
“He concerns me,” Corker declared. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
Later, Corker continued his tirade on Twitter:
It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 8, 2017
All this from a man who was once considered as a possible VP pick and served as an informal foreign policy counselor to Trump during the 2016 campaign.
And this from a man who in September, when he was still considering a run for a third term in the Senate, thought enough of Trump to seek out a lengthy one-on-one talk with him. Corker’s spokeswoman called that meeting “wide ranging” and “extremely productive.” Downplaying any rift between himself and President Trump, Corker at the time maintained that “for people to try to act as if there is daylight between us as a result is just not true.”
So in a little more than half a month, Trump went from close friend and trusted adviser to tin-pot dictator possessed of an itchy trigger finger? To the members of the ruling class, this behavior is what counts as “normal” politics in our age. But to most observers recalling this series of events, one of these two parties appears petulant and given to indecision—and that party is not the president.
Glancing over the record of Corker’s two terms in the Senate, voters should be relieved that Trump did not involve him in the administration in any meaningful way.
In 2006, Corker promised the hard working people of Tennessee, ”You’re going to have a senator from Tennessee, not D.C.” Since then, Corker has reliably fallen right in line with the ways of the Beltway ruling class.
On foreign policy, he represents a continuation of the feckless policies of the Obama Administration. Corker allowed the Iran deal to go through by subverting the Senate’s power to ratify treaties under Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution. Instead of insisting on the constitutionally required two-thirds of the Senate needed to approve a treaty, Corker issued a bill turning that provision on its head and making it necessary for two-thirds of the Senate to vote in favor of blocking the treaty. Senators would be required to register their negative assessment of President Obama’s deal rather than simply decline to vote for it.
As Andrew C. McCarthy noted back in 2015:
Under the Constitution, Obama’s Iran deal would not have a prayer. Under the Corker bill, it would sail through. And once again, it would be Republicans first ensuring that self-destruction is imposed on us, then striking the pose of dogged opponents by casting futile nay votes.
Corker maintained that his bill was necessary to stop President Obama from negotiating a secret deal with Iran. But the Iranians soon made the contents of the deal public, thereby undercutting Corker’s rationale. Corker helped weaken the Senate’s power over treaties and furthered Barack Obama’s radical agenda with the mullahs. All in a good day’s work for a member of the ruling class.
On immigration, an issue that is at the heart of Trump’s agenda to recover the sovereignty of the American people, Corker has been a disaster. In 2013, Corker attempted to save the horrendous Gang of Eight immigration bill by putting forward an amendment that would have granted amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants and the millions more who would have come streaming across the border in exchange for a paltry promise of doubling the number of border patrol agents. Corker took a “stand” for the same non-existent “enforcement” policies Republicans have been touting for decades but would have continued to invite millions more immigrants into our country no matter the wishes of the people who elected him or the effects on them and our nation as a whole.
For the members of the Republican establishment being “tough” on immigration is just a game they play. They know we don’t like the way things are going now or the increasing levels of toleration they seem to have for open borders, so they are happy to use the issue as a wedge that helps them to get elected. But they don’t really mean to solve the problem. In the first place, they’d lose the wedge. In the second, they don’t actually think we know what we are talking about on immigration. They’re quite sure they’re more refined and know better.
The people of Tennessee deserve better—they deserve a senator who stands by the positions he promised to uphold. And so do all Americans. When consent is thus abused, it is hardly right to say that it is freely given.
Indeed, Bob Corker is their beau ideal of a senator.
How do we know? Just look at the the ruling class and their reaction to the kerfuffle between him and Trump. For the likes of Mitch McConnell, being willing to violate the Constitution, vote for open borders policies, and further President Obama’s aims in the world reflects the kind of flexibility that makes Corker a “valuable member” of the GOP majority in the Senate. Never mind that this “flexibility” is not something Corker was willing to market to his voters while running for office.
NeverTrump U.S. Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) praised Corker’s tirade against Trump and urged more of his colleagues in Congress to “speak out” in this manner. On Twitter, Joe Scarborough wrote of his “love” for Corker. Bill Kristol is calling on Corker to stay in office and “continue to represent” the people of Tennessee “to best of his ability using his judgment.” Apparently for Kristol, Corker is doing exactly what he was elected to do: override the consent of the governed with his own superior judgment (a judgment formed by other members of the ruling elite, of course).
The members of the ruling elite sure know how to come to the defense of one of their own when times are tough.
Steve Bannon is right: Corker should resign immediately. He represents a failed status quo—something that is, by now, obvious to all but Corker and his cronies. His two terms in the Senate have been nothing but a milquetoast blend of pomposity and neoliberal orthodoxies that have come to define our politics in recent years. The people of Tennessee deserve better—they deserve a senator who stands by the positions he promised to uphold. And so do all Americans. When consent is thus abused, it is hardly right to say that it is freely given.
Congressmen and senators are free to change their minds while they are in office, of course. But they should be honest about such shifts in position and make a real case for the new ones they’ve adopted. When GOPe politicians use wedge issues like immigration or feign support for a president popular with their constituents to secure their election but then turn in a different direction once elected, they dishonor their office and spurn the sovereign people who elected them. It is an abuse of their power and it is wrong.
In order to Make America Great Again, Congress needs to become great again. The Bob Corkers of our politics have been abusing our consent and their power for far too long, ingratiating themselves to the ruling elite and finally, becoming members of it themselves. It is high time that we show them in whom the powers of government are actually vested. We have the power to choose better representation. We should do it.