Dear Bob Corker: Trump Has Also Been Starting Wars Here at Home

There is great delight in the chatter classes about — first — Bob Corker’s quip about the White House serving as an adult day care center caring for old people with dementia.

And then this article with a series of accusations about how unstable Trump is.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

But I want to point to several passages most people aren’t focusing on.

First, Corker claims that he still likes his golfing buddy Trump.

The deeply personal back-and-forth will almost certainly rupture what had been a friendship with a fellow real estate developer turned elected official, one of the few genuine relationships Mr. Trump had developed on Capitol Hill. Still, even as he leveled his stinging accusations, Mr. Corker repeatedly said on Sunday that he liked Mr. Trump, until now an occasional golf partner, and wished him “no harm.”

Then, Corker says he doesn’t regret normalizing Trump during his campaign.

One of the most prominent establishment-aligned Republicans to develop a relationship with Mr. Trump, the senator said he did not regret standing with him during the campaign last year.

“I would compliment him on things that he did well, and I’d criticize things that were inappropriate,” he said. “So it’s been really the same all the way through.”

And ultimately Corker stops short of deeming Trump unfit, in spite of all the comments that make it clear almost all Republicans do view him as unfit (which, indeed, he would be if he required adult day care).

“As long as there are people like that around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we’ll be fine,” he said.

Mr. Corker would not directly answer when asked whether he thought Mr. Trump was fit for the presidency. But he did say that the commander in chief was not fully aware of the power of his office.

“I don’t think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he’s addressing,” he said. “And so, yeah, it’s concerning to me.”

This is important for several reasons.

For the most part, Corker is focusing on the damage Trump will do internationally. He mentions North Korea, matters on which he fantastically imagines the worst Secretary of State in recent memory, Rex Tillerson, is “negotiating,” and the Iran Deal.

When specifically asked if Trump is unfit, Corker focused on his role as Commander-in-Chief, bracketing all the other parts of being President, as a way to avoid calling the man unfit, which might require action under the 25th Amendment.

And, still, Corker still normalizes the golfing buddy who has spent over two years sowing division in this country and ten months working to dismantle the country internally.

Yes, Corker mentions Trump’s racist comments after Charlottesville, and then confesses he still likes the man who made them.

It’s nice that Corker has finally made it clear his Republican colleagues recognize what the rest of us have too, that Trump is a disaster. But he did so in such a way as to absolve himself and his colleagues from direct action, choosing instead to leave Trump in place to continue his war on America and Americans, even while hoping that Tillerson and his co-babysitters can keep Trump’s fat fingers off the nuclear button.

These are great one-liners from Corker.

But these are not responsible comments. Congress is a co-equal branch of government. And if almost all Republicans in the Senate recognize that Trump is unfit to be president, their constitutional duty is to do something about it, not to continue to normalize him in the hopes he’ll finish dismantling the laws and policies protecting vulnerable Americans.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. harpie says:

    The GOPhers can’t admit how UNFIT Trumpus is because they are liable for every single thing he says and does.

    The GOPhers knowingly put US in clear and present danger.

  2. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Corker was a major player in the anti-union campaign in Chattanooga (where he was mayor) even though VW had said it was okay with the plant unionising, as it was the only legal way to set up the kind of workers’ council it has in all its other plants.

    He’d be fine with Pence providing domestic magahat-ism without the foreign policy cray-cray and the increasingly obvious dementia.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    But these are not responsible comments. Congress is a co-equal branch of government. And if almost all Republicans in the Senate recognize that Trump is unfit to be president, their constitutional duty is to do something about it….

    Amen, EW, amen.  Corker objects to, say, Trump leading us blindly and blithely into WWIII, a fair point.  He seems to ignore the damage Trump and Corker’s GOP are already doing inside America, for which he also takes no responsibility.  Rather like pursuing Russiagate, but ignoring systemic voter suppression efforts by his vaunted GOP.

    If Corker wanted to tackle something easy, he could attack wasteful government spending. An easy target would be VP Pence’s Sunday stunt, spending several hundred thousand dollars flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles via Indianapolis (a four thousand mile detour), simply to walk out of a football game with a theatrical “Ta-da!” Who says Pence isn’t already running for president?

    • Peterr says:

      Corker wants to carry on much of the GOP work to dismantle health care, the EPA, and the tax code. He just doesn’t want WWIII to get in the way of that. Corker has hungered for the day that the GOP owned both houses of Congress and the White House, so that they could enact the policies they have spend decades shouting about, and is dismayed that a little thing like a nuclear conflagration might get in the way of that.

      Also, somehow Corker’s “Do you know how much WWIII would blow up the deficit?” comment was left on the cutting room floor.

      • Peterr says:

        Mr. Pierce weighs in (internal links omitted):

        The big news on Monday was that Scott Pruitt, the extraction industry sublet and current second-place grifter in the Misuse Of Government Airplanes sweepstakes, took a jaunt down to Hazard, Kentucky to announce that “the war on coal” was over and that he would be rolling back the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plant. This is because Pruitt is as complete a tool as one can find at Home Depot and because he no more belongs as head of the EPA than an elephant does performing at the Bolshoi.
        Bob Corker thought that Scott Pruitt was just the man for the job.
        Bob Corker also voted in favor of making a discreet racist the Attorney General, for putting a grifter at the head of Health and Human Services, and for putting unqualified buffoons at the head of the Departments of Education and Housing And Urban Development. Bob Corker was altogether fine with stiffing Merrick Garland for a year in order to hijack a Supreme Court seat for Neil Gorsuch who, apparently, even John Roberts can’t stand. It was cool with Bob Corker, several times, if millions of Americans lost their healthcare and if even the surviving restrictions on Wall Street brigandage and campaign finance went up in smoke. Bob Corker voted with the administration 88 percent of the time. And as Alec MacGillis pointed out on the electric Twitter machine, Bob Corker stepped in and monkeywrenched a union drive at an automobile plant in Tennessee.
        In short, fckabuncha Bob Corker.

        Charlie sounds a tad bit irritated.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    Precisely the point here is that Corker for all of his harrumphing and concern-trolling will still vote for what the party leadership asks him to do, like the execrable AHCA bill and skinny repeal. Actions, not words, are what count here, and he’s fine with McTurtle as Majority Leader. As I’ve said before, I’ll be impressed when the GOP actually votes stuff down that DJT and Mick Mulvaney wants. Until then it is all kabuki.

  5. Ed Walker says:

    What Rugger9 said. Corker is a conservative who will always vote for his fat wallet and whatever right-wing nonsense is in front of him. He only talks nice to placate some of his country-club buddies who figured out that Trumpy is a menace to life on the planet.

    He’s no better than that toadie Lamar Alexander or any of the other senators from the stupid party.

    Also, Charlie Pierce is right about how Corker got into office in the first place. There were a genuine crazy running in the Republican primary, so lots of Democrats crossed over to vote for him, in case the democrats produced a loser, which they did. So, Corker is a beneficiary of the same crazy that elected trumpy.

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