Tag Archives: Bob Corker

Sen. Corker is going out with a splash

Bob Corker isn’t going to leave the U.S. Senate quietly. He won’t skulk off into the night when his public service career comes to an end.

Oh, no. The Tennessee Republican who announced his intention to retire after the 2018 midterm election is going to make sure he puts his “mark” squarely on Donald J. Trump’s backside.

Corker is now in the midst of a Twitter fight with the president. He has many more friends on Capitol Hill than Trump can claim. One of them happens to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is standing by his Senate colleague.

McConnell calls Corker a valuable member of the Republican Senate Caucus. And when he’s asked directly whether he agrees with Corker’s recent criticism of Trump, McConnell does a version of the Texas two-step. He doesn’t answer the question directly, which is a sort of code for “Yes, I agree with my friend.”

Feud heats up

The long-term impact of Corker’s feud with Trump has yet to be known. The president has tweeted already that he intends to oppose anything that Corker supports. Do we take Trump at his word? And do we now expect Corker to oppose anything that Trump puts forth?

Corker isn’t the longest-serving U.S. senator by a long shot. In this particular climate on Capitol Hill, though, he has emerged as a thoughtful and wise voice of reason. With the rhetoric heating up and with the president seemingly at odds with virtually all so-called “establishment Republicans,” this feud with Corker is taking on some added relevance.

Sen. Corker is a lame duck. That doesn’t mean he’ll be a lame member of the U.S. Senate. He’s already declared that Trump “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to be president. He has said that members of the president’s Cabinet at keeping the nation “separated from chaos.”

It’s gone downhill from there in rapid fashion.

Trump keeps demonstrating the truthfulness of Corker’s analysis.

There goes the Trump-Corker ‘friendship’

This is just a hunch, but I’m almost willing to bet that Donald J. Trump can kiss goodbye Sen. Bob Corker’s support for any major legislation the president manages to present to Congress.

These two men, both Republicans, once were thought to be potential ticket mates in the 2016 presidential election. Trump then went with Mike Pence. Corker, from Tennessee, returned to the U.S. Senate after the election.

Something strange happened. Corker began speaking his mind and from his heart about the kind president Trump has become. He believes Trump “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence to lead.

It’s getting personal

It gets worse. Corker announced his retirement from the Senate after the 2018 election, then launched another salvo at Trump, saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly are saving the nation “from chaos” that Trump threatens to create at every turn.

Trump now has taken to Twitter — imagine that! — to say Corker lacks “guts.” Corker isn’t lying down for it; he’s firing back.

Yep, here we go again. The president of the United States/commander in chief/leader of the free world is blasting a governmental colleague for, um, speaking from his heart.

I need to point out that Sen. Corker is no back-bench nobody. He’s a smart and thoughtful lawmaker who happens to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

So help me, Donald John Trump cannot take it. His skin is paper thin. His blood reaches a full boil quickly and with virtually no effort from the person who criticizes him.

Spare me the crap about Trump “being quick to respond to criticism.” Presidents sign on to the job understanding that they’ll develop critics. It goes with the territory. It’s an unwritten part of the presidential job description.

I would suggest that Trump read up on that kind of thing. Except he doesn’t need to study anything. Why? Because he’s a “very smart person” who surrounds himself “with the best people.”

Simply … sad.

Retirement liberates GOP senator

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker is a free man these days.

The Tennessee Republican has announced his impending retirement from the Senate — and is now free to speak his mind.

Take, for example, his statement this week about three of Donald Trump’s key advisers and how they manage to save the United States from the “chaos” created by the president.

He spoke of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly. These men, said Corker, are managing to maintain some semblance of order.

Corker speaks out

Corker didn’t wait to announce his retirement before speaking candidly about Trump. After the president’s hideous reaction to the Charlottesville riot — including the “many sides are responsible” comment — Corker said the president “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to lead the nation.

Now this latest critique in which he said, “I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

Oh, and of course we now have Tillerson reportedly firing off an enraged comment in a meeting that he believes the president is a “moron.” It’s also been reported that Tillerson attached a descriptive and profane adjective in front of “moron.” He has not denied saying it.

There you have it. A president with no prior government or public service experience of any kind is now leading the world’s greatest nation. Except that he’s incapable of exhibiting the temperament he needs to avoid the “chaos” that he invites whenever and wherever possible.

Trump’s fans applaud him for “telling it like it is.” Now such much-needed candor and honesty are coming from the mouths of the president’s “allies.”

Retirement can be a liberating experience … don’t you think?

Sen. Corker: POTUS lacks ‘competence’ to lead

Bob Corker has just delivered a seriously sharp rebuke to Donald John Trump Sr.

Why is it important that such a rebuke comes from Corker?

He’s a Republican U.S. senator; he hails from Tennessee, one of the states that seceded from the Union in 1861; he is ostensibly allied with the president on most public policy issues.

The backdrop for Corker’s rebuke gives his statement plenty of gravitas.

The president weighed in on that terrible Charlottesville tragedy over the weekend. He has, in effect, taken up with the white supremacists who provoked the riot that killed a young woman who was among the counter protesters who battled with hate groups that were protesting the taking down of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The nation is being swallowed up by the controversy that has ensued. Democrats, understandably, have been outraged by Trump’s remarks. Many Republicans have spoken out against racial or religious intolerance. Few of them in Congress have singled out the president and ascribed specific blame to him for inflaming the nation’s emotions in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy.

Corker, though, has laid it out there.

“The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to be successful,” Corker said in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Welcome aboard, Sen. Corker. Many millions of Americans have been saying those very things — and a lot more — about the president. Many of us even said so while he was campaigning for the presidency. A few folks predicted he would govern like a maniac.

Count me as one who now believes that Trump is worse than I feared he would be. I was hoping he might be able to grow into the job of president.

Corker did use the phrase “not yet been able” when discussing Trump’s performance. The word “yet” suggests Corker believes — or hopes — the president will figure it out. I have little faith of that occurring.

Still, Sen. Corker’s rebuke is strong. It also is important.

Bipartisanship returns to Senate

corker and cardin

Take a look at this picture.

You see two U.S. senators — Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland — yukking it up after the Senate approved a measure to require senatorial review of the Iranian nuclear deal worked out by the Obama administration with the mullahs in Iran.

Why is this picture so noteworthy? It’s because the measure passed 98-1 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner.

It’s not often these days you see Democratic and Republican congressional leaders standing side by side in front of cameras to bask in something they’ve done together.

They did so this week.

Good for them.

What’s brought the smiles to both men? It’s a measure that says the Senate gets to sign off on a treaty that administration officials hope to finalize later this spring or perhaps in early summer. It calls for Iran to scale back dramatically its nuclear development program and its aim is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon — which Israel says it intends to do and which no one this side of Tehran wants to occur.

It’s good that the Senate and the House will weigh in when the time comes.

According to RealClearPolitics.com, “The legislation gives Congress 30 days to review a deal once the full details are submitted to them. They then have the right to approve or disapprove of the deal, or do nothing, which would allow it to go forward. If they disapprove, President Obama can veto that measure, which would require 67 votes to override and actually halt an agreement, an unlikely outcome.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/07/senate_nearly_unanimous_in_backing_review_of_iran_deal_126524.html

The lone “no” vote came from upstart freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the author of that letter that GOP senators sent to the Iranian mullahs threatening to void any treaty that President Obama signs.

Well, that’s Cotton’s view.

I prefer to hope that the Senate will deliberate this treaty carefully when it arrives on Capitol Hill.

I also prefer that it do so in the same bipartisan spirit it showed in approving the measure granting its authority to do so.

Now the House of Representatives will consider it. Follow the Senate lead, House members.

GOP's letter to Iran? It's Obama's fault

You knew it would come to this, didn’t you?

Republican U.S. senators, trying to put some distance between themselves and what’s looking like a monumental cluster-bleep regarding The Letter that was sent to Iran regarding the nuclear negotiations, have done the impossible.

They’ve gone from irresponsible to ridiculous. They’re blaming President Obama for their decision to fire off that message to the Iranian mullahs, encouraging them to oppose any nuclear treaty that gets hammered out.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/10/gop-obama-cotton-letter_n_6843204.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

Blame Obama! That’s the ticket!

Here’s how the Huffington Post, which I concede isn’t a friend of the GOP, reported it: “Those who support the letter — even some who didn’t add their names — deflected the blame. If it weren’t for Obama’s failure to consult lawmakers about the negotiations, or his threatened veto of a proposed bill to give Congress the final vote on a nuclear agreement, senators wouldn’t have had to speak out in the first place, they argued.

“’I think that, no doubt, the fact that the president, you know, issued a veto threat on a very common-sense piece of legislation, probably evoked, you know, a good deal of passion,’ Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Huffington Post Tuesday. Corker, who is leading the push for a veto-proof majority on the bill to grant Congress oversight of a nuclear agreement, did not sign letter, which was organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Nevertheless, he showed no signs of ill will toward his junior colleague.

“’No, no, no,’ Corker responded, when asked if he was concerned Cotton’s letter would cost the bill much-needed Democratic votes.”

There’s more on the link attached to this post, but you get the idea.

The Gang of 47 sent The Letter because President Obama didn’t consult with Republican lawmakers about the negotiations, the GOP line of defense goes.

I applaud Sen. Corker for remaining part of a dwindling Reasonable Republican Senate Caucus; he was one of seven GOP senators who didn’t sign The Letter.

However, his assertion — along with those who did sign the document — that this is Barack Obama’s fault is about as “funny” as the statement by GOP congressional aides reported in The Daily Beast that the senators were being “cheeky,” that they meant The Letter to be something of a joke.

I’m trying real hard right now to pick up the sound of laughter. I don’t hear anything.

 

Ready, set, bombs away!

Back and forth we go.

Congressional Republicans are so angry at President Obama that they want to sue him for taking on too much executive authority to get things done. Now comes a report that the White House is considering air strikes against targets in Syria.

The response from Congress, from Democrats and Republicans? Ask us for authorization, Mr. President, before you unleash our air power.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/215962-corker-congress-must-authorize-airstrikes-in-syria

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the president should seek congressional approval. So has Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Others on both sides of the aisle say the same thing.

They’re likely correct to request congressional approval. Recall that Obama earlier decided to seek congressional authorization after he threatened to hit the Syrian government over its use of chemical weapons on its people. Then the Russians intervened and brokered a deal to get the Syrians to surrender the WMD; they did and the weapons have been destroyed.

Congressional approval is likely the prudent course, given that the president has so few allies on Capitol Hill upon whom he can depend.

It’s fair to ask, though, whether senators like Corker and Kaine are going to stand with the commander in chief when the vote comes. If they’re going to demand congressional approval, then I hope they don’t double-cross Barack Obama with a “no” vote.

Obama reportedly wants to hit ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. He’s already authorized the use of surveillance aircraft to look for targets. I continue to hold out concern about where all this might lead.

I’ll say this next part slowly: I do not want my country to go to war … again. I’ve had enough. I do not want ground troops sent back to Iraq, where we’ve bled too heavily already.

But if we can lend our considerable and deadly air power to the struggle to rid the world of ISIS, then let’s get the job done.

 

UAW loses vote at Tennessee VW plant

Well, at least my dismal record of predicting political outcomes remains intact.

Tennessee autoworkers have rejected a bid by the United Auto Workers to unionize the operation. I had thought most of the workers would seek to join the UAW — and I said so on this blog.

Silly me.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/economy/198489-auto-workers-reject-union-in-tennessee

I get that the UAW lost the vote and I’ll accept that outcome. That was their call.

What’s still difficult to accept is the interference thrown in front of the effort to unionize the workers by a member of the U.S. Senate, a former mayor of the city where the Volkswagen plant is located. Republican Bob Corker argued vehemently against the unionizing effort and threatened the VW plant with retribution if its workers endorsed the UAW effort.

The troubling aspect of this is not that Corker opposed the union per se. It is that he was elected ostensibly as a pro-business conservative who, I think I presume correctly, has suggested that government should stay out of the affairs of private business. VW moguls had said they would not oppose the unionizing of its Chattanooga, Tenn. workforce.

So why did the Distinguished Gentleman feel the need to throw the weight of his public office, his own high profile in the state and the power of the federal government behind something that was essentially a private business decision?

What’s done is done. This particular VW plant’s workers won’t be unionized. I’m hoping the company treats them right.

I ought to stay the heck out of the predicting business.

UAW gets the shaft from Tennessee pol

A Tennessee politician — a self-proclaimed pro-business conservative — is doing something that simply boggles the mind.

He is trying to use government muscle to coerce a major automaker from allowing its workers to unionize.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/12/sen-bob-corker-cant-stand-the-united-auto-workers-an-annotated-interview/

The politician is U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican and a former mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn. The automaker is Volkswagen, which years ago built a huge auto assembly plant in that fine city. The United Auto Workers is now trying to get a toehold in the plant by unionizing its 1,500 employees. The company says it won’t fight the idea. The autoworkers appear ready to join the UAW.

A business is entitled to conduct its affairs as it sees fit, according to many conservative Republicans. Except, apparently, when it involves the introduction of unions that historically have favored Democratic politicians.

So, enter Sen. Corker, the aforementioned pro-business conservative. He doesn’t want the UAW involved. To make his point, Corker is threatening to deny Volkswagen tax incentives that go normally to businesses seeking to expand. The threat is meant to dissuade the employees from voting to join the union.

What gives here? Is Corker a true conservative or has he become a closet — dare I say it — socialist who believes in government interference in private businesses’ affairs? Which is it, senator?

This interference is unconscionable.

GOP fights with itself

I remember a time when Democrats were the fractious bunch and Republicans all held hands and sang off the same page.

That was, oh, about 40 years ago. The times they are a-changin’.

Now it’s the Republicans’ turn to fight among themselves. Democrats have locked arms and aren’t exactly crying crocodile tears over their “friends” troubles on the other side of the aisle.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/193464-boehner-right-fight-moves-to-senate

GOP House Speaker John Boehner stuck it in the tea party wing’s eye the other day after the House passed the bipartisan budget bill worked out under the leadership of Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Democratic Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn to approve the deal and, one can hope, start the nation toward a long-term repair of its budget problems. I’m not holding my breath for that to occur.

Republican senators are taking heat from their so-called “base,” aka the tea party, over their willingness to compromise with those dreaded Democrats. Many key Republicans aren’t being intimidated. “I’ve said for a long time that there are some outside groups who do what they do solely to raise money,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I’m glad that people are wising up.”

One GOP senator, Texan John Cornyn, is going to get a primary challenge from U.S. Steve Stockman, who might be among the looniest of the tea party types to serve in Congress. I’ll predict right now that by the time the March primary rolls around, Cornyn will be seen by many Americans — perhaps even me — as a true statesman when compared to the kookiness of Stockman’s pronouncements.

The Cornyn-Stockman fight symbolizes what’s happening to a once-great political party. It might be helpful for Republicans to have this fight, just as it cleansed Democrats of bitterness back in the 1970s. Of course, Democrats had some help from a Republican president, Richard Nixon, who got entangled in the cover-up that occurred after that “third-rate burglary” at the Watergate office complex.

For now, I’m going to watch Republicans gnaw on each others’ legs.