Let’s talk Bob Corker.
At the time of this writing, he’s publicly made it known twice his feelings about the Donald Trump presidency. Lest we forget, the first time he questioned Trump’s mental wherewithal to be president. The second time, he said the folks around Trump are “people who help separate our country from chaos.” In the context of the quote, the implication was that “chaos” meant “Donald Trump.” Then, in a jab-to-the-jaw tweet that will surely be his legacy, he called the White House “an adult day care center.” Holy wow.
Corker has nothing to lose, of course. He announced his retirement from his current seat a few weeks ago, so he feels freer than his GOP colleagues to say what he thinks. Or, maybe more damningly, to tell Americans how it really is working with President Chaos. Expect Corker’s candor on the Trump administration to become even more candid as his departure from the Senate draws nigh. I predict that, in his farewell speech, Corker’s quotable quote will be: “Donald Trump. What the actual f&$* is wrong with that guy, AMIRIGHT?”
Corker is about as typical a Republican senator as he can be. Certainly, at least, a typical Old Guard Republican of the sort currently under bombardment from Steve Bannon and his ilk—which makes any comment Corker offers on the Trump administration all the more interesting. Old Guard Republicans, with the possible exception of John McCain, are not exactly known for speaking their minds independently of the party line. Some might say Corker’s comments on the Trump White House—while surely dead-on—come a day late and a dollar short, spurred on only because of his impending departure from the Senate. That’s probably true. On the other hand, no other GOP senator—again, possibly excluding McCain—has made any kind of meaningful statement that runs upstream of Trump’s downstream vitriol.
Let’s drill down for a minute on where the chaos of which Corker speaks comes from. Trump touted his lack of political qualifications to be president as his chief qualification to be president. No problem there. In principle, at least, most Republicans and most Democrats might even agree that an outsider inside the Oval Office sounds pretty good. Too much political same ol’, same ol’ makes for a stagnant government and a stagnant country. A swamp to be drained, as Trump would say.
But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that Trump couldn’t drain a bathtub if we spotted him a plumber. In fact, not only has Trump failed to drain the swamp, he’s parked his own fetid swamp (read: his administration) right on top of the swamp he was supposed to drain. MAGA by making things worse? That sounds like Trumpian logic.
(Sidebar: Try to rustle up, if you can, some sympathy for the toads and snakes that slither through the Trump Swamp. History will not cast a friendly eye on them. Of course, it’s their own damn faults for hitching their wagons to a crazed mule in the first place. It’s as if Trump said to the Spicers, the Priebuses, et al.: “Work for me. But there’s one condition. I get to eat your dignity for dinner every single night.” Somehow, that sounded good and they all said yes.)
Here we find the wellspring of the chaos Corker has discovered: Trump, as evidenced by his Twitter diplomacy, can’t get enough of himself. To be sure, he’s right about one thing: He’s not a politician. He is a showman. An odd kind of showman, though, who picks his own plays, directs them, performs them, then gives himself glowing reviews, all in stern defiance of reality. Let me say it another way: Trump ran for president (and now governs) to amuse himself.
Day by day, Trump is dissolving America’s pride and decency, and he doesn’t know it and he doesn’t care. For Trump, these are secondary concerns, if they’re concerns at all. At least he’s having fun.
I wonder when the lightning hit Corker. Russia? Charlottesville? Repeal and replace? North Korea? Joe Arpaio? Was it as far back as “Grab them by the p#&@*”? Or as far back as the hellacious vision of Trump descending his golden escalator to make the fateful announcement that he’d run for president?
Now, hightailing it out of Washington with the realization Corker seems to have had about Trump seems a bit cowardly. Why not stick around and lead an uprising in Congress? But you have to start somewhere. Remember, most other GOP congressmen, in the House and Senate alike, are still front row in Trump’s theater tossing roses on stage as he screeches lines from “King Lear” … Wait. An allusion to a play about a clueless, self-absorbed leader, his ass-kissing underlings and his messed-up children??? No ….
Paul Luikart is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of places over the years. His most recent book, “Animal Heart,” is available now from Hyperborea Publishing. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.