A Real Corker 

There are many things that Americans expect of the men and women they send to the United States Senate as spokespersons for the interests of their states and their nation. The six-year term extended under the Constitution to senators is elongated in comparison to the two-year terms served by members of the House, and that's for a very good reason.

Just as the word "senator" was originally used in Republican Rome to denote those privileged few who were charged with the serious duty of deliberating on affairs of state and high purpose, so does the six-year term, in theory at least, allow members of the U.S. Senate to discharge a similar function.

click to enlarge GREG CRAVENS
  • Greg Cravens

It was this function that Senator John McCain of Arizona had in mind during debate on an administration-backed measure to "repeal-and-replace" the Affordable Care Act when McCain reminded his colleagues: 1) that the subject was important enough to handle via bipartisan consideration in "regular order" (as against rushing through a party-line vote in order to assist President Donald Trump in his obsession with taking down any and all achievements of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama) and 2) that "we are his [Trump's] equal."

Historically, Tennessee's senators, whether Democratic or Republican, have acted according to this Constitutional formula. You don't have to be too long-of-tooth to remember the words of special Watergate Committee co-chair Howard Baker regarding the titular head of his party, Richard Nixon: "What did the president know, and when did he know it?" Baker asked. And, eventually, we found out. Similarly, Democratic Senator Albert Gore, father and namesake of Senator and Vice President Al Gore, who joined with a conscientious band of concerned senators to investigate and later oppose the ill-advised American strategy in Vietnam of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson

Into this honor roll of Tennessee senators who have done their duty, not only to their states, but to their nation and to the Constitution, we can now add the name of Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who has come as close as any public official now serving to illuminate the grave peril threatening the nation in the continuation of Donald Trump's unhinged regime.

Several weeks ago, Corker, speaking to Tennessee reporters, told it straight: "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful." That was, as it turned out, to say the least.

In recent days Corker has embroidered on these remarks, and on a national stage. "He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation," he said. "[It's] like he's doing The Apprentice or something." And, most damning: "Trump may be setting the U.S. on the path to World War III."

What makes these observations even more potent is that Corker has been among the few members of Congress to have heretofore enjoyed a truly personal relationship with the president as a golf and conversation partner. We owe the senator a debt of gratitude for his candor and for the example he has set for the rest of his colleagues, regardless of party.

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