Following Tennessee Senator Bob Corker’s announcement that he would not run for reelection next year, President Donald Trump—who had, once upon a time, considered Corker a potential secretary of state, attacked Corker, as his is wont, on Twitter, sneering:
Senator Bob Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said “NO” and he dropped out (said he could not win without….my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS.”
Corker responded in kind, remarking, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Interviewed by The New York Times hours after Trump’s Twitter meltdown, Corker accused Trump of treating the presidency like “a reality show…like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.” Trump’s behavior should, said Corker, “concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
Will Corker channel his frustration with the president to good use, perhaps becoming a vocal opponent to the US-abetted slaughter in Yemen and emerging as a kind of heir to J. William Fulbright, who led the fight against Vietnam in the Senate? Unlikely.
Though he was heralded (by some) for his refreshing honesty about our increasingly unhinged president, it would be a mistake to gloss over Corker’s record, which (with the notable exception of his opposition to the Obama administration’s disastrous Libya intervention in 2011) has been consistently hawkish.
In the first place, Corker tried to downplay Trump’s obvious inexperience and volatility during the 2016 campaign. Corker told a reporter from The Tennessean, “I’m seeing from where I sit an evolution towards a more serious tone, towards addressing issues in a more full way.” “And I don’t,” continued Corker, “really worry about that caricature” of Trump, because “once you come into the Oval Office and you understand the tremendous decisions that you have to make…I think that there’s a tremendous soberness and typically when you go in, you end up with lots of very highly qualified people around you. Again, that just doesn’t bother me.”