I was beginning to wonder when this Senator Corker was going to resurface. He seemed poised and ready to take up the debt ceiling fight months ago when talk of the looming debate began on the Hill – which is why his absence from the front line of negotiations has been puzzling to this Tennessee Republican. It appears Senator Corker has been wondering why he’s been shut out as well.
Yesterday, Senator Bob Corker set the town of Washington ablaze laying out a passionate case for how and why our great nation has found itself in the middle of this economic quagmire. While the talking points and takeaway lines were certainly not in short supply, the theme of his message was simple, candid, and plain for anyone willing to look objectively to decipher. The reason we find ourselves in this precarious position boils down to, according to Senator Corker, a blatant lack of leadership – on the part of both political Parties.
Yes, he was the one man willing to say it. We all know it; and we’ve known it for some time. The “debate” du jour may be the “debt ceiling” but the underlying problem is a lack of intestinal fortitude to do the hard but necessary work – the People’s business and the People’s bidding.
Through a series of speeches, interviews, and committee hearings; Senator Corker spelled out for the American People precisely what ails their government in Washington – inaction as the status quo, action only when absolutely necessary, consolidation of power wherever possible, and delaying the inevitable for future sessions of Congress as the preferred course.
Many, including myself, have often called Senator Corker a “pragmatist.” Many more have questioned his role in the Republican Party of the Tea Party era. He’s been characterized by some as “wishy-washy” or “soft” because he’s seemed unwilling to toe the party line without reservation. He’s been seen as an “unknown” in a political world of Left and Right without any room for shades of gray. I too have shared many of these thoughts during Senator Corker’s tenure in Washington. As a Tennessean, they have troubled me at times. I have been waiting for the day he would emerge as the leader I thought I voted for – the man I thought would truly take common sense to Washington. I am pleased to see that that day; that his day; has finally arrived.
Because of the inherent flaws in Washington politics being demonstrated through this “debt debate”, I can now say without equivocation that he may very well be alone – or in a very small class of elected officials who walk the halls the Senate and the House of Representatives – as the only reasonable man/men left in that wasteland of political maneuvering. By the day I lose confidence in my Party’s leadership in both the House and the Senate, and I can hear a similar sentiment echoed in Senator Corker’s voice. Frankly, his self-described “disappointment” is the only thing that’s given me hope.
His remarks of the last 24 hours have probably painted a very negative picture of “business as usual” in Washington for some. Frankly, that’s why party leadership would probably prefer he never uttered a word of it. He has been candid. He has been unapologetic. He has been critical not just of opposition leadership, but also of his own. He has thrown off party shackles – not for political gain or token bipartisanship – but for the cause of doing the People’s business.
People often talk of “doing the People’s Business” when they are campaigning for office. On the trail it means going to Washington to bring about real change; to do the hard work – the necessary work; to restore a more perfect Union. It’s always been puzzling to me to see how the “People’s Business” quickly morphs into maneuvering to sure up re-election or attempting to seize political power within the halls of Congress.
I’m sure in the minds of the men that undergo such a transition it is perfectly sound and justifiably noble. I’m sure they sleep well at night believing they are doing the “People’s Business” just as they promised on the campaign trail. I’m sure they fully believe they are serving a justifiable end by doing everything possible to remain in office and to increase their power therein.
I say that not because I believe it, but only because it seems to be the norm rather than the exception. I am pleased to say that one of the few exceptions hails from the Volunteer State I call home.
I am certain that Senator Corker’s efforts of the last 24 hours will go on deaf ears to most. His comments will very likely find their way onto Right-Wing bullet lists at a later date as evidence of his lack of Party credentials. That may very well be the price he pays for speaking out. I can’t help but believe that he will sleep fine all the same.
For what it’s worth… Senator Corker’s actions over the last 24 hours have earned him my respect. Today, I am very proud to call Bob Corker My Senator.