The ongoing feud between Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the retiring chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and President Donald Trump heated up again today. "The debasement of our nation is what Trump will be remembered most for,” Corker told CNN.
To summarize the arguments of the key participants here, Corker thinks Trump is a clear and present danger to the country and the world, and Trump believes Corker is short and wouldn’t have won reelection in Tennessee.
The widening rift between Corker and the president has put Corker’s colleagues in a difficult position. On the one hand, they overwhelmingly agree with Corker. On the other hand, their entire strategy has been to take their doubts about Trump’s leadership and character and lock them away in the deepest, darkest part of their psyches, to be exhumed once Obamacare is repealed, tax reform is passed, and the legacy-resuscitating memoir is ready to be written.
Corker is complicating that, and according to National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, even his friends are frustrated:
From GOP, estab-friendly insider: "Many GOP senators friendly to Corker are furious at his latest comments, making tax reform harder"— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) October 24, 2017
This, truly, is the modern Republican Party in one tweet. Establishment conservatives agree with virtually everything Corker is saying, but the devil’s bargain they’ve made is that debasing themselves to support Trump will be worth it if they can reform the tax code and unwind Obamacare. But if they support Trump and fail to pass their agenda — as has been the case thus far — then they will have mortgaged their souls for nothing, and that will truly be unforgivable.
Meanwhile, Corker will be remembered as one of the rare Republicans who spoke out against a president whom history will hold in abysmally low regard, and his example will make his colleagues’ cowardice look all the more craven. You can see why they’re pissed.
It’s worth noting that this is not just the way Republicans are treating their support for Trump — it’s the way they’re treating their support for all the extremist candidates their party is embracing. Alabama’s Roy Moore, for instance, believes homosexuality should be illegal, Muslims shouldn’t be permitted to serve in Congress, Sharia law is being imposed in unnamed American communities, and federal statutes should be ignored or superseded when they conflict with his interpretation of the Bible. He is as unfit to serve in federal office as any candidate in memory, and Washington’s Republicans know it — they mounted an all-out, albeit unsuccessful, campaign to defeat him in the primary.
So why endorse him now? “He’s going to be for tax reform, I think,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman told Politico.