THERE IS NO STRATEGY, HE'S JUST WINGING IT AND LIVES ARE AT STAKE
FINALLY A GOP SENATOR STICKS IT TO TRUMP
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) reminds me of a man in crowded club who dares to be the first on the dance floor and he dances along, with not a slight care if anybody joins. He is ready to be the lone nut. It’s surprising that he’s a Republican because Republicans nowadays are known for their lack of courage in leadership and enabling the most incompetent person to ever rise to the US presidency.
Republicans, Corker included, have put party ahead of country but hopefully for Corker, the hypnosis he’s been under to support Trump has worn off and he will not turn back to Trumpian sycophancy.
In the Twitter war between President Donald Trump and Corker, Trump, the self-proclaimed master counter-puncher just got out-punched silly. For almost two years now, maybe longer, Trump has intimidated and humiliated his opponents with his mean tweets.
GOP leaders’ reaction to the constant humiliation can be lumped into four distinct groups.
The first group comprises of opponents in the GOP who are uncomfortable with Trump but have shied away from getting into a Twitter war with him fearing the brigade of die-hard supporters, the so-called Trump base, would spell doom to their political careers. Most GOP leaders fall in this pathetic group of leaders without courage.
There is a second group of GOP leaders, who have shown flashes of courage but continue to find ways to tolerate Trump’s inane unpresidential behavior. They are leaders such a Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona, Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska). These senators have at some point criticized Trump when it really doesn’t matter but when it comes to taking concrete actions such as voting against a poorly-thought out Trump initiative, they have been in lockstep with him. Some brownie points for Paul for opposing a last minute push to pass a version of repeal and replace by reconciliation budgetary maneuver sponsored by- surprise surprise- Graham and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).
But Paul, in the true fashion of sending mixed signals, awkwardly stood behind Trump applauding meekly as he gutted Obamacare subsidies that help the sickest and poor Americans. It’s not clear why Paul did that. Is it because he believed Trump is right or is it because he went golfing with Trump and now he feels he owes him an applause when he signs one of those big executive orders.
The third group is rather unique– the women. Not all women. Just three. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Carmen Yulin Cruz, (Mayor San Juan, Puerto Rico). Despite Collins and Murkowski being members of the Republican Caucus, these two senators have distinguished themselves as independent, fearless and they put the country first. While independence cannot only be measured by one’s defiance of their own party, the thought and reasoning behind their political positions are respectable and understandable because they are not driven by malice toward Trump rather they are ready to disagree when necessary. Mayor Cruz has demonstrated a ferocious fearlessness when it comes to seeking help for his people who suffered massive loses after hurricane Maria swept the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Cruz has exposed for all to see the empty words of Trump who he takes credits regardless of whether the work is done or not.
Then there is a fourth group of Trump GOP critics in the Senate — the retirees. These are legislators who have decided not to seek another term in office under Trump, maybe because as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said according to The New Yorker Magazine report, Trump is a “fucking moron.”
The above group is small, but has achieved a level of mental independence that comes with the innoculation of having nothing to lose. After all, the base cannot hurt them as they don’t need them. They are not running for anything. Trump cannot hurt them with his mean tweets either, because they can stand up to him mano-a-mano without fear as they do not need to tolerate the childish stupid theatrics he would perform in the name of endorsing them or campaigning for them. I have mixed feelings about this group, because while they have a voice and can exercise it, they have not particularly done a good job with their platform. But that was until this weekend, when Corker came into the picture and unleashed it on Trump, and ably pointed out in the starkest manner possible what he thinks of Trump– petulant, incompetent and dangerous.
There is a lesson to be learned from how Corker handled his feud with Trump.
Many victims of Trumps mean tweets make one mistake, the fail to utilize the platform handed to them effectively. Instead of using the platform to point out Trump tweets as unbecoming of a president and pointing out that the presidency is a serious position that must be handled with competence and respect. They delve into personal attacks toward Trump focusing on street insults of Trump such as his small hands of his orange tan that some people say reminds them of a bag of cheetos or the cheetos snacks. Some, such as Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, fell for the bait, dragged themselves into the Trump gutter and lost the argument. Joe and Mika even went as far as wasting space in a Washington Post op-ed where they psychoanalyzed Trump saying he is not well, essentially handing Trump some form of plausible deniability.
Trump is not crazy. His personal doctor Harold Bornstein gave him a clean bill of health. Here is the report. Unless somebody knows otherwise, we should take his doctor’s word written in a letter that after a thorough medical exam, Trump only showed “positive results.” The truth is Trump knows too well what he is doing when acting crazy. He has known throughout his life that he gets away with doing bad stuff whenever he acts crazy and by saying Trump is not well, Joe and Mika validated his facade. But Corker, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did not fall for Trumps tricks.
Notice what he did when Trump attacked him.
He spoke about Trump critically, factually, calmly and unemotionally. He was specific and very mature about it. The first thing Corker did was separate Trump, the entertainer, from the presidency and addressed the person, saying he has not demonstrated the competency required for him to be a successful president. He did not let Trump dominate him with his juvenile lies either when he tried to make it appear that Corker was just attacking Trump because he had refused to support his bid for re-election. He set the record straight immediately. He hit back at Trump without dignifying his petulant attack or disrespecting the office of the president.
The best thing Corker did here was to anticipate Trump attacks. He knew, from the obvious plethora of examples littering Twitter, that Trump would attack him after speaking candidly about his incompetence in the presidency, and he was ready for him. He was not about to allow himself to go down in history in the same pile of Trump Twitter victims like “Lyin'” Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions who were Twitter-bullied into meek submission. Oh no, he’s not the kind of a man. He stepped up and put Trump in his place and giving the GOP a template to follow when dealing with this erratic president.
After the punch back at Trump, Corker connected another punch in a one-two combination in an interview with New York Times where he said he knows for a fact that Trump has hurt US interests with his erratic behavior and he is putting the US on the path of World War III. “He’s treating his office like a reality show and he was acting like he’s doing the Apprentice or something,” He said in public the things Republicans say about Trump in private and in turn tamed the crazy in Trump.
In an uppercut shot, Corker confirmed many people’s fears about Trump’s character to the New York Times and portrayed him as an out-of-control juvenile adult who has to be contained and prevented from exercising his instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker said.
He trashed the idea that Trump’s erratic outbursts on Twitter that undermined Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts to averting war with North Korea were some of Trump’s secret master deal-maker good cop – bad cop strategy of getting North Korea to comply with US demands to disarm or else. “A lot of people think there is a good cop bad cop act underway, but that’s not just true.”
Translation to all those Trump supporters who believed the lies that Trump had an easy or secret solution to everything, take it from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG, as she is known in the hip world, would say, he’s a faker and he’s not fooling anyone, certainly not Corker.
What Corker did this week is an important service to the nation but it’s not enough. It needs to be followed up with some concrete action. The presidency is not a remediation class where some incompetent person goes over and acts his wildest power-trippy fantasies. This is a serious job and nobody, certainly not Trump, should be allowed to diminish and disrespect the position and imperil our position in the world and our national security. The presidency must be treated with utmost respect and if a president is not willing to grow into the job and perform to expectation he should quit or be removed. Trump has fallen way below expectation and he has no business continuing to hold the position.
Corker can help by becoming the voice of cowardly GOP senators and making sure all the investigation into Trump campaign and Russian interference into the 2016 election goes on unimpeded. He can speak openly against allowing Trump to carry out his vendetta against his predecessor President Barack Obama and dismantling his policies without caring about how it impacts people benefitting from the policies.
And lastly, Corker should not let Trump continue to serve if he believes, ten months since inauguration that Trump is incapable of “displaying the competencies required to be successful” as president. He should encourage his friends in the cabinet, to invoke the 25th Amendment, on grounds that Trump does not have the temperament to hold the nuclear codes. The world needs someone to stop Trump from starting a nuclear war to assuage his ego. Allowing Trump to continue as president is a betrayal of his conscience and makes nonsense of all his statements against Trump so far. This is not going to be an easy task, but he owes it to the survival of this nation to mobilize the GOP to save it. He must try.
There is something refreshing about Corker’s attacks on Trump. He is not mean. In fact according to the New York Times, he repeatedly said Trump was his friend and he wished him no harm. Moving forward this is the template to follow for anyone who is attacked by Trump.
To criticize Trump effectively, you don’t have to go down to his gutters. Let him play in the sewer, it’s what he does. Focus on important matters. Not his little hands. You have to be ready for his attack and prepare your response. Remember a Trump attack comes with access to the biggest platform in the world. Use it wisely.
Ask him about his tax returns and why he has not released them. Ask him why he has not implemented sanctions on Russia despite having signed the sanction bill sent to him month ago in response to Russia’s interference of 2016 Presidential elections. Ask Trump why he has not been supportive of Puerto Rico during the hurricane season. Ask him why his son-in-law Jared Kushner still has security clearance despite his application for clearance having what has been described as “unprecedented level of mistakes.”
You can also go the funny but sad route with this. You can ask Trump if healthcare is still complicated, ask him about his golf skills and remind him that he has played more golf than Obama and Bush combined by now despite making promises that he would be a workaholic president. You can ask him when the winning is going to start. We have waited for almost a year already and still nothing.
The bottom line is this. When Trump attacks you, don’t let the opportunity go to waste.