A few years ago, Charles Krauthammer published an excellent book entitled Things That Matter. That title for this post, with the parenthetical “(In Politics)” won out over the first runner-up, “Wake up, Bob!” It’s a shame that our elected leaders can’t just “tell it like it is” rather than have to tiptoe through the mechanics of how our government actually works realizing that anything they say can be twisted into something entirely different. Outgoing Senator Bob Corker knows as well as anybody in Washington that a Republican loss of their razor-thin one-seat Senate majority, even if they keep their House majority, will clinch at least two more years of deadlock — and that retention of or even a strengthening of their Senate and House majorities will at least not worsen the current situation and maybe even make it much better. I also believe he is an honest man, a businessman who did a reasonably good job of wading through The Swamp during the past twelve years to become about as effective as a Senator as it is possible to be these days. Unfortunately, being an honest man and being an effective elected official — even if not seeking re-election and on the way out — is like walking a tightrope from a political perspective.
From a Republican perspective, Corker’s very tepid endorsement of Representative Marsha Blackburn— who is viewed as a shoo-in for the Republican nomination — is problematic. Although Tennessee is considered solid Republican territory, her opponent in the General Election will almost certainly be Democrat Phil Bredesen — a very popular previous Governor considered by many in both parties to have been a very effective one as well. Corker has even been quoted recently as referring to him as “a very good mayor, a very good governor, a very good business person.”
Words Matter — Both The Articulated Ones And The Omitted Ones
I believe very firmly — and have written about this quite a bit in my posts to this Blog — that a New Paradigm is well on the way to “taking over” as the Current Paradigm. Unfortunately, the current political environment is still in the Old Paradigm — hanging on by its fingernails, but nonetheless still setting the ground rules. This, coupled with ideological polarity that has become more entrenched than it’s ever been in my lifetime, has essentially neutered our system of government — the commonly-used phrase for referring to this condition being deadlock.
Until the New Paradigm can pry loose the white-knuckled fingers of this political component of the Old Paradigm and let it fall to the bottom of the ravine between the paradigms, we have to live with the way things are, and endorsement of a non-incumbent by an outgoing incumbent is important when the outgoing incumbent is popular and viewed as having been successful. Corker is such an outgoing incumbent.
Corker’s above-mentioned remarks about Bredesen, even though true in my opinion, could cost Blackburn votes she would otherwise have definitely gotten just because she’s a Republican and has a pulse [nothing negative toward her intended — in my opinion, she’s one of the sharpest knives in the House drawer]. In a race as tight as this one could turn out to be because she faces a Democrat several links up the food chain from the typical Democrat running in Tennessee [usually just placeholders because nobody thinks they’re going to win anyway], any such loss of votes from her “base” could cost her the election.
Corker appeared on CNN recently and made similar positive comments about Bredesen while offering a very tepid endorsement for Blackburn. He didn’t even mention Blackburn by name, but said he had sent the maximum campaign contribution to “the Republican nominee on our side,” adding that he plans to vote “for this person.” When CNN’s Dana Bash suggested that he did not seem very enthusiastic about Blackburn, Corker replied: “Well, Dana, you know I’m supporting the nominee. I’ve worked with the nominee for some time, and I don’t know what else to say.”
Enter “Spin” And Media Bias …
Enter at least two of the most liberal media outlets in the country to maximize spin from Corker’s political screwup [or successful attempt to purposely increase the odds of a flip of his Senate seat — I really don’t want to entertain that thought]. A CNN recap of that interview featured this caption: Corker gives worst endorsement of all time. A USA Today article carried the headline Democrats cheer Senator Corker’s praise for Bredesen.
Corker [who was Mayor of Chattanooga when Bredesen was Governor] was quoted in media coverage as saying that he has worked well with Bredesen in the past, considers him a friend and will not campaign against him this fall — and that he intends to vote for Blackburn but suggested Bredesen could appeal to some Republicans in November. “I think he’s got real appeal — I don’t think it, I know it,” Corker said.
Well, I won’t bother with the mechanics of changing the title of this post, but as I wrap up writing the content I’m tempted to go back to the first runner-up, “Wake up, Bob!”
It’s Just Simple Current-Paradigm Math
It will be very interesting to see how the mid-term elections go this November. If statisticians, pollsters and pundits are proven wrong [as they were in the 2016 elections] and Republicans actually increase their margins of legislative majority — particularly in the Senate — we could be in for some really big strides for the better in this country. If they’re proven right and Republican majorities are weakened or even lost, we might as well all get ready for at least two more years of even worse deadlock than we had during Obama’s second term and have had so far in Trump’s first term.
I certainly hope Senator Corker’s politically stupid remarks don’t become one of the things we look back on after the November 6 elections and number among the things that caused the statisticians, pollsters and pundits to be proven right in their predictions.
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Charles M. Jones