Periodically, the left wing political pundits find a member of the GOP that they like. Unlike conservatives, this person will not be a wild-eyed fanatic with a 5-gallon can of gas and a Zippo. This person will be nuanced. They will be Reasonable. They will see the big picture. Most important, they don’t really believe all that Constitution and individual liberty hokum. They are in politics to govern the underclasses and lead them to enlightenment. He is there to Make It Happen. To Get Stuff Done. It doesn’t matter much what the IT or STUFF is, the important thing is that he MAKES IT HAPPEN. For the longest time the Reasonable Republican in favor was John McCain. Anytime the press wanted a pithy quote slammimg other members of the GOP they would beat a path to the door of John McCain. Now the favorite Reasonable Republican is Tennessee [mc_name name=’Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001071′ ].
Restraint might not seem like it would come easily for Corker. Through eight years in the Senate, Corker has burnished a frank persona, going toe-to-toe with Democrats, Republicans, even the president himself. He has chided the Senate for acting immature and described senators during a policy debate as “a bunch of midgets.” He questioned the “silly” bailout of automakers; he described a proposal from [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] to suspend the federal gas tax as “pandering extraordinaire”; and, during the 2013 government shutdown, he berated [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] on the Senate floor. Corker says he thought about quitting Congress midway through his first term because he was fed up with not being able to get much done. So often has he insulted fellow senators, it almost sounds believable.
But beneath the sharp tongue and air of disdain toward Washington is a man who believes in making a deal. A mayor and businessman before he became senator, Corker understands the value of a glib turn of phrase. But more often than not, the bluster seems like a bargaining ploy, a way of shaping the negotiations before the real work begins, out of sight and away from the microphones. It’s this philosophy that has lifted Corker to the chairmanship, and it’ll be what guides him now that he’s taken the gavel.
For this persona to work, you must be a fighter. Preferably a fighter against your own party. John McCain became a maverick not because he was fighting the growth of the regulatory and welfare state but because he constantly fought his own colleagues in what appeared to be a shameless pursuit of headlines, favorable editorials and Sunday-show appearances.
But Corker also wants it known that, away from the cameras, he’s still talking. That theatrics shouldn’t be confused with dogmatism. That despite all the clever turns of phrase and the bombast, he wants to be seen as someone who can broker a deal.
The dealmaker has been on full display as the Obama administration negotiates with Iran and Corker works on his own agreement with congressional Democrats. There’s been the familiar Corker accusing the White House for “stiff-arming” Congress. But then there’s the grown-up Corker who refused to sign Cotton’s letter.
Whatever differences Corker has had with Obama and the previous Democrat majority have been around the edges. Corker has voted with Obama’s preferences about 60% of the time. In the last Congress, despite criticizing Obamacare, he was one of 20 GOP senators who voted to fully fund it. To fully appreciate Corker’s record of being in favor of unrestrained spending and growth of government you need to fully appreciate his record. In his last reelection campaign, Tennessee Right to Life refused to endorse him. From TARP to Cash for Clunkers to supporting Obama’s lunacy in Syria, Corker has been nothing if not totally Reasonable.
So, now Corker has been anointed as a “grown-up” Corker. A Corker who understands that the terrorist regime in Tehran might get a nuclear weapon and is “grown-up” enough to understand that is okay. I hope Bob Corker enjoys his day in the sun because the first time he bucks Obama and the Senate Democrats he’s going to be surprised just how quick his new best friends turn on him.