America has never had a president more dishonest than Donald J. Trump.
Love him, hate him, or find yourself among the three or four Americans who remain indifferent to him, but that much is indisputable. Honesty and presidential politics have never gone exactly hand-in-hand, but there’s never been an occupant of the Oval Office who handles the truth as recklessly as Trump — never one who tells lies, large or small, with such confidence even as he must know that they’re going to be picked apart by the news media.
There are countless examples, obviously, but the most recent involves Trump’s Christmas weekend tirade at retiring U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Corker has been one of the most vocal Republican critics of the president, and he criticized Trump again last week over the president’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. As is almost always the case when someone criticizes the president’s policies, Trump took it to the gutter, making it personal.
“Senator Bob Corker just stated that, ‘I’m so priveledged (sic) to serve in the Senate for twelve years, and that’s what I told the people of our state that’s what I’d do, serve for two terms.’ But that is Not True – wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
In a separate tweet, the president added, “Bob Corker was responsible for giving us the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal, which I ended, yet he badmouths me for wanting to bring our young people safely back home. Bob wanted to run and asked for my endorsement. I said NO and the game was over. #MAGA I LOVE TENNESSEE!”
But as Weston Wamp — son of former Republican congressman Zach Wamp of Chattanooga and a former Republican congressional candidate himself — pointed out, “Corker didn’t have a serious opponent and was a lock for re-election.”
Corker himself jumped into the fray on Twitter. In response to Trump’s tweet about Corker’s numbers tanking when the president refused to endorse him, Corker said: “Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall… #AlertTheDaycareStaff”
On Monday, Corker’s press secretary distributed an AP story via email, one which picked apart the president’s claims.
As the AP pointed out, Corker “was actually a leading opponent of the (Iran) deal, arguing at the time “that Obama should have made the international pact a treaty subject to approval by the Senate.” When Obama didn’t do that, the AP added, “Corker helped fellow senators write legislation that subjected the accord to periodic congressional review. The legislation would have blocked the deal if that effort got enough votes. It didn’t. Obama brought the deal into effect, not Congress.”
As for Corker’s decision to not seek re-election, it is well-known and has been often reported that Trump urged Corker to seek re-election during a private meeting in September 2017. The president also called Trump afterward to ask him to reconsider his decision to retire from the Senate. In that phone call, Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, told the AP, Trump “reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times.”
There are plenty of Republicans who are happy to see Corker leaving the Senate, and happier still that he’s being replaced by a hardcore conservative, Marsha Blackburn. But the fact that ideologue-driven Republicans didn’t like Corker’s moderate approach wouldn’t have cost Corker his seat, as Wamp pointed out on Christmas Eve. Lamar Alexander, long seen as a moderate, has long drawn the ire of conservatives — in fact, they were so angry at his original decision to seek election to replace Fred Thompson that they vigorously opposed him. It didn’t matter, and it hasn’t stopped him from earning re-election since. Nor would the anger of hardcore Trump supporters have stopped Corker from being re-elected. He was a virtual shoe-in.
I’ve defended Trump when the situation calls for it, and I’ve criticized him when the situation calls for it. I’m not simply “anti-Trump.” But I am vexed that so many conservatives are willing to overlook his blatant lying, simply because he “isn’t Hillary.” It’s a shame that politics have come to this in America. It’s not making us better.
As for Corker, it isn’t as though he’s a constant opponent of Trump. He, too, has supported the president when support has been warranted. That isn’t good enough for Trump and too many of his supporters, who expect all Republicans to march lock-step with the president. That isn’t the way our government is supposed to work, not the way it should work. Again, it’s a shame that politics have come to this in America.