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Horowitz: Corker Sounds Alarm We Should All Heed

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Rob Horowitz

In the wake of the dust-up created by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly calling President Trump a “moron’’, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)  sounded an alarm about the potential danger to our national security created by Trump’s performance in office—a stark warning that demands our attention. Corker stated that members of Trump’s national security team, such as Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are “those people that help separate our country from chaos.”   Corker sounded a similar--- if not quite as pointed--note when he criticized Trump soon after Charlottesville:" The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

Senator Corker’s warning should be taken seriously. After all, he is not a bomb-throwing partisan Democrat intent on scoring political points against a president of the opposing party; he is the Republican Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, widely respected on both sides of the aisle and known for measuring his words carefully.   He was considered by President Trump for the post of Secretary of State and has a truly informed and up close view of the interactions between Trump and his national security team.

Given the growing tensions with North Korea and the possibility President Trump will take action this week that could begin to unravel our Nuclear Deal with Iran, Trump’s chaotic approach to foreign policy combined with his refusal to do the essential work of learning about the details and the context of these different flashpoints is particularly problematic.  To put it simply, as Corker warns, leaving the President to his own devices could result in disaster.

As James Mann, a long-time observer of national security teams, writes in the most recent edition of the New York Review of Books, this ups the importance of the so-called “adults in the room.”   Whether we agree or disagree with Kelly, McMaster, Mattis or Tillerson, these are intelligent men of demonstrated maturity and expertise.   More to the point,  they are our “Thin Blue Line.”  We must count on them to curtail the immaturity and impulsiveness of President Trump, who every day demonstrates his unfitness to be Commander in Chief.

This weekend Trump predictably attacked Corker in a series of tweets that actually made the Senator’s point for him.  Trump falsely said that Corker decided not to run for re-election because Trump refused to back him, when it has been widely reported that Trump had repeatedly told him that he would endorse him and had even called him after his decision to try to change his mind.   Corker’s  tweet in response was perfect and it unfortunately, rings all too true: “It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

That was the point of Corker’s warning—one that we all ignore at our peril.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


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