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Sen. Corker’s and Sen. Flake’s statements yesterday were astonishing and historic. In all my years I’ve never seen a sitting U.S. Senator criticize a president from his own party, not on policy grounds, but on grounds of moral and mental unfitness. Now we have, on the same day, not one, but two.

“I’ve seen no evolution in an upward way. It appears to me it’s almost devolving,” Corker said of Trump. Watching him, I thought that Corker wouldn’t be doing this without some a priori approval from party leadership, i.e. McConnell, sending him there as a kind of canary in the coal mine. But then Corker proceeded to undermine the seriousness of his own statement by telling the reporters around him how “unique” his own situation is. “Everyone will see this in a different way,” he said, or words to that effect: so that he isolated himself as a contrarian and enabled his Republican colleagues to argue that, Hey, that’s just Bob being Bob, the way they say, Hey, that’s just Trump being Trump. One might as well say, Hey, that’s just Hitler being Hitler.

Then there was Sen. Flake’s speech on the Senate floor. Truly remarkable: A Republican Senator virtually accusing a Republican President of the United States of America of treason. But it’s sad that Flake, like Corker, undermined the gravity of his own words, by announcing he will not run again.

Are Corker and Flake rara aves in the Senate, the only ones upset and worried? Or are they the spear point of a growing sentiment? No one knows. Probably McConnell himself—the most craven politician of our day–doesn’t know. It would depend on individual Republican Senators themselves knowing which way they stand. Corker and Flake do; most of the others, probably, are in flux; and even if they took a stand today, it could change by this time tomorrow, given their moral turpitude in the ebb and flow of the political winds. Anyone who has had to make decisions as part of a group understands this dynamic. As with a jury, there are some with their minds made up, although they may be made up in opposite ways. There are some in the squishy middle. There is no way to compel someone in the middle to choose one side or the other, without the imposition of an arbitrary rule: a vote on impeachment, for example. Lacking that, the middle will go on being squishy for a long time; and, rather than squishiness being uncomfortable, it’s really the comfort zone for politicians, the default position where they can be dinged, but not savaged.

The balancing act for Republicans, then, has been, and continues to be, to weigh the balance between achieving their political agenda, on the one hand, and their discomfiture with Trump, on the other. The two are in rough equilibrium, for the moment: Republicans inch towards “victory” (whatever that means) in such areas as taxes, the Wall, Iran, judges, or whatever, even as they murmur in the cloakroom about an out-of-control man, possibly insane, in the Oval Office, and admit, in their private conversations, that he has debased the Constitution.

One looks for glimpses of an end-game; in vain, however. I have searched the political horizon high and low for more than a year waiting for something to tilt the balance. Nothing has. Every time I think the situation is leaning towards Republicans turning on Trump, I read through the Comments at Breitbart—such raw sewage–and my heart sinks. Those people are willfully, brazenly stupid—their statements so patently ridiculous (“Trump never groped anyone, it was all a setup”) that one concludes they either are insane, or Russian trolls. Perhaps I should, for my own mental health, stop reading Breitbart; but not being aware of the existence of evil doesn’t make evil go away. It is better to know what the enemy is plotting, than to let them spin in the darkness.

It’s gratifying, of course, for The Resistance to have Corker and Flake say what they said; but then, they both will be gone from the Senate in 14 months. Are Corker and Flake merely isolated voices in the wilderness, or are they John the Baptist, heralding voices to come?


  1. Bob Rossi says:

    ” Perhaps I should, for my own mental health, stop reading Breitbart”
    Good idea. I read it once, because someone made it sound like Breitbart wasn’t so outrageous. I was appalled by what I saw there, both in their stories and the comments.
    And in addition to Corker and Flake, maybe you can add McCain, who also may be gone in the near future, one way or another. And maybe my Senator, Susan Collins.

  2. Bob Rossi: I guess I’m just a masochist, but like I wrote, I think it’s important to know exactly what the breitbart/KKK crowd is up to, distasteful as that is. Besides, I like posting provocative comments there. I freely and happily admit to being a troll. However, my trolling comments are in my own, real name. I’m not hiding behind an anonymous tag, or trolling for Russians. I just like poking fun at the stupendous stupidity and credulity of these breitbart people.

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