Opinion » Editorial

Corker and Alexander: Stumbling Toward Leadership?


So what have we here? In this space previously, we have lamented the evasions and relative silences from our state's two senators — Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker — regarding the out-of-control governmental efforts of billionaire ex-builder, President Donald Trump, who seems to be going about the business of running the country as if it were some sort of Lego project that he can't find all the pieces to and can't be bothered to look for.

Now it seems that both Alexander and Corker have, in fact, begun, however tentatively, to make remonstrations signaling at least a bit of discontent with the antics of The Donald. On the score of Trump's ill-advised executive order abruptly banning from these shores the populations of seven predominantly Muslim countries, Alexander had this to say, finally: "This vetting proposal itself needed more vetting. More scrutiny of those traveling from war-torn countries to the United States is wise. But this broad and confusing order seems to ban legal, permanent residents with 'green cards' and might turn away Iraqis, for example, who were translators and helped save lives of American troops and who could be killed if they stay in Iraq. And while not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one, which is inconsistent with our American character."

All very sensible, even if filtered by an excess of caution that is all too typical of Alexander. His statement was followed forthwith by one from home-state Senate colleague Corker: "We all share a desire to protect the American people, but this executive order has been poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders. The administration should immediately make appropriate revisions, and it is my hope that, following a thorough review and implementation of security enhancements, that many of these programs will be improved and reinstated."

This statement too, is much tempered by a wish to be diplomatic toward someone who is, after all, not only a newly installed president but the titular leader of the Republican Party, to which both senators are duty-bound to show homage.

Previously, Corker and Alexander had each, however back-handedly, expressed reservations about the rush by Trump and, for that matter, several members of the congressional Republican leadership to eviscerate and hastily abandon the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) before a substitute could be concocted. The GOP continues to search for a plan that would at least simulate the advantages offered to the uninsured and under-insured populations by the ACA. Ultimately, though, each toed the party line.

Now, perhaps, they're a tad footsore from such exertions. It may even be that Senators Alexander and Corker are ready to join the likes of Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio in a readiness to talk truth to power, even if that power happens to bear the same party label as themselves.

Something might be lost in the process, but something more is to be gained. In this case, it might be some measure of public safety for the rest of us, and for Alexander and Corker themselves, a claim to real leadership.

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