As a native Chattanoogan transplanted to Washington for half a century, and a historian and author of a number of books, I feel somewhat qualified in the rating of truly great Tennessee senators.
One of my first books of the 1960s, "The South Rejects a Prophet," was on Sen. David M. Key, a Confederate colonel in the Senate who crossed party lines.
In more recent years in Chattanooga, his lineage added Bill Brock, who was not only great as a senator and secretary but also, as head of his party after the Watergate scandal, literally rebuilt the party.
Not from Chattanooga, Tennesseans should take pride in Howard Baker's extraordinary tenure as Senate majority leader. In today's world, Chattanooga has been blessed and honored by the outstanding accomplishments of our own Sen. Bob Corker.
When the American people witness the U.S. House and Senate voting on post offices and flight delays in place of focusing efforts on creating jobs or balancing the budget, it doesn't take an expert to say that Congress is broken.
Most people agree that partisanship is to blame -- if only our lawmakers could just put aside partisan bickering to work together toward consensus building solutions, then we might finally see some real progress on the issues that are truly important to Americans.
Corker's example of working since age 13, graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and saving up to start his own business is the embodiment of the American dream. And yet, at a time when he could have expanded his businesses, he chose to go into public service.
I first came to know him in the 1990s while doing a project with Sen. Bill Frist on improving education throughout the state, and Corker was involved and was an unusually creative mayor of Chattanooga. He later was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, and has spearheaded efforts to deal effectively with the grave issues of our nation in this time of genuine crisis.
Typical of him being ahead of the game, Corker recently has worked with Democratic counterpart and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez to provide support and weapons to the Syrian rebels.
Americans should strive to elect representatives who not only have our values at heart, but are also willing to listen and work with the other side. Congress may be broken, but it doesn't have to be. We all should be more willing to "reach across the aisle," to have those conversations with our friends and neighbors which advance the national dialog.
We admire Corker for his integrity and his character, without which any effort at bipartisanship would surely have failed long ago.
David Abshire is a former United States Ambassador to NATO and cofounded the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
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