Cooper: Prodding a president

Cooper: Prodding a president

August 19th, 2017 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., addresses the Rotary Club of Chattanooga at the Chattanooga Convention Center in August 2017.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Remarks by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., about President Donald Trump at the Rotary Club of Chattanooga Thursday may get him on the president's growing naughty list of fellow Republicans, but beyond the senator's remarks about "stability" and "competence" are words we believe are most important.

"[O]ur nation and our world need for him to be successful, whether you are a Republican or Democrat," he told club members.

Following eight years where a president governed against the majority domestically and backed the country down from playing a leadership role in the world, Trump came into office with an opportunity to, and the enthusiasm for, righting the ship.

He said he wanted to take on the challenges of health care program and tax reform, to shut off the Southern border from illegal immigration and to drive the country to "win again" on the foreign stage. It was music to the ears of his supporters and to those who sought a radical change from the divisive politics of the recent past.

Unfortunately, we've had seven months of distractions — Trump's entire term to date. Much of it has come from the left, whose visceral hate of the president for winning the election has caused it to attempt to drive a wedge between Trump and the country. But just as much as come from Trump, who has shown a penchant for speaking without thinking, who has to answer every critic and who apparently is unable to rise above the fray.

But the president must rise above the fray, which is what Corker was trying to say.

"The president," he said, "has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs in order for him to be successful. He's got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands [what made America great]. Without those things happening, our nation is going to go through great peril."

Corker, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, understands peril. It is within his daily purview to deal with the North Koreas, Russias and Islamic States of the world. He needs a stable Trump to help develop policies to deal rationally with those hot spots.

In the United States, meanwhile, Trump must be a leader of all the people, which means attempting to bring people together, especially when there is division. And that is what has brought the latest firestorm his way. Instead of trying to smooth feelings over the violent Charlottesville, Va., protest, in which one person died and others were injured, the president played into his critics' hands by doubling down on the various sources of the violence. Even if he could be said to be technically correct in some of what he said, it was not helpful to the process.

Corker, who has said before and said again Thursday that Trump has some solid team members in place, was trying to prod the man who leads the country to a better place. It would help Corker, sure, but, most importantly, the country and the world need him to be successful.

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