Why is Bob Corker not seeking re-election?
If employees are dissatisfied with their boss, they quit. If senators are dissatisfied with the US president, they do not run for re-election - and let their displeasure run free in public. At least if the US President is Donald Trump.
After the influential Bob Corker, a second Republican senator, Jeff Flake, announced on Tuesday that he would no longer run in 2018. The announcement came as a surprise and the 54-year-old used the media attention to settle accounts with the US president.
Flake, a senator from Arizona, was already a constant critic of Trump and had even addressed his aversion to the new republican populism in his own book ("Conscience of a Conservative"). On Tuesday he called on politicians from the Senate lectern to "never view the regular and incidental undermining of our democratic norms and ideals as 'normal'". How can anyone explain all of this to their children? He asked, and immediately gave the answer himself: "I'm getting up today to say: enough." The behavior of the Republican President Trump is "dangerous for our democracy".
As a traditional conservative, he believes in a lean state and free markets, but also in free trade and that immigration is something positive. There is no longer any room in the Republican Party for this attitude. Politeness is extremely important in the Senate - so this speech would have been remarkable in its clarity if it had been given by an opposition politician. However, the fact that it comes from a member of the ruling party causes a small earthquake in Washington.
In fact, after the election in autumn 2018, Flake would have a bad chance of a seat in the Senate. According to polls, the base in the primary prefers the far-right candidate Kelli Ward, who enjoys the support of Breitbart boss Stephen Bannon. Trump himself had made no secret of looking for internal party challengers for Flake. In addition, the Senator was considered one of the shaky candidates who could lose an important seat to the Democrats. Some conservatives even interpret Flake's withdrawal as a victory for Trump.
"Trump is completely insincere"
Flake was not alone on Tuesday with his allegations against the US President. That morning, Bob Corker had already had a violent exchange of blows with the President. Since Corker, Senator from Tennessee, also announced that he would not run in 2018, he has not minced his mouth.
With a relaxed smile, Corker made no secret of the fact that he considers Trump to be the most brazen liar since Baron Munchausen in the CNN interview. "I think leaders around the world understand that most of what he says is not true," said Corker. Trump is "completely insincere". He should also better leave the crisis with North Korea to the professionals, said Corker, who chairs the foreign affairs committee. Trump's team in the White House must "find ways to control him."
Such statements are remarkable for incumbent senators who have the same party membership as the president. Corker was still one of the most ardent Trump supporters in the election campaign, now his soon retirement apparently gives him a new feeling of freedom. This freedom sets him apart from his Senate colleagues and MPs, who foreseeably want to be re-elected and therefore need the votes of Trump's relentless base.
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