Washington (CNN)Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican, is the new hero of the anti-Trump movement after a series of comments over the last 48 hours blasting his party for its unwillingness to stand up to President Donald Trump.
“We’re in a strange place,” Corker told reporters Wednesday. “It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? It’s not a good place for any party to have a cult-like situation as it relates to a President that happens to be purportedly of the same party.”
Those comments came less than 24 hours after Corker drew headlines for his call to action from the Senate floor. “We might poke the bear!” said Corker sarcastically. “My gosh, if the President gets upset with us we might not be in the majority.”
Finally! the anti-Trump crowd cried. A Republican speaking truth to power!
Eh. Here’s the thing about Corker: He’s retiring at the end of this year.
How is this not mentioned more?
And why is there little mention of the fact that Corker’s feud with Trump — which, in Corker’s defense, was largely one-sided — clearly hurt the Tennessee incumbent’s chance of winning another term and played at least some role in his decision not to run again?
Or that when he reconsidered his retirement decision, it became clear that conservative Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn — a Trump favorite — was not only not dropping out, but might even be the front-runner in a primary against Corker?
Those facts don’t invalidate Corker’s past criticism of Trump or current scolding of his colleagues for not being willing to stand up to the President. But they do make clear that Corker isn’t throwing caution — and his political career — to the wind to take a stand on principle.
At age 65 and having already served as the mayor of Chattanooga and a US senator, Corker is almost certainly done running for any more elected offices. Which means he is totally free to say what he really thinks, without fear or care of the consequences.
That’s a very different place than most of Corker’s soon-to-be former colleagues in Congress — most of whom aren’t planning to leave anytime soon.
The Point: Corker’s outspokenness has to be leavened with the political reality that he isn’t ever going to run for anything ever again. That makes his statements a little bit less noble than the anti-Trump forces would like to make them.