Friday, December 12, 2008

Sen. Corker - Very Effective and Very Dangerous: My Way or the Highway

1. Corker will run for President.

2. He has proven himself to be incredibly effective as a politician, both in getting what he wants and in putting a positive spin on it. If only Reid had half his skill, the Democratic minority, and majority, might actually have accomplished something these past years. But Conservative commitment to their goals remains much stronger than Democratic commitments to their values. And Ron Gettelfinger is vastly outgunned and out maneuvered by Corker and, quite frankly, does not know how to sell his case. (He continually talks in generalities rather than in the specifics that would strengthen his case).

3. What makes him effective? He clothes his ideological rigidity in a combination of southern charm and seeming reasonableness.

4. What did Corker do that was so effective? First, he put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the UAW by insisting that only 3 words stood between success and failure. And to him, of course, those 3 words were reasonable. He also lied in his news conference, something easy to do because our media don't bother to watch C-SPAN. In the interview I saw on C-SPAN, he insisted that "any date certain" would have been fine. On the floor, he insisted on a date in 2009. In the caucus, apparently, he had insisted on Mar. 31, 2009. And it was "parity" not "competitive" that I heard on the floor. It didn't occur to any of his interviewers to suggest that if it was "only 3 words", he could have ceded. After all, that's what bargaining is: give and take. There were, to him, three key provisions. The UAW accepted the others. But 2 out of 3 wasn't good enough. So Corker essentially told the UAW that "it's my way or the highway", and he sold it in such a way that nobody realized that he, not the UAW, was even more guilty of refusing to bend.

Corker and his fellow Southern Senators made clear during the hearings, which I also watched on C-SPAN ( again, something that nobody at CNN or MSNBC or NBC apparently ever thinks to do)), that they opposed bailouts in general and this one in particular. Corker was forceful in his opinion that Chrysler was just waiting to be bought (rather obviously true) and that GM was doomed to fail. Give him credit for being one of the few Senators/Reps. in the hearings who realized that Ford did not need a loan but simply a line of credit and, then, only in case the recession was even worse than anticipated or one of the other companies failed.

I suspect that those "3 words" were added specifically so the Republicans could torpedo the legislation and blame it on the UAW. And Corker has pretty much succeeded in both objectives. Which is why he is somebody that Democrats should both fear and emulate.

What else was Corker able to do? He was able to laugh at the idea of a "Car Czar" while at the same time taking upon himself the role of a "Car Czar" and a bankruptcy judge. Corker turned himself into judge and jury. He alone understands the reality and he alone knows the solutions. For a man who, at other times, argues strongly against Government micro-management of business (esp. when it comes to environmental matters), that is exactly what he did. And our useless media, of course, let him get away with it.

One last thing: he managed to hide the fact that his plan required GM and Chrysler to prove their viability in 3 months. Given the state of the economy, that is incredibly unrealistic. It was just another way to ensure that GM and Chrysler would fail - and the failure would be seen to be theirs alone, not something helped along the way by the Southern Republicans.

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