- The Washington Times - Monday, December 24, 2018

Sen. Bob Corker is leaving office at the end of this term — and, given his ongoing Twitter spat with President Donald Trump, taking a “sour grapes” award with him.

What’s happening?

Corker, never one to agree with Trump, has come out in disagreement once again, this time over the budget impasse that’s marked the building and funding of the border wall.

On Sunday, Corker took to national television to characterize the funding fight and subsequent government shutdown as a “made-up fight” — as in something to occupy the White House’s time. That, despite the fact that Trump long-promised on the campaign trail to build a wall and to have Mexico pay for it.

But Corker said this, on “State of the Union” on CNN: “This is a made-up fight so the president can look like he’s fighting, but even if he wins, our borders are going to be insecure.”

And all the voters go: So why don’t you secure them, Bob?

Regardless — he’s leaving office, having announced retirement in mid-2017.

After Corker’s public attack, Trump responded via Twitter.

Senator Bob Corker just stated that, ‘I’m so [privileged] to serve in the Senate for twelve years, and that’s what I told the people of our state that’s what I’d do, serve for two terms.’ But that is Not True — wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him …,” Trump tweeted.

And then he followed it with another: “… Bob Corker was responsible for giving us the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal, which I ended, yet he badmouths me for wanting to bring our young people safely back home. Bob wanted to run and asked for my endorsement. I said NO and the game was over. #MAGA I LOVE TENNESSEE!”

Corker’s people dispute Trump’s account, of course. And Corker replied to Trump’s tweet with one of his own, that read, “Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall … #AlertTheDaycareStaff.”

Yes, Corker is a Republican.

But here’s what FiveThirtyEight had to say about Corker’s announced retirement, though, back in September of 2017: “In a statement, the senator, who has found himself increasingly at odds with President Trump, said he hadn’t planned to serve more than two terms in office. But is there more at work in the departure of this influential senator than simple adherence to a self-imposed term limit?”

Smart money says yes.

Corker is a key [Mitch] McConnell ally,” the polling site went on. “Corker, who was once considered a top contender to be secretary of state, raised Trump’s ire by criticizing the president after Trump failed to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville. … [I]t’s possible that Corker was eyeing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s rough polling numbers in his contested primary and biting his nails. The Trumpian wing of the Republican Party seems to pick off establishment figures … and Corker’s decision to bow out could be read as something of a victory for the president.”

It’s a who-you-gonna-believe scenario.

But Corker’s leaving. Trump’s not. And Corker’s voluntary exit, coming as it does with a wave of attacks on the president on very public platforms, gives the appearance of being a bit sullen — a bit tainted by petty resentment and political elitism.

What well-placed, well-entrenched, well-protected senator voluntarily leaves the cushiness of Capitol Hill, anyway?

“Although Corker might well have stepped aside to avoid a brutal primary challenge,” FiveThirtyEight wrote, “he seems unlikely to go gentle into that good night. The statement announcing his decision contained a rather interesting little passage: ‘I also believe the most important public service I have to offer our country could well occur over the next 15 months, and I want to be able to do that as thoughtfully and independently as I did the first 10 years and nine months of my Senate career.’ “

If what Corker meant by “most important public service” was publicly attacking Trump — well then, his sour grapes award is well-deserved.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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