The other morning, US Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, submitted to questioning by a group of political junkies of all stripes on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program.
Jumping out of the box, Corker placed the blame for all the troubles in the world at the feet of Barack Obama and his one-time secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. The senator was in mid-crescendo with his passionate assertion that a Clinton presidency would present an affront to all that is good and decent about our country when his questioners had had enough. Moderator Joe Scarborough broke in and turned the discussion to the presidential campaign and the sayings of Chairman Don, the GOP’s presumed nominee.
As a candidate, Donald Trump has attained sui generis status: There is no one like him on the 2016 political landscape. After announcing for president a year ago this month, he has spent his time spewing volleys of insults at anyone – Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, women, Latinos, Muslims, federal judges, celebrated Vietnam-era US POWs, rally transgressors, et al. – who offends his righteous sense of himself.
Most recently, he has asserted that a federal judge who was born in Indiana and who served honorably, and perilously, as a US official combating Mexican drug lords cannot rule fairly in a civil case involving Trump and his controversial university because the jurist is of Mexican heritage.
At this point, this declaration seems to have risen above the everyday fusillade of dreck that has set apart the Trump campaign since last June. On the Morning Joe program, Sen. Corker called it a “hair-on-fire” moment before he deigned to lay out his position as a leading figure in the GOP: While he is calling out the candidate for his remarks about the judge, he is at the same time hoping that Trump, as the party’s sanctified leader, will “pivot” away from what he has been saying and steady things in the general election campaign, thereby saving the nation and the world from the serial depredations of Hillary Clinton.
Corker expressed that hope repeatedly, stressing the word “pivot” each time. And his questioners nodded agreeably while never getting to what exactly a Donald Trump “pivot” would involve.
In most campaigns, a pivot usually means that a candidate is adjusting this or that position to assuage the concerns of the vast middle section of the country’s electorate. But Trump doesn’t do electioneering as usual. In the unlikely event that he, who swept all before him in the primary campaign, were to follow his party chieftains’ advice, what would a “pivot” involve?
• A “never-mind” declaration by Trump that all previous statements and stances are inoperative going forward?
• Apologies to everyone he has maligned, starting with US Sen. John McCain who earned Trump’s disdain when he was shot down, captured, and imprisoned while fighting for his country in Vietnam?
• A promise to reassess his positions one by one and fill in the blanks that made them un-assessable in the primaries?
• A release of his tax returns?
More likely, past is prologue, and Bob Corker and his GOP party mates are living a pipe dream in hoping that Donald Trump will “pivot” away from what has gotten him to where he is today.