Two Republican senators aligned with President Trump have been engaged in a war of words of epic proportions over the past week over an unrelated issue. But it appears the agita has had little to do with Congress’s role in the long-running migrant caravan. Instead, it’s a personal feud over people and policy.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, his party’s prodigal son, whose bill to repeal and replace Obamacare was torpedoed last year in an embarrassing and unsustainable climatic letdown, is no stranger to poison-pen invective, having famously called Trump “a blowhard, a narcissist and a boor.” His recent quarrel with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is clearly the culmination of a simmering feud between the pair, both of whom were elected in 2010 after watching a Democratic Senate dominated by Ted Kennedy take the easy way out. The disloyalty Trump enjoys toward those who cross him has brought Corker and Rubio back together, settling scores long overdue, in the form of a full-blown argument about immigration policy.
Their feud took a new, and slightly ludicrous, turn this week when Rubio posted an exasperated tweet chastising Corker for trying to represent “the entire US military” and castigating his fellow Republican for “consistently voting against the security of our nation.” At a time when the president* is threatening to invade Syria, expanding the war in Afghanistan and pummeling North Korea with biting rhetoric, it may be difficult to defend an emphasis on limiting immigration.
Rubio then took out his frustration on Mike Lee, his caucus’s lonely advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. “You’ve ignored the issues affecting the families of military personnel. You’ve neglected to mention the 3,000 people who died from illegal immigrants last year,” Rubio said, referring to the number of deaths associated with illegal border crossings last year. “If you disagree with this, then please explain why you aren’t willing to work with those who stand with the president.”
These tweets are nothing new for the two senators. This time the Twitter screen-prattle was taken up by S.E. Cupp, a conservative television talk show host and veteran Fox News contributor. Cupp summed up her disgust with the Menendez attack with one tweet: “#MAGA? @SenCorker_TN does not stand for Anything @SenRubio or @FLSenDeutch stand for either, & McConnell should let them put aside their stupid personal beef and do the work of the country.”
This is, of course, what is known as “the Washington game,” where people negotiate, get out their personal vendettas and then repeat the cycle. There may be no change for voters, but as Congress looks toward the midterms it looks like the party still in power will not be able to find any meaningful bipartisan cooperation.
*- Unless he decides to run for re-election. And then there’s the 2020 race.