Befitting the pragmatic construction man he was in a far-off life and the equally pragmatic mayor of a grubby-collared industrial town he was in a less-far-off one, Sen. Bob Corker rarely minces his words.
Which isn’t to say he is brusque — he is not — but when he has a spell of loquaciousness, it’s usually in service of explanation rather than equivocation.
After weeks on the Sunday wonk-show circuit calling for a comprehensive deal on the so-called fiscal cliff, the Republican — like many of his colleagues who had expressed similar misgivings — cast a vote in favor of the deal hashed out by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Corker told CNBC he wasn’t exactly thrilled by the vote.
“I looked at the policy of where we were going to be if we didn’t pass it, or where we would be if we did. While it was like eating a you-know-what sandwich to vote for this, to me it was a rite of passage.”
A “you-know-what sandwich”?
You mean, like a Reuben, the deal was an amalgam of disparate, even disgusting parts that have no business being thrust together thus, but somehow mesh and meld into a satisfying treat?
Without building the entire hoagie, it’s apparent the junior senator was euphemistically referring to unappealing lunchtime fare, force-fed through Congress and unwillingly digested by even its most ardent opposers.
The byproduct of said slider (ALERT: we’re going to switch metaphors here for a second) is a can kicked down the road to a new, more precipitous “fiscal cliff” later this spring — a bluff made more dangerous by being twinned with a debt ceiling debate. The takeaway for most Americans — who, this being a republic, are forced to eat whatever their elected representatives decide to consume — is an end to the payroll tax holiday and 2 percent of their take-home pay washed away.
And none of this came with any significant measures to address spending or, really, any long-term solution to entitlement payments.
Thus, Corker scarfed down his less-than-delectable treat like a good soldier. And, for better or worse, we’ll have what he’s having.
Meanwhile, in the more cantankerous House of Representatives, Memphis Democrat Steve Cohen was the lone Tennessean who voted for the bill. None of the state’s seven Republicans — a lot far more conservative than their party colleagues Corker and Lamar Alexander — said aye, nor did Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper.
The doggiest canine in the rump of the Blue Dog Caucus, Nashville’s representative couldn’t deign to say yes to a bill that he thought failed to adequately address the debt and deficit.
He used a more family-friendly term than Corker — Cooper called it a “Band-Aid” — but whether the New Year’s deadline vote was a G-rated bandage or a PG-13 grinder, no one seems thrilled with the outcome: a mediocre mishmash created to solve a problem Congress made for itself.
And now Americans don’t have choice but to eat the results.