We read with interest a report that Sen. Bob Corker was roundly booed and jeered at by auto workers during the recent announcement that General Motors is bringing auto production back to the Spring Hill facility near Nashville. Being an engaged, activist politician is a two-edged sword. What you are hailed for one day could be what you are booed at for the next. Corker's response was to stand at the podium and take the heat for a reported 20 seconds. We respect him for that and for his thoughtful and informed stances on many key issues that affect our nation.
When GM closed the Saturn plant and eliminated the Saturn model from it U.S. auto lineup, most Spring Hill workers lost their jobs. Many people believed Corker was partly responsible for GM closing the plant because of this outspoken opposition to the auto industry bailouts. This newspaper criticized him for his stance at the time, and while we disagreed, we never lost respect for our senator.
Corker is a conservative senator, but more than that, he is a pragmatist. He is more interested in getting things done than in getting every last detail done his way. That is how progress is made, and these days it is a technique in dangerously short supply in Washington.
Corker's opposition to the auto bailouts was not an anti-government knee-jerk reaction, as it was with so many other lawmakers. Corker studied the issue in depth, talked to all the major players, and formed his opinions and his position based on facts. It is easy to forget that he was right about many of the things he said about the automakers. Indeed, following the bailouts, many of the things Corker said the industry needed to do were done, including replacing top managers.
Had the auto bailouts failed, Corker would have been hailed as a profit for taking a hard-line stand against them. But the bailouts succeeded. To his credit, he remained engaged in the issue and continued to work toward bring jobs back to Spring Hill. We believe that speaks to his commitment to getting things done, not just getting his way. For his trouble, he was booed and jeered at — the proverbial other edge of the activist sword.
We continue to believe Corker is one of the best informed, thoughtful and pragmatic leaders in Congress. His position on key issues such as the economy, American foreign aid and the military rank among the most sensible in Washington.
Even when we disagree with him — and when he is the occasional target of boos better held for major league baseball umpires — we wish there were more like him in Washington