There’s a basic difference between Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen, the two likely candidates facing each other Nov. 6 to succeed U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.
It’s their view of the job as a member of the world’s greatest deliberative body, as it was called during a junior high school civics class in the 1960s when this student was listening.
During political events when Blackburn first ran for Congress, she said she wanted the job so she could support George W. Bush’s agenda. Later it was to fight Barrack Obama. Now, as Blackburn spokesperson Andrea Bozek told the Associated Press, “We want to ensure President Trump has a reliable vote in the U.S. Senate.”
Bredesen was asked about such statements, described in civics class as the contrast between a leader and an errand boy; the former being a senator, the latter being a representative who might claim to be a legislator doing what the people want.
“I have a very different view of that,” Bredesen said. “The founders of this country set up a system of checks and balances; never intended for the Senate or the Congress to be foot-soldiers for any political party or any president.
“I think that view is exactly the wrong view of what a senator or a congressperson, or congresswoman or congressman is about. I don’t think they ought to be foot-soldiers for the president. I think they ought to support presidents when they’re doing things which are good for Tennessee and their constituents and they ought to oppose that person when they’re not, but not diminish themselves by just being a soldier for anybody.”
Attempts to contact Blackburn have been unsuccessful. The AP’s Feb. 14 story confirms the congressman’s consistent posture displayed in person and other ways. She’s spoken of the “leadership” she’s followed. Blackburn’s also behaved like loyal party members by holding private, invited-guests-only sessions, usually for fundraising. In recent months, she excluded the press from a program on telecommunications.
Blackburn has boldly said she’s doing what the people tell her they want. Now, she wants to be a U.S. senator.
Asked what he would do as a senator, Bredesen replied, “I don’t have any illusion about what one person is going to do in Washington, but one of the things that I would really like to do, is sort of be one more voice, I hope … to start getting rid of this hyper-partisanship we have … where people who ought be talking with one another, expressing maybe different views about how to solve a problem.
“They’re just shouting at each other across a room,” Bredesen told The Tennessee Tribune in the old Woolworth building on 5th Avenue downtown where the annual MLK Breakfast was held by the law firm of Bone McAllester Norton.
Bredesen wants to do “what Martin Luther King did … engage people in conversations about the ideals of this country … [It] is exactly the sort of thing we need to bring back to Washington.
“I don’t want to overstate what one person can do, but all it takes is a few senators who just refuse to go along with this hyper-partisanship and really say that we really need to start talking to each other, which has been happening and is something that Tennessee has been known for.”
If Congressman Blackburn is interested in a recorded interview, she knows where to call.