Of all the vows, pledges, and bonds born unto the human race, nothing overrides “The Code.” It is an unwritten but deeply important knowledge that men should abide with equal respect, fierce loyalty, and chivalrous understanding of one another. For example, The Code dictates you must not and can never date a good friend’s ex-girlfriend, or ex-wife. Rather, you respect your friend instead. Another decrees two male friends can hug one another but with each using but only one arm. Also this: Two male friends should never share a dessert in any restaurant – that’s simply never done. Bad karma among brothers, don’t you know.
The Code is how best friends act around each other. Never be serious when you can be flippant. Don’t ask if there is anything you can do – just show up instead. In times of grief, don’t talk … your presence says it all.
My dear friend Bob Corker just got himself cornered by The Code. One of the uppermost rules is “Never, ever, for any reason whatsoever… backstab a buddy.” Phil Bredesen, a Democrat running for Bob’s Senate seat, and Corker have shared The Code for at least 20 years and now the Republican Party is miffed because Corker will not stump for the party darling, Marsha Blackburn, at the expense of violating The Code with Bredesen. The Code is what matters most, every single time, among men with values.
Pay attention: In 2001 Bob Corker became the Mayor of Chattanooga and he was a dandy. In 2003 Phil Bredesen became the Governor of Tennessee for two terms, this until 2011. What Bredesen and Corker teamed together provided the impetus of Chattanooga’s revival … go ahead and see for yourself. Party affiliation meant little because each was intent on doing the best and the right thing for all of us – and this was together.
In 2006 Corker beat Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis by 51 percent and Bredesen, a fellow Democrat with Ford, knew Harold was a scamp. Bredesen realized that Corker was 10 times more of what the state of Tennessee needed. That said, you must be savvy to the fact Bredesen quietly helped Bob go to Washington.
Bredesen remained in the Governor’s chair for the next five years and, with Corker then in Washington, the tag-team was still intact and even more effective. Let there be no mistake – Phil Bredesen and Bob Corder have a Code-like friendship and, knowing Bob, neither Corker nor Bredesen would have anything to do with today’s Republican Senate nominee, the despicable Marsha Blackburn.
Case in point: Blackburn has served eight teams in the House of Representative and this weekend, when pushed about their relationship, Corker surely pursed his lips when he said, “She is an acquaintance. We’ve had little contact other than that.”
Hold your pose! I’m talking about a figurehead Senator and a Congresswoman, albeit whiney, from the same state. Is such angst and disjoined discourse best for the people? I’ve a hunch Corker actually distances himself from such people as Blackburn and rightly so, as you’ll find in the months to come. The Republican Party thinks it can foist an undesirable on the public but Corker is obviously repulsed and therefore a litmus paper for us all.
Conversely, just last week Corker said of Bredesen, who will be 75 when (and if) he takes the oath this fall: “I think he’s got real appeal – I don’t think it, I know it,” Corker told reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington. "The question is, in a state like ours that is still a red state, is it enough? I don’t know the answer to that.”
Corker said he intends to vote for Republican Marsha Blackburn in this year’s Senate race, but stressed again that he would not campaign against Bredesen. The Code will not allow it. Corker said he has had a good working relationship with Bredesen, who served two terms as governor and two terms as Nashville mayor.
“He was a very good mayor, a very good governor, a very good business person,” said Corker, who himself is a former mayor of Chattanooga. “Look, I’m not going to campaign against someone who I’ve been friends with and worked with.”
That’s why a Sunday diatribe with CNN’s Dana Bash was so wonderfully amusing that a copy has gone viral:
* * *
DANA BASH: This week, you called the Democratic candidate, Phil Bredesen — quote — “a friend, a very good mayor, a good governor, a good businessperson.”
Now, we are told that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told you in a private meeting that those comments could hurt the Republicans, unhelpful in the midterms.
Is Mitch McConnell right?
BOB CORKER: Look, I — I — it’s hard to believe that the leadership of the Senatorial Committee on the Republican side would even leak that story out to The Washington Post and cause you to ask me about it.
Look, I have sent the maximum contribution to the Republican nominee on our side. (Corker never said Marsha Blackburn’s name.) I have said I’m going to plan to vote for this person.
I was in a long meeting where I talked about the — they were asking me about Governor Bredesen. He is my friend. I’m not going to campaign against him, but I am supporting our nominee.
And somehow or another …
BASH: Can you tell me why Republican Marsha Blackburn is better to represent your state in Tennessee and take your seat than Phil Bredesen?
CORKER: Well, I think most people in our state — it is a red state — will focus on the first vote she makes.
And that is the vote to elect the majority leader. And I think, at the end of the day, that is going to be a big factor in the race.
But, Dana, the rest of the story wasn’t written during the interview I had with the Christian Science Monitor. And, somehow or another …
BASH: Senator, that’s not a ringing endorsement of Marsha Blackburn, to say that she should be elected just because she is going to vote for Mitch McConnell.
CORKER: Well …
CORKER: Dana, you know, I’m supporting the nominee. I have worked with the nominee for some time.
And I don’t know what else to say.
BASH: Okay, we will leave it there.
* * *
But neither the Washington nor Tennessee media is willing to let go. As one D.C. pundit wrote, “In fairness to Corker, nobody else has ever found good things to say about Marsha Blackburn either."
Blackburn’s role in promoting the “Dirty Lick” in Tennessee is absolutely appalling, as I have said and will write about many times, but last October she got deeply involved in legislation that undercut our Drug Enforcement Agency in the fight against bad drugs. It was portrayed on a Washington Post/60 Minutes broadcast and a Democratic spokesperson said at the time, “It’s no surprise that Rep. Blackburn would welcome the support of a dark-money organization like Citizens United. She’s been in Washington for 16 years doing the bidding of corporate special interests.”
Far worse, earlier this month the Republican Party of Tennessee disqualified seven Senatorial aspirants from the Republican ballot because they didn’t meet the party standards. The Senate candidates wiped off the ballot were David Anderson, Rashard Lamar Coker, Larry Crim, Tommy Hay, Theresa Honeycutt, J Darrell Lynn and Rolando Toyos. I think the voters should have been the judges but, no, they were disqualified by state party chairman Scott Golden, who – hello! -- worked on Blackburn’s staff before he disgraced the GOP.
Golden knows nothing of The Code. It is so far over Marsha Blackburn’s head that she would never think in such brain waves but, because of The Code, I cannot imagine a male in Tennessee who doesn’t respect, admire, and envy the friendship between two long-time friends who share a remarkable history.