By The Editorial Board
Oct. 9, 2017 7:01 p.m. ET
Donald Trump’s weekend Twitter spat with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is a familiar story: The President is a Party of One for whom personal loyalty is the only test. He isn’t going to change, so the meaningful question is how Republicans should navigate his periodic explosions to help the country and maintain their majorities in Congress.
Mr. Trump unleashed his tirade because he is still sore that Mr. Corker said this summer that the President hadn’t shown the stability or competence to be successful. The two later had it out in the Oval Office, but Mr. Corker stood by his words. And why shouldn’t he?
Mr. Corker was expressing views that are widely held on Capitol Hill and even within the Trump Administration. These men and women support the President’s policies, or at least most of them, and they remain in their jobs for the good of the cause and country. What they fear, and want to contain, are the President’s lack of discipline, short fuse, narcissism and habit of treating even foreign heads of state as if they are Rosie O’Donnell.
In other words, Mr. Corker was trying to be helpful by telling the truth. And he has standing to do so because he has tried to steer Mr. Trump in a constructive direction without personal grandstanding. He agreed to interview for Vice President until he withdrew from the running. He might have agreed to be Secretary of State had he been asked. And as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee he has had numerous private discussions with the President on a variety of national security subjects.
He is like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in engaging Mr. Trump even as he tells the President things he doesn’t like to hear. We hope they and others keep it up, understanding that doing so is difficult and might make them a target of the President’s wrath.
The other priority for Republicans has to be to keep their eye on good policy and fulfilling their campaign promises. The Senate’s ObamaCare failure has been so damaging because it gave Mr. Trump an incentive to promote a betrayal-by-the-establishment narrative while absolving his own weakness as a political persuader.
It also gave ammunition to Steve Bannon and his Breitbart propaganda arm to run more primary candidates against Republican Senators next year. As a force of permanent opposition, the Bannonites might prefer to have Democrats running Congress.
The only plausible Republican strategy now is to keep pressing good policies, and in particular to pass a strong, pro-growth tax reform. Some Members might think they can hurt Mr. Trump by blocking reform, but the President will merely blame Republicans and gladly work with Democrats if they take back the House and Senate in 2018. Mr. Corker recently worked with Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) to allow $1.5 trillion in budget room over 10 years for tax reform, and we hope he continues to play a constructive role even as he plans to leave the Senate at the end of this term.
The more Congress and the Cabinet can accomplish on their own, the less hostage they will be to Mr. Trump’s impulsive turns.