And the fact that the Times and many other pundits are immediately taking this Corker-Trump feud as a sign that the Trump tax-reform plan may be doomed in the Senate is another example of how messed up things have become. Their willingness to lump in trying to avoid World War III with corporate tax rate schedules shows how insincere they may be about truly worrying about a cataclysmic war.
That's the kind of message that hurts us with other nations. If we don't seem serious, it's a boost for them. As scary as Iran and North Korea truly are, the president's actions and comments may not be as incendiary as Corker and others say. Even Michael O'Hanlon of the moderate-to-left-leaning Brookings Institution said today that he believes that the White House is potentially promoting a very good strategy of making sure Pyongyang and Tehran don't get too comfortable.
Again, none of this means that Republicans, Democrats, White House staffers, or even Trump family members shouldn't express real concerns about the way the president is communicating or his actual policies. But doomsday scenario-laden interviews in the New York Times aren't the way to do it and that should be beyond clear to everyone now.
This wouldn't be the first time other nations have clung to internal discord in hopes of undermining a sitting president's tougher policies against them. The Soviets furiously tried to fuel liberal critiques of President Reagan as a war monger during the 1980s in the face of an increased U.S. military buildup in Europe and the development of the "Star Wars" antimissile program. Those scare tactics bled into every part of the national discourse, even the entertainment media with the 1983 TV movie "The Day After" after a U.S.-Soviet nuclear war being the absolute height of angst and fear.
But after Reagan's landslide re-election victory in 1984 and the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev to power in the USSR, those efforts took a backseat to serious negotiations that led to an end to the Cold War.
It's way too early for even the most fervent Trump supporters to insist the same happy results will come from this president's tougher talk and potential actions. But we do already know that when necessary political opposition and criticism morphs into doomsday scare tactics, the constructive element fades away quickly.
If Senator Corker and his peers really want to bring us further back from the brink of war and promote restraint, they should start exhibiting more of their own.
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.
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