FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE BY BOB FRANKEN HILLARY PLAYING NIXON --- Let’s return to yesteryear. Richard Nixon, coming off an already bitterly controversial career and countless tangles with the media, had just been beaten in the 1962 campaign to ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. HILLARY PLAYING NIXON
  2. ANOTHER BLOOMBERG DALLIANCE
  3. BASEBALL STRIKES OUT
  4. BETO'S EVAPORATION
  5. DOG EAT DOG
  6. More Recent Articles

HILLARY PLAYING NIXON

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

HILLARY PLAYING NIXON
---
Let’s return to yesteryear. Richard Nixon, coming off an already bitterly controversial career and countless tangles with the media, had just been beaten in the 1962 campaign to become California governor. He was severely resentful, and snarled at reporters, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”
It became known as “the last press conference,” and “kick around” ranks right up there as one of the most famous quotes in politics, particularly since just six years later, Nixon was elected president of the United States.
Fifty-seven years later, the never-say-die Nixon spirit apparently hasn’t been lost on Hillary Clinton. Let’s make it, uj. perfectly clear: Nixon is not her shining role model. In fact, she began her career in Washington as a 27-year-old lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee during its Watergate investigation. That was aimed at impeaching President Nixon, who resigned before he could be removed.
It was not the last time Hillary Clinton would be intertwined with the process. She lost against the man who now faces impeachment himself, Donald Trump. Or more accurately, she blew the 2016 election against Trump, a man who should never have won and would never have won except he had the good fortune to be running against a terrible candidate.

Now that terrible candidate is making noises like she’d give it another go, telling the BBC that “many, many, many people” were encouraging her to run again. That’s three “manys,” if you’re keeping count. If she gets to five, she’s a candidate again, in spite of the fact that she's gone down in flames twice. Barack Obama beat her in the Democratic primaries the first time around. “I, as I say,” she told that same interviewer” “never, never, never say never.” That’s four “nevers.” Four nevers mean, in politics-speak, “Candidates never really go away.”
Just ask John Kerry, who was chewed up by George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. He is still rattling around and has been mentioned a few times to get back into the fray. So far, we haven’t heard from former Vice President Al Gore, but the emphasis should be on “so far.”
It’s all because no one among the 20-plus declared Democratic candidates has really set the world on fire. That is a real temptation for those people with any name recognition whatsoever to say: “Sure, why not? I’m not doing anything anyway.” Actually, with YouTube you can get that name recognition pretty easily. All you need is some sort of trick or a cute pet to do it for you.
Not that he’s relied on YouTube, or cute pets, but Michael Bloomberg, who already has name recognition (he bought it), has stuck his toe into the water. Deval Patrick now says he is taking the plunge. Now here comes Hillary and her “many, many, many people.” The question is, Will they be drowned out by the many more Democrats screaming “nooo.” When it comes to name recognition, she’s had it for decades, and still she hasn’t taken the top prize.
But what is it we’ve been told ad nauseum about the U.S. of A., that anyone can grow up to be president? I would assume that includes someone who has been a two-time loser. Actually, what with the economic caste system in this country and the great bulk of Americans mired in financial quicksand, it’s probably a myth that anyone, no matter how worthy, can really escape anymore and reach for the crass ring, even though, as Andy Warhol said, everyone will have 15 minutes of fame.
Obviously, Hillary wants more fame, and why not? Donald Trump just has to say something stupid or hateful, and he gets attention nonstop. So she can take inspiration from Trump, or Richard Nixon, and go for it. Somebody needs to, although there are probably “many, many, many people” out there saying, “Couldn’t it be someone else?”

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

ANOTHER BLOOMBERG DALLIANCE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

ANOTHER BLOOMBERG DALLIANCE

It’s not fair to call Michael Bloomberg just a superrich dilettante. He is, after all, a former mayor of New York City, so he does have some experience as a political officeholder. It is fair to describe Bloomberg as a superrich guy who obviously was looking for something to do, so he decided, “I think I’ll dabble in presidential politics.”
"Let’s see. What am I, a Republican or a Democrat? This time around I’ll be a Democratic, because that other rich guy is claiming to be a Republican. He’s nowhere near as wealthy as I am. That much we know, even though he refuses to release his tax forms, possibly because they would show he’s really dirt-poor. Still, he is currently GOP president of the United States. so, Democrat it is.”
There’s a ton of Dem already, vying to replace President Trump. That’s provided he’s still in the White House, what with impeachment and all. If Trump does make it through Election Day, Bloomberg has decided that none of the Democrats has gone beyond dithering, leaving too great a possibility that Donald Trump would get a second term. So Michael Bloomberg has offered a way out: He’s the way out. And he’s pulling a Mighty Mouse — as in “Here I Come to Save the Day,” which if you’re not a TV cartoon aficionado, is the “Mighty Mouse” theme.
How would he pull off the superheroic deed just a few months before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, where all the others have such a gargantuan head start? He’d simply ignore those first states as just overhyped media events anyway, and focus on Super Tuesday states later that are more populous and diverse, aftrr the others have stomped on each other early on. Besides, with an estimated net worth of $50 billion plus, Bloomberg could probably just purchase Iowa and New Hampshire. Then he could simply declare their elections null and void.
That’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Michael Bloomberg’s fortune was accumulated by his ownership of countless media properties. So the question comes up, How would those news organizations cover his candidacy? The answer is, well, nobody really knows the answer, other than the one he gave during another of his candidate flirtations, when he suggested that they may just drop campaign coverage.

That would certainly not endear him to the editorial staff who would be laid off. But anti-reporter animosity has not been his style, unlike that other allegedly rich New Yorker, make that former New Yorker. For the longest time, Bloomberg throw a swanky after-party following the White House Correspondents “nerd prom,”called cleverly enough, the “Bloomberg party” . Most of us would have to grovel to be allowed in. Those who were successful or could sneak in would probably pretend we were grateful. That’s called press relations.
However, that appreciation would last a nanosecond during a true campaign. (At the moment, he’s only indicated that he might enter the Alabama primary.) We’ve already put together our hostile questions.
What about his “stop and frisk” program when he was mayor of Gotham? He bought into unleashing the police to abuse the masses, particularly the poor masses and minority masses.
What about his coziness with the other fat cats? Wall Street has no better friend than Michael Bloomberg, which is not exactly fashionable in his current party these days, certainly not among progressives, nor those moderates pretending to be progressives.
Of course, Bloomberg does support gun control, which thrills Democrats or anybody else with a lick of sense. He’s plowed gazillions of dollars into support of that cause and gazillions more into Democratic candidates’ campaign funding. So he is a mixed bag to his new party. His argument will be that he’s the only one who stands a chance against Donald Trump.
Getting rid of Trump is the be-all and end-all for Democrats, many of whom might say: “Michael Bloomberg? Sure, why not?” That is his hope, at any rate. And he has the big bucks to pay for his hobby.

© Bob Franken
King Features

    

BASEBALL STRIKES OUT

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

BASEBALL STRIKES OUT
---
Remember when baseball was referred to as the “national pastime”? Well, these days, hating is the national pastime. Look no further than President Donald Trump’s venture out to watch a World Series game last month. He encountered a tidal wave of boos and other unprintable jeering when he was introduced via the Jumbotron.
But then look what happened after the Washington Nationals won the Series and held a parade for adoring fans so big that I’m tempted to say they exceeded Trump’s Inauguration Day crowd. Actually, they didn’t. That was just fake news. But still, the Nats brought together the D.C. region like it hasn’t been together for a long time.
Unfortunately, the unity was temporary, to say the least. It lasted a weekend, right up until the Nationals accepted the offer from POTUS to visit the White House. When will anybody learn? An invitation to the White House is a certain invitation to trouble. First, the team’s individual athletes always need to decide whether to attend or to boycott because they don’t agree with the president enough to be in the same room with him. Some of those who stay away make their feelings known publicly, like relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, who even poured his out to the Washington Post:
“There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories, and widening the divide in this country,” he said. “At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.”

So Doolittle didn’t go, along with a few other members of the squad, which is probably a good thing because he didn’t really have time because he was handling all the social media invective aimed his way. But if there’s one thing about the internet, it’s that the vicious trolling comes from all sides. It’s kind of a rough balance, with an emphasis on “rough.”
Others decided to attend the South Lawn festivities. Catcher Kurt Suzuki even put on a “Make America Great” cap, and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman presented the Trumpster with a Nats jersey with his name on it, along with the number 45. Then, as team captain, he made a little speech: “This is an incredible honor that I think all of us will never forget,” said Zimmerman. “We’d also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe in our country. And continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”
It was probably that last part that caused the social media skies to open up in a storm of abuse. I don’t want to say what kind of storm, but it rhymes with “hit.” Both Zimmerman and Suzuki were immensely popular with the fans. But that was before they were so badly singed by their contact with the world of politics. It’s called “hardball” for a reason. It should be called “beanball.”
Why bother with these White House visits? Any good feelings to celebrate a champion will certainly turn to hard feelings. Besides, the business side of sports means that whatever glory a winner feels will be momentary. At the same time the Nationals were celebrating their triumph with Trump at the White House (or not), management and the players’ agents were already in the process of ripping away key parts of the team. Cutthroat negotiations always carry that risk.
In addition, after years of practice, developing muscle memory and months painfully grinding through the regular season, the time for savoring the victory was fleeting. There is always next year. It’s the hope of losers and the terror for winners: What happens if they fall short next year?
Next year is also an election year, putting the White House team in jeopardy. Various sports are governed by rules. Not so for politics.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

BETO'S EVAPORATION

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

BETO'S EVAPORATION

---
Here’s the thing about those bright, shiny human objects that are so irresistible to those of us in media: The truth is that, like so much bling, they are merely fool’s gold, soon tarnished by reality. It turns out that the overexposure reveals that there’s little under the gloss, and this “next big thing” is very quickly reduced to “same old, same old.”
So it was with Beto O’Rourke. He skyrocketed to national fame as the Democrat who almost beat a Republican for U.S Senate in Texas, which has turned deep red. But the Republican was Ted Cruz, who has not exactly been Senator Congeniality. Through his career he has managed to antagonize just about anyone he encounters. That doesn’t exactly endear anyone with the voters, who are usually turned off by someone who mainly exudes smarm. As an actor in an old silent movie, he’d be playing the villain. If his nickname isn't Snidely Whiplash, it should be. Even so,he ran for president and got derailed by Donald Trump, who was in a crass by himself -- and still is.
But since Trump stunned Hillary Clinton -- and, might I add, those of us in media -- by winning the big prize, the muddled Democrats were looking for someone, anyone, to fill the void. They realized that they didn’t have any heir apparent, so they basically opened it up to virtually every American who had a pulse. Among those was Beto O’Rourke, who, after losing to Cruz, didn’t really have much to do, so he decided to run for president.

He is the consummate millennial, young, fit and wholly unprepared--oh excuse me--new. He was such a novelty that Vanity Fair, always anxious to identify with hip relevance, decided that Beto O’Rourke deserved not only an article, but also a cover of the magazine. That’s all that the rest of us in media needed, since we too desperately want to be considered hip and relevant.
We were all in, and when Beto O’Rourke announced that yes, he would be running for president, and that by the way, he was “born” (see the Vanity Fair article) to do so, we media folks gave him the royal treatment he really didn't deserve. It followed then that he immediately raked in a ton of money from voters who were frantically searching to support anyone not named Donald Trump.
The aftermath was a slow crash and burn. Inevitably, adoring news coverage is followed by skeptical coverage. In other words, we finally start doing our jobs. What we found out was that there wasn’t much “there” there. Beto, to put it bluntly, was just an empty suit, except that he mostly dressed in millennial casual. At the end of his year and a half decline, he was reduced to getting attention by using the f-word a lot.
Whatever your view of crude language, and mine is “big f**king deal,” it’s not enough to sustain a campaign. He didn’t even use profanity when he quietly bowed out.
He’s offered himself up to help unseat Donald Trump in any way he can. Trump is the exception to the Rule of Gimmickry in politics. His uniquely obnoxious act has been playing for four and a half years now. Of course it’s not an act. He’s a genuinely detestable man. His own empty suit is filled with hatred. And it works. For him, not the country. He’s intimidated his fellow Republicans into abandoning whatever principles they had.
As for the Democrats, they’re fighting a last-ditch battle to remove him from the White House and send him on his way to the Big House. At the same time, they are in a tizzy, looking for someone they can brighten up with gloss to excite the opposition to Trump. So far, they are failing miserably.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

DOG EAT DOG

FROM KING FEATURES SYDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

DOG EAT DOG
---
Once again, out of the fog of war there has emerged a heroic dog of war. Conan is a Belgian Malinois, a shepherdlike puppy who was slightly wounded during the commando raid that resulted in the explosive death by suicide vest of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria. Belgians are a favorite of military forces and law-enforcement authorities because of their physical prowess, bravery and, uh, dogged willingness to follow orders. No canine mutiny with these pups.
We know he’s called “Conan,” even though his identity is supposed to be classified, like the human members of his special forces unit. But there was a leak and his name was made public, although it is unknown whether the leaker raised his or her leg.
The commander in chief has intense scorn for all those who spill the confidential beans. Come to think of it, President Donald Trump has intense scorn for just about everyone who doesn’t shine a favorable light, real or imagined, on him. He’s obsessed with them, at one point tweeting “Leakers are traitors and cowards,” particularly when the information is supposed to be classified.

Never mind that Donald Trump throughout his life has built a career on a fictitious image by whispering to his favored reporters self-aggrandizing stories of his exploits, most of them phony. In fact, one could argue he was the originator of “fake news.”
And never mind that this president leaks super secrets like a sieve whenever it suits him -- just as an example, during an Oval Office meeting in May 2017 with the Russian foreign secretary and then-ambassador to Washington. In that little encounter, he blithely revealed tightly held intelligence, disclosing the identity of a major spy who had embedded himself with ISIS.
As a matter of fact, the Russians were told in advance of the al-Baghdadi operation, but he refused to tell the House Speaker and Chairman of House Intelligence, even though they are traditionally in the loop when this kind of high-stakes move is being made. His explanation? “We decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before.”
He’s particularly incensed these days at Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, because they are leading the impeachment effort against him. The Trumpster and his Trumpettes describe it as a “coup” and those aligned against him as “human scum” and “traitors.”
His abettors get even more bonkers with their accusations. John Yoo, for instance, trashed Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had been detailed to the Trump National Security Council staff and testified about being among those assigned to listen in on the now-infamous July call between POTUS and Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky in which the Don tried to muscle Zelensky into reopening a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. Vindman had firsthand knowledge of the call and gave damaging testimony to House investigators. For that, Yoo, on Fox News, suggested Col. Vindman, decorated in combat, was guilty of “espionage.”
If Yoo’s name sounds familiar, he was the high-ranking member of the George W. Bush Justice Department who authored the so-called "Torture Memo", the highly contrived legal rationale for “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding. Yes, that John Yoo.
After even some Republican leaders objected to impugning Vindman’s reputation in such a reckless way, Yoo walked back his espionage charge. There’s a lot of walking back by the Trump gang these days. That’s a really passive-aggressive way to leave the incendiary quote just hanging out there. In essence, becoming an attack dog while pretending not to be such a rabid one.
Perhaps he could join the patrols in the Syrian desert, as opposed to simply plying his trade in the television punditry desert. He gets paid big bucks for doing that. Conan the hero does his job for a few kibbles.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

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