Bob Franken

DIME TIME

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

DIME TIME

In 1931, smack dab at the beginning of the Great Depression (although, when was any depression “great”?), it was a big hit: “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” Today, 90 years later, what with inflation, the 10 cents of yesteryear has a purchasing power of $1.82, so the song in 2021 would be “Brother Could You Spare a Buck 82?” It doesn’t have the same pizazz, does it?
John D. Rockefeller used to throw dimes at the crowds he encountered. Rockefeller was the rich guy of his generation, sort of like Donald Trump, except that Rockefeller was successful in business and Trump was a failure in business but was a success in politics, rising to president once … or twice, if you believe him. As president, in 2017, Donald Trump tossed paper towels at his audience while delivering aid to hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico. He was always that sensitive.
He has been replaced in the White House by Joe Biden, but Biden faces a threat that is known as a saboteur of more than one chief executive: inflation. Rising consumer prices are death to a presidency. Voters don’t want to hear about supply chains; they don’t even know what a supply chain is, no matter how many times TV news broadcasts the same jammed ships stuck full of cargo containers coming from China.
They don’t want to hear about the tragic pandemic that also did lasting harm to the world economy and is causing prices to rise to the highest rates in 30 years. They do want someone to blame for the cost of cars, and the gas that powers them, as they head to the grocery store and to shop for the Christmas gifts they can’t afford, even online, even misdelivered.

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ROSE GARDEN INFRASTRUCTURE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

ROSE GARDEN INFRASTRUCTURE

Economists estimate (they always guess) that as many as 660,000 jobs will be created by the infrastructure bill, and when the signing ceremony is held, almost as many Democrats will be there to crowd the podium.
President Joe Biden said in a Saturday-morning presidential statement that it would be “millions” of jobs: “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that we took a monumental step forward as a nation.” This was after the measure’s near-death experience the night before that left a lot of House members with their arms badly twisted.
But for Biden, it was a happy photo op, following a bunch of miserable ones along the way. But still the question remains, what is wrong with this picture?
The relieved Democrats were the same fractious ones who quarreled throughout the summer about the Build Back Better social infrastructure sister measure. That became Build Back Less and Less as centrists in the party shattered the dreams of progressives in Joe Biden’s deal-making.

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THIS FOOL RUSHES IN

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THIS FOOL RUSHES IN

It’s time to dust off my fantasy live shot.
Anchorperson: “And now we go to Washington and Bob Franken for a report on this year’s election. What does it mean for next year and for the Biden and Trump campaigns in 2024, Bob?”
Me: “Absolutely nothing.”
Only a fool would make any prediction based on Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Joe Biden for Virginia governorship. Pardon me, that’s over Terry McAuliffe, and over all the lethargic Democrats, as a matter of fact.
But then we need to talk and write about something, so this pundit fool rushes in.
Let’s assume it’s a Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden return match off in 2024, a rerun of the 2020 election that Biden won. Or was it Trump who won? I guess that depends on whether you believe Donald Trump’s absurd lie that he was the true victor.
He’s fighting the last election instead of looking to the future. You’ve heard ad nauseam that the next election cycle begins the moment you’ve disposed of the last. For proof, look no further than the fundraising emails I get from all sides.
No sooner had the networks made their projections when I got my first, headlined “Glenn Youngkin is the next Governor of Virginia.” Then it continued with this fundraising pitch, “It is SO CRITICAL that we keep the momentum going to ensure we restore a MAGA Majority in Congress in 2022. We need you NOW MORE THAN EVER!”
And from the Democrats: “This is not the time to get discouraged … Chip in right now — whether it’s 5 dollars, 25 dollars or more … and defend our razor thin majority …” — see more —

And guess who else sent an email: The boss man himself, Donald Trump, the moment he was let go from Youngkin captivity: “Are you ready for another TRUMP RALLY?
“My favorite part about being YOUR President was always traveling the Country and meeting hardworking, American Patriots …
“When my team asked me where we should go next, I immediately said, ‘Why don’t you ask the American People? They ALWAYS know best.’
So, Friend, I need to know — where do you think I should hold my next Trump Rally?
I’m going to announce the location very soon — make sure I see your response in time …”
As usual, it’s a Trump scam to get your email address for his fundraising or perhaps it’s the latest Trump University hustle.
Speaking of hustles. Glenn Youngkin got elected partially because he hid his connection to Trump and partially because Terry McAuliffe and the Democrats got overconfident or for whatever reason, McAuliffe slept through the campaign while Joe Biden’s presidency was caving in. Events in Afghanistan sabotaged Joe’s claim to foreign policy chops. An intraparty battle between Democratic progressives and centrists over an ambitious legislative agenda undermined his contention that he had decades of Washington experience to rely on. He’s only partially there, crowing about 550 Billion dollars in new spending for infrastructure, and a promise to come up with a deal with the progressive wing of his party to push the social infrastructure in a week or so. So it took all that experience to push his promise half way, with Republican help, by the way, that he cannot expect as he pursues the left leaning part.
And there are other treacherous issues to deal with: Inflation has reared its ugly head and the pandemic has reignited, complicating his claim to fame on getting us past the delta variant.
With Trump released to heckle from the sidelines, maybe, in the normal face of governing complexity, his demagoguery won’t look quite so insane. Even his conspiratorial claims that he had the election stolen from him is still rattling around, at least in his “base,” the millions of people whose grievances have not been resolved. Trump’s years in office won’t look so bad to them. Maybe his rallies will provide a reminder.
Given how we can expect him to take credit for the Youngkin victory, he can also use the midterms and the possibility that Republicans take back congressional majorities as a pretext for his running for another term as president. This time, the nation’s amnesia could be enough to put him over the top in 2024.
That’s a bunch of “maybes” and “perhapses,” but if the Democrats don’t get off their couches, we’ll have a one-party government, the authoritarian Trump party.

(c) 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc. BY BOB FRANKEN

THIS FOOL RUSHES IN

It’s time to dust off my fantasy live shot.
Anchorperson: “And now we go to Washington and Bob Franken for a report on this year’s election. What does it mean for next year and for the Biden and Trump campaigns in 2024, Bob?”
Me: “Absolutely nothing.”
Only a fool would make any prediction based on Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Joe Biden for Virginia governorship. Pardon me, that’s over Terry McAuliffe, and over all the lethargic Democrats, as a matter of fact.
But then we need to talk and write about something, so this pundit fool rushes in.
Let’s assume it’s a Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden return match off in 2024, a rerun of the 2020 election that Biden won. Or was it Trump who won? I guess that depends on whether you believe Donald Trump’s absurd lie that he was the true victor.
He’s fighting the last election instead of looking to the future. You’ve heard ad nauseam that the next election cycle begins the moment you’ve disposed of the last. For proof, look no further than the fundraising emails I get from all sides.
No sooner had the networks made their projections when I got my first, headlined “Glenn Youngkin is the next Governor of Virginia.” Then it continued with this fundraising pitch, “It is SO CRITICAL that we keep the momentum going to ensure we restore a MAGA Majority in Congress in 2022. We need you NOW MORE THAN EVER!”
And from the Democrats: “This is not the time to get discouraged … Chip in right now — whether it’s 5 dollars, 25 dollars or more … and defend our razor thin majority …”

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PHOTO OPS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

PHOTO OPS

New T-shirt slogan for Democratic members of Congress as President Joe Biden headed out for the G-20 and U.N. climate change summits: “My Grandpa Joe went to Europe, and all I got was this lousy framework.”
Last week, when Biden flew off to conquer the economic, climate and pandemic worlds, he left Congress behind to fill in the blanks of his own domestic economic social program. Now, with a price of $1.75 trillion (that’s with a “T”!), it can hardly be called bare bones. But it had already been stripped from $3.5 trillion by abandoning major progressive goals like paid family leave and many aspects of climate change.
The combined infrastructure legislation and what’s left of “Build Back Better” social infrastructure rebuilding are being finessed with compromise promises to revisit the rejects in the months ahead, before the midterm elections, when the president’s party might lose control of Congress and it all goes kablooie for him. He effectively has lost control of Congress anyway, with a few “moderates” able to gum up the liberals’ hopes.
The names Manchin, Sinema and Gottheimer are not about to set the lefties’ hearts a-flutter, but hey, that’s what legislation is all about. President Biden made his decades of Washington experience a major selling point, and his own party might fail with a thud to deliver the goods beyond the face-�saving stage. He might end the year with nothing more than the knowledge that when you reach for the stars, you can get badly burned.

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JESS, THE TIPSTER AND THE DONALD

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

JESS THE TIPSTER AND THE DONALD

I had dragged my daughter Jessica to House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s off-camera briefing. She was just a sprout, but she knew who the Tipster was. He not only had political shrewdness, but so much Boston blarney, Irish blarney. So sure, she knew who the Speaker of the House was.
I was the combined proud father and reporter regularly covering O’Neill. I had arranged with his chief of staff, Chris Matthews (yeah, THAT Chris Matthews), for Jess to attend. I must admit that I was a proud poppa, as she hid her boredom in politeness — until we were leaving, that is. Then, as we were milling around in the outer sanctum of the speaker’s office, Jessica exclaimed in the loud voice that only an 8-year-old can have, “That wasn’t so bad, Daddy!”
Jess grew up around politics and politicians, and grew more and more disgusted with both. I can’t really speak for her, but I’ll try: It was because of what it took to govern this country and what it took in eroded virtue to make any progress at all.
She’ll agree with me, I’m sure, that “money rules” has become the be-all-end-all motivation for change, good or bad, but remembers fondly Tip O’Neill and his association with the belief that “all politics is local.
We pundits have it backward: We take an issue that has tremendous importance back home and immediately report on the political significance. That goes for any deal to appear to solve the latest problem, real or imagined. In truth, the practical effect on a constituent’s wallet — or health or food prices, etc., etc. — will determine whether the officeholder will continue to hold office not some pundit’s praise. .
Tip knew that. He didn’t actually come up with the saying that all politics is local, but he became known as its strongest advocate. He would take perverse pleasure not with Donald Trump’s ugliness but to know that he realized that all political demagoguery is local. So Trump’s  playing to the fears and prejudices at the precinct level would win the day, and, more importantly, win at the ballot box.

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