Bob Franken


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So, we have the “alt-right,” the “alt-left” and a president who is clearly not “alt-there.” What Donald Trump is fast becoming is alt-isolated, as the accumulated disgust over his constant degradation of the office has boiled over. After days of vacillating, his news conference tantrum — where he argued that there is a moral equivalence between Nazis, Klansmen ,other violent white nationalist haters and those who fight them — revealed the depths of his immorality, amorality or just plain stupidity.
That was the last straw for many who had opportunistically cooperated with his administration. The list even included the corporate CEOs who had allowed themselves to become members of his various White House task forces. I say “even” because usually, many of these business titans value profits without honor, and they joined up with Trump because the proximity allowed them the chance to whisper in his ear and push their agendas to make their swollen treasuries even more bloated.
But then at that grotesque news conference, the nation’s chief executive clarified his thinking about who was responsible for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought on by protests organized by virulent racists, anti-Semites and other white supremacists. Trump insisted on stating: “You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides.” He was insisting that among those who associated with Nazis were some “very fine people,” and those who resisted them in Charlottesville bore comparable blame.
When the CEOs either were so dismayed about his remarks or made their market research calculation that pandering to fringe extremists was bad PR, they made it clear they would bail on the task forces. Trump quickly disbanded the groups in order to save face.

Meanwhile, many of his fellow Republicans were trying to save other parts of their bodies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have had plenty of practice with bold squishisness. “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity,” tweeted Ryan. McConnell put out a statement declaring that there “are no good neo-Nazis.” Note that neither mentioned the president by name. Either their feelings about fascism just spontaneously erupted or they realized that they have to work with this alt-boob.
They must engineer through Congress minimal legislation to keep the government operating and raise the debt ceiling to avoid a disastrous default by the United States of America on its sovereign financial obligations. Neither is a sure thing, no matter how obvious, because of the byzantine politics on Capitol Hill. It will require collaboration with a president who is on his game. Donald Trump definitely is not on his game, and many of his top aides, even the competent ones, have been knocked off theirs. If they aren’t considering resignations, they should be. If John Kelly, who just came on to restore order to a chaotic White House, apparently won’t quit yet, because he perceives he’s needed to prevent a national train wreck. And what about Ivanka and Jared, the nepots? Should they step in and conduct a family intervention? Maybe they already did, and that’s what pushed Steve Bannon out of the White House, taking his loopy Donald Trump mind-lock with him. Or perhaps the Trumpster was antagonized that Bannon, in an interview, referred to those extremists as “clowns,” “losers” and “a fringe element.” Excuse me, but that is Trump’s fringe element.
As for getting rid of the big guy, we can forget about the 25th Amendment, which allows for the temporary removal of a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That would require courageous action by the vice president, a majority of the Cabinet members and Congress. “Craven politician” is a classic oxymoron.
Impeachment is a nonstarter, too, for the same reason, until he does something so crazy that the members of Congress must remove him because they have no alt-ernative.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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