Bob Franken




Pity the poor head of state who visits the White House. This time around, it was the Finnish president watching another fight to the finish by his host, American President Donald Trump.
Finland’s Sauli Niinisto was the latest human prop, maintaining a stone face and keeping his thoughts to himself, but perhaps worrying whether his U.S. counterpart had rabies. Trump has been foaming at the mouth more than normal these days, going bonkers before our very eyes, as his attacks against anyone and everyone involved in his impeachment probe get increasingly vicious, seemingly with no regard to the safety of those who stand in his way.
First, one of his milder tirades: He accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of handing out subpoenas targeting his accomplices “like they are cookies.” Perhaps that’s his half-baked response to getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar, a whistleblower charge that Trump tried to pressure Ukraine’s new leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to reopen an investigation against Joe Biden and his son Hunter for corruption in Ukraine, even though a probe was already concluded with no charges. Trump is accused of seeking foreign help for his reelection bid — which by the way is a crime — after a transcript of his July call with Zelenskiy provided strong evidence that he was holding back more than a quarter-billion dollars in military aid until he was satisfied that Zelenskiy was playing ball. Apparently, Donald Trump considers Joe Biden his greatest barrier to reelection. But now there is a threat that his term won’t make it to re-election, because the heretofore timid Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have launched their aggressive impeachment process.

Since then, the Trumpster has been losing it, his rhetoric getting more dangerously erratic by the moment. At the event with Finland’s president, he called the whistleblower’s source a “spy,” which he’s done before, and stated that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is guilty of “treason” for his hardball tactics (his latest nickname is “Shifty Schiff”). He routinely calls the impeachment effort a “coup” and let us not forget how he tweeted it was “BULL***T” — in all caps!
Many worry that his careless language could incite some of his more crazed supporters to violence. Donald Trump himself has never been known for his impulse control.
At one point during the news conference, Trump asked a reporter: “You talking to me?” Perhaps he did not remember that quote was from a famous movie, “Taxi Driver,” and uttered by a psychotic character.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are winning this war of words by keeping theirs low-key. At the same time that Trump was engaged in his Finland harangue, Nancy “Cookie Pusher” Pelosi and Adam “Shifty” Schiff were holding their own news conference. “Shifty,” responding to the Trump forces’ refusal to cooperate with congressional oversight, ominously warned: “We’re not fooling around here though. We don’t want this to drag on for months and months and months, which appears to be the administration’s strategy.”
That’s only part of the strategy. The Don’s henchmen and women blatantly try to destroy the credibility of any adversary. The president demands that the whistleblower be identified to him so he can confront him or her, even though this person is a CIA operative, whose name is a secret. If revealed, it could destroy his or her career. And now the president has startled everyone by publicly asking China to investigate the Bidens, prompting the Federal Elections Commission to remind everyone that it is illegal for a foreign power to get involved in the campaign, or to solicit one.
Back to the Finnish president: What possible impressions could he take home? There is a hint in the White House transcript of the press appearance:

Q: Finnish media here. Finland is the happiest country in the world.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Finland is a happy country.

It’s true, by the way. A U.N. survey designated Finland the world’s happiest country. That would certainly not describe the United States.

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

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