Bob Franken


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Parasitic worms — there are many of them — are among the worst health scourges on Earth. The same could be said about the species that frequently infest the world of American celebrity. They’re called WIRMS, but in this case, the opportunistic organisms latch on to the parasites, particularly those in the political realm. WIRMS is shorthand for “What I Really Meant to Say,” and we’ve had an outbreak of WIRMS recently in Washington.
It doesn’t take an expert to conclude that these particular lice were brought back from Helsinki, where our president — or make that ALLEGEDLY our president — was contaminated by his handler, the Russian president. The early-onset symptoms manifested themselves immediately — in this case, it was his addled responses to the nagging-headache question about Russian cybertheft of the U.S. election that propelled the Moscowian candidate, Donald Trump, into the White House. With an apparently menacing Vladimir Putin standing right next to him, Trump managed to really step in it: “My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
We all witnessed what happened next: The spit hit the fan. Once everyone got over the shock, they responded with an outrage that was really out there. Cries of “treason” and “disgraceful” filled the air, the accusations that the U.S. chief executive had declared that he believed the former USSR KGB operative over all the American intelligence agencies. The fever kept rising, and by the next day, full-blown WIRMS had set in.
POTUS, his very own self, abandoned his usual efforts at self-medication and read off a prescription form concocted by his staff. He misspoke, Trump sniffled to reporters. He meant to say “wouldn’t,” not “would.”

The fury quickly turned to ridicule after that one. Before the laughter had even died down, he was taken over by his chronic illness, the terrifying (to his staff) ad lib disease. Once again, the patient went before cameras and, sure enough, was asked: “Is Russia still targeting the United States?” meaning, the next upcoming elections. His response: “No.”
So which was it? This time he channeled his response through one of his favorite WIRMSters, Sarah Sanders. He wasn’t replying to the reporter’s question, Sanders explained, but simply saying “no” to any questions. As usual, Sanders delivered her translation with a straight face, though it became a choice between her interpretation and what people could see on the tape, or what he might describe as their “fake views.”
The WIRMS quickly spread to Aspen, Colorado, and a meeting where the rich and powerful gather with media and other hangers-on to make sure they are all on the same page. Besides the schmoozing, it features a series of interviews between network anchors and a constellation from industry and the political world. The star of this appearance was Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, being questioned by Andrea Mitchell of NBC. (Full disclosure: Andrea and I have been friendly for decades.) Coats had strongly defended the nation’s spy agencies.
Andrea broke the news to him onstage that Presidents Trump and Putin, his bosses, were on another collusion course, planning a second summit at the White House in September. “Say that again,” Coats sputtered. “Did I hear you right?” Assured that she wasn’t kidding, Coats muttered to laughter, “That’s going to be special.”
It wasn’t long before DNI Coats got clobbered by the WIRMS himself: “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president.” Coats quickly had been made aware that it’s uncomfortable being on the Trumpian spit list, proving the old adage that that the early WIRMS avoid the bird droppings from on high.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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