Bob Franken




Oct. 15 meant that those of us who call D.C. home had to make a decision. We were forced to pick between keeping tabs on another Democratic presidential candidate debate or going to the ballgame to watch Washington at Nats Park sweep the St. Louis Cardinals (sorry for gloating, St. Louis), thereby winning the National League pennant and heading to the World Series for the first time since 1933, when this country and most of the planet was in the grips of the Great Depression. Now, the U.S. is seized by another kind of depression, an emotional one caused in large part by the Donald Trump roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, unlike a normal roller coaster that goes up and hurtles downward, this one starts at the depths and careens even lower.
But back to baseball. The last time a D.C. Major League Baseball team played in a World Series, it was called the Senators. Franklin Roosevelt was the 32nd president, responsible for many enduring social programs that represented hope to millions of desperate citizens. Now, Trump, the 45th president, seems intent on rolling them back.
So the swamp creatures here had to opt for either doing our professional duty and covering the debate or going to the game. No problem. There I was with more than 43,000 of my closest friends at the old ballyard, watching the Nationals, safe in the knowledge that I could later catch a recording of another debate that, at best, would simply provide one of a dozen Democratic candidates some viral moment. As I said, easy choice.
The Nationals have had a remarkable season, but that’s also true of the wild and wacky game of politics. What’s interesting is how they align. On May 23, as an example, the Nats were in the throes of a severe slump. They had a won-loss record of 19 and 31. The next day, they began an astounding comeback. On that same day, May 23, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney convened a White House meeting to order officials to ignore official channels regarding Ukraine, and deal instead with President Trump’s personal freelancing attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Fast-forward to July 25. The Nats lost that particular day to the Colorado Rockies, 8-7. Also on July 25, President Trump took the now-infamous call with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he asked Zelenskiy to do him “a favor” and investigate again Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who had dealings with a Ukrainian company, even though Biden had been cleared on any impropriety. Reopening the probe would grease the release of $400 million in authorized military aid to Ukraine.
That call, widely viewed as a shakedown, inspired reluctant Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, to finally authorize an impeachment investigation.
On Oct. 15, the day the Nats won the pennant, the media were also filled with damaging stories of questionable dealings by the Trump mob, even as the administration vows to simply not cooperate and obstruct a constitutionally legal House impeachment investigation.
At the same time, the White House is getting a furiously outraged reaction over Trump’s sudden decision to greenlight an incursion by Turkish troops, who are crossing the border into Syria and endangering thousands of civilian lives, along with the U.S. military forces still stationed there. He has, in the process, cavalierly abandoned a loyal U.S. ally in the region, the Kurds. The Kurds then immediately turned around and aligned themselves with Syria’s government, the Russians and Iran, all U.S. enemies. It totally demonstrates that Trump has no idea how to play the geopolitical game.
As for the game of baseball, the Washington Senators’ dismal record way back in the 1900s had given rise to the description of D.C. as “First in war, first in peace and last in the American League.” The Nats are now in the National League, where they have finished first. As for war and peace, under this president, waging war is an embarrassment, and there’s really no peace in our country, certainly not in Washington.

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

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