Bob Franken




How fitting it was that on Friday the 13th, Boris Johnson trundled over to Buckingham Palace and received permission from the queen to form his government. Fitting because it was bad luck for those who had fading hopes of somehow stopping Brexit before it actually happened, and really bad luck for those who put up a fight against Boris Johnson.
He’s a serial liar and buffoon, but he had the incredibly good fortune to run against Jeremy Corbin, someone the British people despise even more than Johnson. His Conservatives were pitted against a Labour Party that Corbin has dragged far to the left, leaving Brits with the impression that he’d nationalize everything if he gained power. Add to that a faction in Labour that is downright anti-Semitic, and you have an overwhelming bloc of voters who are anti-nationalizing everything and anti-anti-semitic, and who had nowhere to go but to vote for the buffoon. Politics U.K. style is not exactly parallel to politics U.S. style, but there are certainly similarities — lots of them.
For starters, candidates in the Democratic Party’s centrist non-wing are making sure they were highlighting those similarities. Joe “Moderate but No Malarkey” Biden was not bothering with nuance: “Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left. It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.”
You listening, Democrats? You listening, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? You listening, AOC and all those who argue that the party must come up with radical approaches to America’s problems in order to win over fed-up voters? They were listening, but of course, they came up with a different spin. Their take was that the Brits have a different dynamic, what with Brexit and all that. In addition, in this country, they argue that the moderates look too much like Republicans.

And then there’s Donald Trump, who is in many ways a Boris Johnson doppelganger. Or is it the other way around? In any case, Trump weighed in with his own analysis: “I think that might be a harbinger of what’s to come in our country.”
Of course, he does have to get past his impeachment thingy and go through a U.S. Senate trial that could remove him from office. But it won’t, particularly since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sets the Senate’s agenda, is taking his cues from White House lawyers. Now, you might be one of those troublemakers who complain that this is a gross conflict of interest, but nobody’s listening to you.
McConnell’s Republicans — really Trump’s Republicans — are going to decisively reject conviction, and then the Democrats will have to brace for a ton of attacks about how they wouldn’t give up on their “hoax,” “scam” and “witch hunt” aimed at overturning the last election. It’s entirely possible that Trump will be strengthened going into the next election. Certainly he’d be emboldened.
The Democrats’ fondest hope lies in the fact that the Trumpster has the attention span of a gnat and the impulse control of an immature gnat. So within a few hours he will have created some new uproar that will leave impeachment a distant memory. Trump will go on as before, setting the agenda while leaving the Democrats playing defense. In that regard, it is very similar to just what happened in the United Kingdom.
Another similarity is that Boris Johnson won so decisively that he can claim a mandate. If President Trump wins re-election, he will claim a mandate no matter how close the result. That will be extremely bad luck for the nation, as he no longer will be restrained by political considerations. He won’t have to run again, unless he decides to go full autocrat and ignore the parts of the Constitution that he didn’t ignore in his first term.

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

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