Bob Franken


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Expect something dopey when Sarah Palin and her like-minded cronies take to social media (I realize that “minded” is a bit of a stretch). There she was on Facebook, after President Barack Obama called on U.S. Marines standing guard at a drizzly give-and-take with reporters to bring umbrellas to protect the Turkish prime minister and him from the elements. “Mr. President,” wrote Palin, “when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas.” In fact, the entire right-wingnut community was all a-Twitter, literally, over still another cover-up.
This, they shrieked, was an inappropriate task for a Marine. Actually, it is not. Perhaps the critics have never heard of aides-de-camp. Those are lower-ranking officers assigned to the highest-ranking as personal assistants to do whatever they’re told. It has a long history. I must say that this rumpus conjured up images in my mind of the Marines at the White House, practicing their traditional rifle drills using umbrellas, perhaps with bayonets on them. Still, what happened during the soggy news conference was entirely proper.
The arch-conservatives are simply cutting the president no slack whatsoever. In fact, some of their leaders are warning them against overplaying their hands and causing a backlash. The firebrands on their side are ignoring the admonitions and running roughshod over any restraints. It’s not just Sassy Sarah, but in Congress the Moron Caucus has been prominent. Founding member Michele Bachmann was front and center, flirting with calls for impeachment, but ascribing them to constituents. She’s just one on her far side using the “I word.” But when it comes to doltishness, the prize probably once again should be given to GOP Congressman Louis Gohmert, the pride of Tyler, Texas. Congressman Gohmert was among those at a hearing doing heated verbal battle with Attorney General Eric Holder. When Holder challenged him on some facts, Gohmert finally sputtered, “the attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus.” It’s easy to understand his fury. I know I speak for all of us when I insist that nobody mess with our asparagus.

Of course, stupidity has been an equal-opportunity condition of late. The administration has been bobbing and weaving after being clobbered by some punishing self-administered punches to its lunkhead. Holder’s Justice Department was caught foraging in the personal phone records of AP reporters who were simply doing their job in reporting a story that government officials didn’t want the public to know. The surreptitious snooping was not only heavy-handed and un-American, but also dimwitted. The same can be said for the clumsy way the Benghazi talking points were handled. The Inane Award, though, probably belongs to those wonderful people at our friendly neighborhood Internal Revenue Service. The only question here is whether the oafish targeting of tea-party groups was the work of incompetent bureaucrats or feckless management. Even though the president’s enemies are trying to pin this on him leading a conspiracy at the highest level, it’ll probably end up being the work of those further down on the fool chain.
Is it any wonder that the polls all show an eroding faith in our political system. When we witness a debate about laying blame for all our nation’s woes, and the only choices are scoundrels or fools, it’s no wonder the country is in trouble. Not only are either or both causing our problems, but in the process they are frittering away a necessary ingredient for the survival of a democracy: a belief it can work. There’s not a lot of faith going around right now, and why should there be? The news is dominated by reports of government abuse and incompetence, to say nothing of umbrellas and asparagus. Surely, somehow, we can do better than that. We’d better.

© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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