Bob Franken




Do you miss President Bush? I mean Bush the 2nd, “W,” “Shrub” — you know, the one Democrats spent eight years ridiculing when they weren’t condemning him. In the Trump era, a lot of those same Democrats marvel at their pinings for the good old days of the 43rd presidency. True they had Barack Obama’s terms to put on their emotional pedestals, but we’re talking about the Bush gang, complete with the national security excesses after 9/11, the Iraq War, Afghanistan, Vice President Darth Vader, torture, Katrina … wait a minute, perhaps the Bush nostalgia is misplaced. Still, we prefer to recall his reaction after 9/11, his embrace of Muslims in the face of intolerance and anger.
W has found it necessary in this crisis to dust off his presidency and issue a plaintive video statement that should be obvious but in this day and age is not.
“Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful, in the sight of God. We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
How quaint. Trump thrives on exploiting differences, and predictably he responded quickly by tweet:
“Where was he during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside?”
Bush, in this age of Trump, was engaging in wishful thinking. To be clear, there was plenty of partisan combat during his years. Trump just enjoys splashing around in a toxic political culture that has gotten deeper for generations. So we combat this crisis, ripped apart by division, exacerbated by the Trumpster and his gang of stumblebums whose every failure is magnified by his lack of credibility and ineptitude.
Now, in the face of evidence to the contrary, evidence that it’s dangerous to do so, he has declared that the country can “reopen” and go back to the way of life that predated the crippling quarantine that suddenly threw millions out of work. Now, with a wary eye on the upcoming election, he has recklessly declared that we can start the process to return to “normal.”

Across the country, many state governors have followed his lead. Others have not, and instead maintained the severe restrictions that have left their states in dire economic straits, but better able to do battle against this invisible organism that has already taken more lives in the U.S. than the Vietnam War. “Normal” is apparently defined as a patchwork of states, some digging in, some retreating and risking disaster. Those in retreat are goaded by armed right wing militia, such as in Michigan, where self-styled militias confronted police … people described by the president of the United States as “very good people.” It all brings to mind the street battles in Charlottesville between white supremacists and their opponents, where he found “very fine people on both sides.”
Now his administration’s “very fine people” are plotting the very best ways to declare “mission accomplished” against the hyper dangerous enemy in mid-invasion, while it is still infecting and striking down so many Americans that even the House of Representatives leaders have determined that the nation’s capital is too much of a “hot zone” to call their members back. The members of the Senate have returned, amid utter confusion over how they will be able to protect themselves.
Meanwhile, in an effort at branding, which is the one thing that Trump does well, the pliant people at Fox News arranged an event for him surrounded by the trappings of the Lincoln Memorial — a national “town hall,” it was called.
Of course, he used the occasion for a televised re-election rally, blaming a “hostile” press for ignoring the fact that he has “done more than any other president in the history of our country.”
George W. Bush might have another way of putting it to this president: “You have done a heckuva job, Donnie.”

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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