Bob Franken


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Here’s why President Donald Trump is not a bigot: Bigots have to believe in something beyond themselves, even if it’s hateful. Trump doesn’t believe in anything but self-promotion. If exploiting ignorant prejudice accomplishes that, he is relentless. No danger to the country, no matter how divisive, will get in his way. After all, he’s had a lifetime of practice. Like a gymnast, his constant exercising of narcissism muscle memory has made him a national champion.
It is true that the Trumpster doesn’t look like a gymnast. Anything but. Still, looks can be deceiving. His verbal gymnastic talent is awe-inspiring. Take his current tactics in the Rabble-rousing competition, characterized by an ability to inspire his hordes of spectators to sink en masse to loathsome depths.
As usual, the tournament of Political Games began with the preliminary events, held in the Twitter Arena. This time, as always, it was a breeze for Trump. He started out with a frontal racist jingoism move that obliterated all the others fighting for attention: “‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen,” referring specifically to four loudly critical rookie members of the House, should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All four happen to be minorities. Never mind that three of them were born in the United States and the fourth, Rep. Ilhan Omar, is a naturalized American citizen from Somalia; it wiped out any competition in the demagoguery category.

So he moved on to the main event, which was held at a venue in Greenville, North Carolina. It was no contest. He executed his shameful anti-Muslim move and had the crowd eating out of his little hand. Actually, the crowd, called “The Base” by those of us in the know, were lapping it up and screaming in Prussian unison, “Send her back!”
While vintage Trump, that one even troubled some of his Republican lackeys. So the next day, after they timidly made their groveling whispers heard, he did a one-eighty and claimed to reporters that he, too, was troubled by his groupies’ outburst: “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” he said, executing an amazing sidestep.
Still, he wasn’t done. By the next day, he finished with an astonishing double reverse twist. The degree of difficulty is off the charts — for anyone but Donald Trump. For this move, he was back to praising his fanatic fans, calling them “incredible patriots.” His brilliance in the dark artistry of verbal acrobatics is breathtaking, except for those who have also marveled at his mastery of rhetorical nihilism and shameless lying.
His next test on his nonstop tour will come Wednesday, when he will find it necessary to come up with clever way to distract from the Bob Mueller’s congressional hearings. Trump already expended his racist button-pushing. But it came a week too early. Mueller’s long-awaited public explanation of his decision as special counsel to not prosecute this president was originally scheduled a week ago, but was moved back.
We can expect some Trump spectacle. Will it be an escalation in the dangerous stand-off with Iran? Will it be some last-minute way to back out of his agreement and endanger passage of legislation suspending the nation’s borrowing limit? That one is lurking as a potentially huge financial disaster. For the first time, the United States of America could welch on paying off sovereign debt, which would be calamitous.
But in Trump’s mind, it’ll be time to take some sort of distraction action, no matter what the consequences. What’s really pathetic about his habit of destructive manuevering is that we have learned to expect it. Still, we are required to report on whatever it is, in all its tarnished glory. He is the president of the United States, the gymnast in chief. He has twisted a lack of belief in anything but his self-glorification into sheer power. He has always dominated this game. It appears that he can do it again and win re-election.

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

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