Bob Franken


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Is it me, or does “Fire and Fury” sound like the name of a rock group? President Donald Trump apparently made up his
own lyrics when he trash-talked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” he blustered on live TV. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Aides insist that the “fire and fury” words were Trump’s own, although they had agreed that he needed to convey a “no more Mr. Nice Guy” message. What Trump really accomplished is scaring the daylights out of just about everybody on the planet —
everybody but Kim. It wasn’t very long before Pyongyang fired back with another threat, this time to loft missiles at Guam, in effect, to make the little U.S. territory “Guam With the Wind.”

For good measure, North Korea called the “fire and fury” warning “a load of nonsense.” As usual, Trump then proceeded to double down, insisting his language “maybe wasn’t tough enough.” Still, his national-security people tippy-toed away from the harsh, bomb blast bombast: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it a point to make an appearance before cameras aboard his plane while flitting around Asia. He offered a reassurance that “Americans should sleep well at night,” and insisted that the boss was only trying
to be crystal clear: “I think what the president was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”

That sound you might have heard was a sigh of relief from those who were worried that the world was hurtling toward a catastrophic war because two dangerously immature leaders couldn’t exercise impulse control. Hundreds of thousands of people could be annihilated before it was over. Under this president, the United States of America is reduced to hoping that the wiser heads who run Russia or China will bail us out as our commander in chief struggles to comprehend that this is more than an exercise in
tough-guy branding. There are no indications that Kim pays any attention whatsoever to social media.

At least Trump’s vitriolic tweets are just usually domestic wars of words. His latest target? Sen. Mitch McConnell, of all people. The majority leader had the temerity to suggest that the White House had rushed Congress into taking on health care and that
there were “excessive expectations” that something as complicated as undoing and redoing Obamacare could be accomplished so
quickly. The Trumpster was all over that: “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done?” Note to POTUS: It’s one thing to take on Kim Jong Un, but don’t mess with Mitch McConnell. He’s more
treacherous. He doesn’t engage in trash talk. He just trashes.

Assuming we make it through August without some international calamity, the home front is just about as hostile. Among other items, Congress needs to keep the government up and running, which will require a spending agreement. The hang-up could be the wall. Yes, that wall, the one candidate Trump promised that Mexico would finance. Now he’s demanding that Congress pay for it with taxpayer money, and Democrats are putting up a wall in front of the wall. You remember the Democrats, don’t you? They’re still the opposition party, and the one thing they will oppose with all
their might will be agreeing to a budget deal with wall funding in it, which could be the biggest barrier to keeping the government going after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Even bigger than that is the need to raise the debt ceiling at about the same time. Without a raise, the nation will default on its precious sovereign debt, causing economic chaos. If Kim and any other dangerous enemies have any smarts, they’ll simply ignore Trump and wait to see what fire and fury he inflicts on us.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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