Bob Franken


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Editors: Note vulgarity in first graf.


In my role as a pundit-wannabe, I have always been strongly influenced by this single guiding principle: “If you can’t dazzle them with your genius, baffle them with your bull—-.” In my world, it is a mortal sin not to have ready answers to any question, whether or not you know what you’re talking about. So, I’ve always dreamed, as I’ve mentioned before, that my fantasy live shot from Capitol Hill or the White House, or whatever styrofoam prop I was using, would go something like this:

Anchor: “And now for a report on what it all means, here is Action Eyewitness News correspondent Bob Franken. Bob, what does it all mean?”

Befuddled Bob: “I have no earthly idea.”

The truth is that it quite possibly is worthless rhetoric; much of what happens in politicsbiz is nothing more than empty sound bites or obnoxious social media distractions, like those from a certain president we all know. Donald Trump’s next book should be called “The Art of the Tweet.” He has an amazing ability to send us all atwitter with his every impulsive thought, whether it’s delivered by smartphone or the old-fashioned way, during a traditional TV interview.
So it was that his latest asininity escaped during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who asked whether he’d report it to the FBI if some foreign government offered him opposition research material on a political opponent. “It’s not an interference,” he blurted. “They have information. I think I’d take it.” Since he’s still accused among many of his non-believers of conspiring with Russia to win his election, that startled most of the TV babblers and the rest of us who get paid to look like we know everything. The truth is, we haven’t a clue after all this time whether he says this outrageous stuff because he’s an ignoramus with no impulse control or he’s a diabolically clever showman who knows how to distract us from the important stuff, like possibly starting a war with Iran.

It’s not just the Trump sideshow that bewilders us. The Democratic Party’s farcical efforts to unseat President Trump have inspired a couple of dozen Democrats to become candidates, with more expected. The party decided that 20 would make the cut for the first televised debate later this month.
Actually, it’s debates — plural — two of them on consecutive nights, The matchups determined by a random drawing. Elizabeth Warren will appear on the first night, along with Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar. On the second night Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden share the stage, along with Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris.
So which candidates benefit? Is it the opening act: Warren; or Beto who gets to flaunt his youth; or middle-of-the-roaders Booker or Klobuchar? Is night No. 1 an advantage, with its novelty appeal, or will those who care wait till the second night to watch because of the star power? What about Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, and a first-nighter. He’s barely registering in the national polls, but he is 6 feet, 5 inches tall. Will the other candidates look vertically challenged if they are placed next to him?
Well, if you’re guided by the pundits, it’s all of the above or none of the above. Or part of each above. Not only that, but that is just the pre-debate chatter. After each one there will be endless hours of debate about the debate. Who won? Who lost? Most importantly, who cares? These debates are happening more than a year before the nominee will be chosen. One more live shot you’ll never hear from me:

Anchor: “Here is Bob, wrapping up the debates: Bob, what did they mean?”

Bob: “Other than keeping us commentators gainfully employed, not a blasted thing.”

©Bob Franken
King Features Syndicate

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