Bob Franken


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Well, I did it. I boycotted the Super Bowl, which was not a major sacrifice, because the game, by all accounts, was a huge bore.
I decided not to watch in protest of the NFL owners blackballing Colin Kaepernick, refusing to hire him because he had the audacity to dissent. The democracy we claim to be certainly allows someone to refuse to stand for the national anthem, but just because a demagogue president decided to exploit the jingoism and racism of his base, the rich guys who control the teams have marched in lockstep and shut out Kaepernick. That is totally un-American, which explains why this football fan avoided the live broadcast. I am one less minuscule number for the ratings, one less penny added to the wealth of the same oligarchs who rule sports and everything else.
Speaking of the demagogue president, and speaking of predictable farce, I also have every intention of tuning out tonight’s State of the Union address. Under the best of circumstances, SOTU (which is what we inside-the-Beltway hipsters call it) is contrived grandiosity, where the participants pretend that they like each other even though they spend their every moment trying to do each other in. And this would hardly qualify as the best of circumstances.

We have a president who is hellbent on dividing this union and largely has succeeded. He will then use his State of the Union bully pulpit to try to bully the assembled politicians into adopting his reactionary agenda. His latest debacle was the government shutdown over his insistence on a ridiculous southern border wall. He ran into a wall named Nancy Pelosi, as in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Imagine how ridiculous it will be when Pelosi sits right behind him, presumably stone-faced as he spews out his foolishness. That has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world.
It won’t happen, but I have this fantasy where Pelosi makes goofy faces as Vice President Mike Pence casts his adoring eyes on Trump. Perhaps Pence can conjure up his famous steely glare aimed at anyone in the audience below who misbehaves. The “Pence Pout” would be the same one he fixed on North Korean soldiers as he glowered across the border at the 38th parallel. The minefields there don’t compare with the ones here.
The enemy in this case will be Democrats, who will have to decide whether to also register their disgust or sit expressionless. Of course, some simply will not show up. Through the magic of recorded video, we can watch later, after experts have sanitized the speech of all the lies and distortions. That way, we can keep the ratings down.
Members of the House and Senate in attendance can bring along guests to act as human props. In the past, they have included heroes and villains invited in order to make a political statement. You can bet that none of the Democrats will bring Ralph Northam. He’s the somewhat liberal governor of Virginia who was suddenly outed for allegedly including on his medical-school yearbook page a photo of someone in blackface standing beside someone costumed in the hood and robes of a Ku Klux Klansman. Northam inspired a rare bit of bipartisanship: Republican and Democratic leaders were nearly unanimous in their calls for him to resign.
He had beaten his opponent, Ed Gillespie, by nine points in the past election. Gillespie must be enraged at his opposition-research people for missing that one during the campaign.
Speaking of missing, I’ll say again that this is the year to miss the State of the Union speech, at least until someone has sifted through all the falsehoods that accompany this sad circus. Coming just a few days after the Super Bowl, it will be another symbol of American excess that is best avoided.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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