Bob Franken


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What I’m about to write is entirely self-centered, but hey, after a long career in TV news, I feel it’s really all about me so I’m entitled. Not as entitled as most wealthy or otherwise “elite” people consider themselves to be, but … let’s move on: I will admit it: I have been humbled — by Donald Trump.
Try as I might, week after week, column after column of “fake news” expressing unrelenting contempt for Trump, he has not once, not EVER, insulted me on Twitter. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, none of his thousands of vacuous tweets have recognized that I exist. No derogatory nicknames, no crushing descriptions of my intellect, honesty, virility, physical appearance or age; none of that. It is as if he overlooks the fact that I’m alive (like, say, Frederick Douglass) or that I had been even born here (unlike Barack Obama).
I feel like, to borrow a quote from one of his cyber tantrums, “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse [sic] Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One’ …” It’s true, he was pretending to show support for his accomplice Paul Manafort, but Manafort has nothing on me. At least he’s not being shunned by his old comrade. And before you point out that, unlike Manafort, I am not fighting charges that could mean I would be effectively in prison for the rest of my life, I ask you: What kind of life is it if one is shunned by Trump? I’m so anonymous that I need an ID card to grocery shop. I have been walled off, and I’m not even an immigrant. This is cruel and unusual punishment. As a reminder, Mr. President, that’s prohibited in the Constitution — you know, the one you pledged to “preserve, protect and defend”? Of course, your oath also specified that you’d do that to the “best of my ability,” which is a huge loophole; your obvious lack of constitutional comprehension impairs your “ability.”

But Trump does know his way around self-promotion, which is the only possible reason he is where he is in the first place and not dismissed as a petty thief and con man. And he’s certainly mastered the superficial skill of manipulating social media, as evidenced by his daily barrage of tweets unleashed with all their moronic lies, bigotry and scurrilous nicknames. Everybody has one — everybody but me. They are definite badges of honor. I am dishonored to not have one to brag about.
The only shame that would compare would be the candidate, usually a Democrat who opposes Trump, running for national office, who has not been targeted by a Russian disinformation campaign. You know, like the one denied by President Trump as he groveled before Vladimir Putin. Like the one the Senate Intelligence Committee and his entire national security team says is underway for the midterms.
Imagine how embarrassing it would be if anyone found out that the Putin-Trump trolls had written off a politician without even one distorted personal attack, without pandering to the worst instincts on both sides of our political spectrum. They must have decided, in other words, that he or she was not worth crossing that troll bridge. How totally mortifying would that be?
I feel your pain, candidate. Without a derogatory nickname, I, too, have been turned away, cast off into social media oblivion. No Lyin’ Bob for me, no Crooked Bob, nor Little Bobbo, not even a Little Robert Man. We narcissists simply can’t handle the slight. The Donald, of all people, should know that. Disdain? Fine. Being ignored? That’s worse than death. My ego is too fragile for that. In fact, maybe that’s the one: Fragile Franken. It’s even accurate, which I know violates Trump’s usual standards, but this is a psychological emergency.
You have banished me to emotional solitary confinement, Mr. President. Ignore the fact that you have no earthly idea who I am. I’m someone who needs a nickname. Desperately.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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