Bob Franken


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Anybody who’s watched the cheesiest Mafia movie knows that when the Don plants the “kiss of death” on someone, that someone is not long for this world. In the newest version of the even more cheesy drama of politics, the Donald’s kiss of death probably would mean the same thing if he and his administration didn’t so resemble “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” Not that he hasn’t tried.
Recently, it was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whom Donald Trump tried to kill with kindness. In one tweet, he gushed, “I give her a great deal of credit for what she’s done and what she’s accomplished.” Those “kind” words didn’t stop her from gently stomping all over him during their battle over wall funding, nor did it prevent her from mocking him at his State of the Union speech, with her faux respectful applause gesture, which was really the mannerly version of an extended middle finger.
Now he’s trying to butter up Bernie Sanders, who has just announced that he’ll be running for president again, joining the herd of other Democrats already in the barnyard, with plenty more clamoring to join them/ President Trump wasted no time offering this faint praise of Sanders to reporters in the Oval Office: “Personally I think he missed his time. But I like Bernie because he’s — he is one person that, you know, he sort of would agree on trade.” Of course he called him “Crazy Bernie,” in a tweet, reviving his 2016 nickname.

If Bernie Sanders was Homer Simpson, he’d grunt “D’oh!” But obviously Bernie Sanders is not Homer Simpson. First, he’s not not yellow and he definitely has more hair — and he is way smarter (talk about faint praise). His message seems to be, if you’re looking for candidates who are supporters of “Medicare-for-all,” free college and the rest of the stuff that we’d love to have, I’m the original one in this bunch.
Bernie and all the Bernies-come-lately are borrowing from his ultraliberal libretto, singing the same arias as they tread into the bullring that Sanders trod the last time around, when he gave Hillary Clinton fits. He rattled her cage for two reasons: One, she certainly was not a superb candidate. She did, after all, manage to lose to Donald Trump. It’s hard to tell who was more surprised on election night — her or Trump. But she did beat Bernie among the Democrats by being the party’s careful establishment offering to his wild-haired wild man. Reason No. 2 was that very caution, which did her in with many in the party. A lot of Sanders’ disgruntled supporters, shaggy or otherwise, stayed home in November. Presto, Donald Trump took up residence in the White House, after Hillary had already measured for drapes.
These days more and more of “Crazy Bernie’s” ideas are sounding sane to those who seek major change from the rot that Donald Trump has wrought. Radical has become mainstream on the left, to the delight of Trump and his GOP opportunistic operatives. They are already screaming “socialism” or worse every chance they get, and even presenting their new Republican role model, Donald Trump, as the comparatively sensible one. Characteristically, the Democrats are unraveling.
You have those in the hard left, and those who present themselves as “centrists”. These so-called centrists insist that they share the progressive goals, but also contend that reality dictates they can be achieved only incrementally. The immoderates charge that centrists are trying to have it both ways. They may have a point, because that would probably define “centrist.”
The Republicans can focus on one guy, the Trumpster. Even as GOP gadflies run against him, the party is too far gone to consider any alternatives. However, the Democrats are in their normal state of kablooie, while Trump and his forces are in lockstep behind him, waiting to make the Democrats’ chaos the election issue instead of him. If they are successful, the D’s can kiss another election goodbye.

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

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