Bob Franken

Last Week’s King Features Column

(Writers note: The columns syndicated by King Features must wait a week before they can be distributed at this site:)


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If there is one thing we can say about this election, it’s been terrific television. So it makes absolute sense that Fox News’ Glenn Beck would attract huge crowds to his Washington tent meeting in late summer, and that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would pack in even larger ones in late October with their massive testimonial to political irony. This was politics as spectacle, and the time has come to recognize the excesses, the buffoonery, of those who have caused us to laugh until we cried.

The other branches of showbiz have their self-congratulatory awards — the Oscar, the Emmy, the Grammy. It is only fitting, then, to acknowledge the outstanding achievement in outlandish rhetoric that defined the melodrama that has played out all across the great American midway. The time has come to name the first-ever winners of the election Groany awards. We’re honoring those who most made us groan: “You gotta be kidding!”

This year’s competition has been brutal, and there has been a richness of embarrassments. We are not even going to bother with a Best New Artist champ. There are just too many out there unwittingly drowning us in their witlessness.

There is no sense trying to hold everyone in suspense, waiting for the Groanies’ top prize. There is just no question who is No. 1 on the twit parade.

That would be the memorable singsong from Christine O’Donnell, the surprise Republican nominee from the small but mighty state of Delaware. Who will ever forget: “I Am Not a Witch.” It’s an instant classic. Or, “That’s in the First Amendment?”

She easily tops another top performer, the gubernatorial candidate in Rhode Island, Frank Caprio. Caprio has captured just how raw the emotions have gotten with his message to the president of the United States that he should “really shove it.” Obviously this was genuinely heartfelt since, like President Barack Obama, Frank Caprio is a Democrat.

It is not exactly clear what was behind the constant refrain: “Man Up.” This was a favorite of several female competitors, who were raging against their various male opponents. They ran the gamut from Robin Carnahan, the Democrat running for Senate in Missouri, to Sharron Angle, the GOP/tea party candidate in Nevada. Did this have something to do with “electile” dysfunction?

When it came to the biggest stars, there can be no question about the choice for the performer-of-the-year Groany. Time and again the Grizzly Mama, Sarah Palin, pushed the boundaries to extreme. Who else would have the stones to declare that the president lacks “cajones.”

Far-out Alaska became the home of the far-out. Take Joe Miller, the state’s official Republican for Senate. His words are simple but powerful: “I Lied.” He deserves special recognition. This reluctant admission came after he was investigated in a state ethics exam. He tried very hard to keep documents secret, before a court ordered their release. But when a persistent reporter had the audacity to repeatedly ask about them, Miller’s private security guards grabbed this journalistic miscreant and handcuffed him. Yes, Joe Miller had his own interpretation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The music went on and on with virtuoso performances from Rand Paul, to Ken “No Compromise” Buck, to the Nevada Malaprop Pops orchestra, featuring Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, to Carl Paladino, whose “I’ll take you out!” comment to a reporter probably was not an invitation to dinner.

This election was seriously divisive, but it was good for a few laughs. For all you candidates who hear the guffaws as you’re slithering around, forget the old platitude. We are not laughing with you, but at you.

© 2010 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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