Bob Franken


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I’ve always loved the story about Babe Ruth, negotiating his salary in 1930 as the Great Depression gripped the nation. When told he was being paid a higher amount than President Herbert Hoover, his response was: “I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.”
Fast-forward to now, when we have French President Francois Hollande declaring that Donald Trump makes him “want to retch.” Well, Trump might be forgiven if he wanted to, uh, throw up a snarky response like this: “I had a better year than Hollande.”
That’s a fact. As high as the Donald’s unfavorables have been in the polls — 60 to more than 70 percent in the latest ones — he’s still doing better than Hollande, who is held in low regard by an incredible 9 out of 10 men and women in France. When I was in Nice, Hollande came to show his support the day after last month’s terror attack that left more than 80 dead. As his motorcade sped past, the crowds lining the sidewalks loudly booed him.
Besides, it’s not really the opinion of a foreign leader that matters to Trump. What is important, however, is the number of leaders in the U S of A, from his own Republican Party, who are declaring that his temperament, harsh policies and flat-out ignorance make it impossible for them to support him. Sen. Susan Collins said so in a Washington Post op-ed. Fifty national-security types, including two Homeland Security secretaries from the Bush administration, signed a letter declaring their opposition to him. They’re not the only ones from the GOP, even as some of the party’s leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, grit their teeth and continue to endorse him.

While it is true that Trump has had a good year, it’s been a disaster for him since his nominating convention. Whenever he ad-libs, he manages to say something asinine or inflammatory. His recent riff on “Second Amendment people” dealing with Hillary Clinton is just the latest stream of consciousness that is really a stream of unconsciousness. Same for his “sarcasm” that Barack Obama and Clinton are “founders” of ISIS. It’s little wonder he has dropped like a stone in the polls, and Hillary has taken flight at his expense. Every time he goes off the teleprompter, he demonstrates he’s dangerously out of his league.
He’s foundering, no doubt about it. Hillary is profiting to the point that many of her supporters are suggesting it’s time for her to start sizing up the drapes for when she moves into the White House. But they’d better put their measuring tape away. There is still the chance to do what Democrats excel at: snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That’s another way of saying that Hillary and her Clintonistas must be sure they avoid a case of overconfidence. It could be fatal.
She still has a favorability deficit of her own, a big one. The latest Gallup poll places her 15 percent underwater. When it comes to the popularity contest against herself, she’s losing. Not as bad as Donny, but not a position of strength. She is just disliked less than he is. So far.
All it would take is some brutal revelation of dishonest dealings by her, her family and/or associates and the props holding her up could be kicked away. There are many on her side who are holding their breaths about a hacked release of all her private server emails that she and her lawyers decided were “personal.” There is no evidence that they contain any damning disclosures; it is her constant evasiveness that raises suspicions.
Babe Ruth also defended his salary ($80,000 a year, by the way, to President Hoover’s $75,000) by asking “How many home runs did he hit last year?” There is still plenty of time for Hillary to strike out and have a truly wretched finish.

© 2016 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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