Bob Franken




We’ve been through this before: On Jan. 20, 1981, Iran was letting the hostages go after holding them prisoner in Tehran for 444 days. Outgoing President Jimmy Carter was dealing with the crisis up until the last seconds, as the Carter administration segued into the Reagan administration. Then President Ronald Reagan took the reins, welcoming home the hostages.
Obviously, it was all choreographed. The Iranians had a particular hostility toward Carter, because they believed he had supported the repressive rule of the shah. So they insisted that Reagan was president before the official announcement was made. Carter and Reagan went along and played their parts to make sure the final chapter of this saga went off without a hitch, much like the transition of the U.S. government went smoothly.
That’s how it’s always gone; until now. Defeated president Donald Trump has made the takeover by victor Joe Biden unduly difficult, and occasionally impossible, because he’s refused to cooperate, while putting up every kind of legal roadblock he can. Oftentimes it’s been extralegal. His claims of election fraud have been fraudulent, but he’s tried every shameful trick he can to thwart the obvious will of the American people.
In 2021, the international adversary is the same. Iran is emboldened because the “Great Satan,” at least in their view, is puny, weakened by four years of Donald Trump’s rule, culminating in the chaos as he bows out.
So the truculence in the Middle East is escalating. But it also leads to the suspicion that hardliners in the Trump administration, including Trump himself, may be trying to contrive a crisis as a way to hold on to power, because America will have no choice. That might be the reason Trump returned to Washington early. Just in case…
But the United States does have a choice, a Constitution, which requires that Biden and his people take over at noon on Jan. 20. We witnessed that 40 years ago, because the outgoing chief executive believed in the process, as opposed to the current one, who believes only in his self-interests.

However, the ayatollahs who still run Iran are no dummies. From a PR point of view, it would be the exact wrong time to goad the Americans, which would set us off and turn the world against them. Furthermore, any subterfuge where Israel were to launch an attack against Tehran would be viewed as such deceit — where Netanyahu would be seen as acting on orders of the Trump having his last gasp — that he would hold out because it was a lousy idea.
The point is, it probably won’t happen, but with this loopy president, anything is possible. So we need to worry until Jan. 20 at noon, when the Trumps are dragged out of the White House and the Bidens can start in their quest to restore sanity.
Donald Trump and all his Trumpsters become private citizens, and play by the same rules and laws as anyone else. No longer are they the subject of endless boring pundit discussions with the general title of “Under the Constitution, can he really do that?” The truth is that under the Constitution he won’t be able to do any more than any other American.
Not that he won’t try. If we have learned anything about Donald Trump, it’s that he has a lot of gall. It’ll be interesting to see what exotic and creative arguments his attorneys raise to get him out of the legal and financial messes he’s already accumulated.
He’s about to find out. We only have to hold our breaths for a few days now to see what desperate moves he has left. He can still do some damage, but he’ll pay for it, and the ones around him will also pay. How willing are they to do that?
So, Donald Trump: Whatever tricks you have left, why not avoid the hassle? It’s too bloody late. They won’t work.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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