Bob Franken


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Pardon the name-dropping, but according to James Madison’s notes, Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention was supporting the necessity for impeachment when a high official has “rendered himself obnoxious.” It’s a crying shame they settled on only “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Those terms are so sedate compared with “rendered himself obnoxious.” Besides, just what are “high crimes and misdemeanors”? The answer, for the U.S. House of Representatives, is whatever a majority of its members says they are. Of course, that’s also the case with “obnoxious.”
The Democrats, who hold the majority these days, are doing what Democrats always do, running around all over the place like they’re in a Mack Sennett slapstick comedy. That’s not to be confused with a Senate comedy, where the actors don’t move at all. But I digress.
Right now, the House Democrats are in unanimous agreement that President Donald Trump “rendered himself obnoxious” with his very first breath, but they can’t get together on whether they should stop tippy-toeing and stomp ahead with impeachment.
Their leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the others in her team who have been around the track for several decades, hold firm to the idea that it’s tactically a lousy idea. It simply gives Trump something to jolt his supporters, as if they need jolting. Besides, House leaders insist, impeachment wouldn’t amount to much, because the Republican-dominated Senate will not come anywhere near voting to remove Trump from office, which, after all, would seem to be the point.

Even so, those House Democrats, particularly the younger members — let’s call them the “Teen Team” — have their hormones racing; their anti-Trump lust is boundless. They’re saying that they have to do something about a con man who violates every form of decency. Besides, the Trumpster and his accomplices are refusing to accommodate their congressional oversight process. Subpoenas are ignored, as is their insistence on records regarding Donald Trump’s finances and his ongoing obstruction of justice, as they see it. His attorneys and underlings have a stock answer when asked to justify their defiance: House Democrats have no “legitimate legislative purpose” for their demands. They know full well that purpose is whatever Congress declares it to be. So the Democratic hard-liners contend that if Donald Trump insists on a “legitimate legislative purpose,” how about impeachment?
It’s becoming more and more difficult for Speaker Pelosi to keep them at bay. Particularly when Donald Trump pulls stunts like angrily (he’s always angry) canceling an infrastructure meeting with Democratic leaders because Pelosi accused him of being “engaged in a cover-up.” That’s pretty mild, actually, fairly normal rhetoric in Washington. But Trump decided to blow up over it — or have one of his phony conniption fits. Whichever it was, he stormed out of the meeting after three minutes, held a news conference outside to insist that he wouldn’t wheel and deal with Democrats over the nation’s business until they call off their investigations. “I don’t do cover-ups,” he told reporters, who tried oh so hard to keep straight faces.
When Pelosi turns on her iron-fist-covered-in-a-glove routine, it gives Donald Trump fits. She was in rare form when she returned to the Capitol. She accused him of throwing a “tantrum.” Then she dropped her passive-aggressive bomb: “I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America.”
The week degenerated from there. Trump, in his subtle way, forced his aides to say individually for the cameras that he had been very calm. Meanwhile, his supporters put out a phony social media video, doctored to show Pelosi slurring her words. Pelosi is long noted for not drinking.
Oh, and let’s note that the Trumpster, at the same event that he turned his aides into simpering sycophants, described himself as “a very stable genius.”
Again, very straight faces, and no mention of Ben Franklin’s “obnoxious.”

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

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