Bob Franken


June 12, 2007
‘Do-Nothing’ Programming (Bob Franken)
@ 10:17 am

I have such a GREAT idea for C-SPAN. Picture watching this: The Senate grinds on up to the point that someone announces debate is about to begin on the immigration legislation. Then the screen goes blank. Well, in this case, maybe it simply shows a 700-mile-long fence. But the point is that no one would have missed anything.

Think of the possibilities: On the cable news networks, aerial shots of Paris Hilton’s motorcade could suddenly end. Fade to black.

Of course that will never happen. There would be an uproar. Besides, ratings would plummet. I mean, people really care about Paris Hilton. And as we found out, they really care about the “Sopranos”‘ ending, too, or the lack thereof.

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Never let it be said that George W. Bush has become a “Man without a Country.” They LOVED him in Albania. But otherwise in Europe, the president was a Man without a Continent.

Over here, absence didn’t exactly made the heart grow fonder either.

While there is nothing in the immigration legislation that prevents President Bush from getting back into the U.S., that’s about the only comfort he can take. While he was gone, the congressional mice were playing on both sides of the aisle. They were chasing their tails over immigration — actually more like hamsters running on that hamster treadmill that is the United States Senate. By week’s end the bill was pretty much stuck in quicksand.

More damning was the decision by the administration to pull the plug on Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace. Not that anyone had anything against him personally, you understand, but Gen. Pace has the misfortune of being associated with the Bush Iraq war — and even worse, with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld may be gone, but he sure as hell is not forgotten. This is a man who was once called a “rock star,” but now he’s a heavy stone who sinks anyone ever tied to him.

His successor, Robert Gates, is showing that he is a pragmatist, someone who is adept at reading the handwriting on the wall. And this handwriting read “Renominate Gen. Pace and we’ll seek answers about Iraq.” With that, the general was four-star toast.

Coming up — Democrats will try and burn the attorney general. It could once again be more than the president can, uh, stomach.

But he’ll always have Albania.

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The Dancers and the Jesters

June 8, 2007
The Dancers and the Jesters (Bob Franken)
@ 11:09 am

First of all: I don’t know why everyone is so excited. Joe Scarborough wasn’t wising off about pole dancing on his program. He’s a politician — a recovering congressman. Joe was talking about POLL dancing. All the candidates do it.

Speaking of Fred Thompson: He’s not the only one playing on the sidelines. Let’s not forget Newt Gingrich, who is hanging back, polishing his lecture about the book he’s reading this year.

Nor should we overlook Al Gore, Mr. Charisma, and his lectures about the book he’s written. Now Gore is advocating global cooling — reason in public debate, which, when you think about it, is totally unreasonable. Right now, he’s on his “I’m no running but please keep asking me” tour.

Oh, the latest on Scooter Libby: There is NO truth to the rumor that President Bush has been singing “From the Rose Garden, I didn’t promise you a pardon.” What a dilemma! And not just for the president. What if the judge decides Libby must start serving his sentence? Should the Bureau of Prisons send him to Guantanamo Bay? Or to an “Undisclosed Location,” so he can be in more familiar surroundings?

Some will remember the comedian Mort Sahl, who would end his routine by saying, “Is there anyone I haven’t insulted yet?” Well, if there is, please forgive the oversight.

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Borderline Futility

June 7, 2007
Borderline Futility (Bob Franken)
@ 1:22 pm

I’d like to borrow from the debates and ask everyone who thinks the immigration problem is about to be solved to raise his/her hand.

Oh come on: NOBODY? Congratulations, everybody.

But what we’re witnessing is not about fixing this problem. It’s about politicians trying to finesse the issue —t rying to make as much political capital as they can and then moving on to something else.

And of course, we in the media, who have the collective attention span of a gnat, are all too happy to move on to something else. I mean, Paris Hilton is out of jail for crying out loud.

And besides, how many stories can we do about the “Human Side of the Immigration Debate” (“This is Maria — she doesn’t want her name used because she is here illegally, etc., etc. —”)?

But here’s the dirty little secret: A lot of our biggest challenges cannot really be overcome. Not really. Healthcare? Give me a break. It’s true. Our current system is a grossly unfair mess. But the various one-size-fits-all proposals out there are really one-size-fits-NO ONE.

Same with education: In so many cities (and some suburbs, too), if you don’t got money, you don’t got decent schooling. That’s private schooling, because the public education system which is the backbone of our country is broken.

I am trying to make two points here: First of all, the battle between politics and good government has been won. By politics. And secondly, if you want to see real change in our country, you’re going to have to make sacrifices.

Notice I said “YOU.” Because I sure as hell am not going to sacrifice. Are you kidding? So: I’ve seen the problem, and it’s — ME. And all of us.

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