Bob Franken


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What’s interestiIng about Washington is how the first rule for its leaders has always been to make sure they don’t have to follow many rules. Members of Congress have their “speech or debate” clause of the Constitution, which ends up meaning that no matter how they slander someone during their official proceedings, they won’t be held legally accountable. Presidents can’t be criminally prosecuted while in office without first being impeached and removed. What would normally be called “bribes” are “campaign contributions” in this world. The normal standards don’t apply here as long as the powers that be stick in their privileged positions.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of commandments that must not be violated, at any cost. First and foremost is “Thou shalt not get caught.” That one is obvious: Perps can get away with anything unless it’s found out. There’s also the law that applies to everyone — the Law of Gravity: What (or actually, who) goes up always comes down. What’s unique about Washington is that some fall faster than others.
For example, Donald Trump has flown above behavior that would normally cause anyone else to crash and burn. But now there are indications that the accumulated weight of his conduct might begin to drag even him down. Yes, we have heard that one before, but this time even this demagogic Houdini might not be able to escape. There are glimmers of activity from the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation suggesting that Mueller is compiling a bill of goods against Mr. Trump, who will now have to pay the full price.

Michael Flynn has re-emerged as a threat: The former three-star general, then candidate Trump cheerleader and briefly (24 days) national security adviser to President Trump, was caught being dishonest about his contact with Russian government higher-ups. Remember that it becomes a sin in Washington only if you get caught. Flynn got caught. He copped a plea admitting that he lied to FBI investigators, and since then has apparently been, uh, “cooperating” with prosecutors. The military man has flipped into a complete about-face: The guy who used to lead the Trump crowds in chanting “Lock her up,” aimed at Hillary Clinton, is now singing his heart out to avoid being locked up. And ultimately, isn’t it really fascinating that Donald Trump, whose ownership of casinos became such a debacle, might discover after all that his presidency is really just a house of cards?
There are so many who believe that Trump is not playing with a full deck. While they marvel at how he’s been able to fast-talk or fast-tweet his way out of one corner after another, sooner or later everything is a corner and anyone is squeezed in, even the Trumpster. Braggadocio based on outright lies can sustain one only so long. Harsh reality catches up. When the financial markets implode because of administration policies, when his way of doing personal business is fully exposed — and it will be — when the facts seep out about his sleazy side deals with Vladimir Putin and the Saudis, at some point they will become too much for even some of his so-called base, the ones who are not really “deplorable,” and who are uncomfortable realizing they’re consorting with genuine fascists.
Even though he’s elevated by opposition Democrats who are hellbent on self-destruction, some candidate might emerge from their crowd who can dodge all of Donald Trump’s slime and take him down. If that happens, in “go with the flow” Washington, the cowardly lions of the Republican Party, who have timidly played along with and embraced their president, will rush away from him the moment the tides turn against him. He’ll learn that deeply ingrained in the D.C. way of life is another law of the jungle: “Loyalty is for suckers.”

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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