Bob Franken


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The Democrats could use some sex education. Right now, their candidates are multiplying like crazy, all clamoring for that top berth on the party’s presidential ticket. They’re clearly in need of some berth control.
Absent any family planning, however, they’ll keep sprouting — young sprouts and old ones, black and white, male, female and alternative. There’s even an avatar named Beto. Beto O’Rourke is an empty baseball-cap-wearing concoction of millennial cliches, sharing every facet of his existence on social media.
Naturally, like every new bright, shiny object, he’s seduced the media, even scoring big wet kisses from Vanity Fair and Oprah. You don’t play the superficiality field better than that. His pronouncements are innocuous platitudes clearly aimed at the younger generation, but they borrow heavily from previous ones. Beto:
“We must all ask what each of us can give to this country and to the people who will inherit the consequences of our choices.”
Is it just coincidence, or is that borrowed from an applause line delivered more than 58 years ago by John F. Kennedy at his inaugural address? “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Thus far, Beto is coming across as being as authentic as a college admission application. Speaking of college (get ready for a totally clever segue), the Democrats should steal from college basketball to handle the logistics of their logjam of candidates, in arranging the debates for instance.
What better way to bring order to their party’s madness than March Madness? The selection committee can choose up to 68 candidates to appear in the debates. (They’re not there yet, but who knows?) They could be spread out over the country for their big dances. The Eastern regional would be held in New Hampshire. The state must have a big-enough arena somewhere. The Midwest obviously should be in Des Moines, even though the election game is played by completely weird caucus rules in Iowa. California, probably Los Angeles, would be the site of the Western region tourney, and South Carolina would host the Southern one. We’d do away with seeds. For those people too sane to get caught up in college hoops, a “seed” is kinda like a rating system, from the “top seed” on down. It’s somewhat arbitrary. Besides, what politician would want to be chosen as the most seedy?
It would be an elimination, the winners determined by polls to choose the most scathing sound bite.
The losers would drop out of the brackets. (Yes, there would be brackets — how else would everyone gamble?) That would leave the “sweet sixteen” candidates. They’d play off in the Super Tuesday tournaments.
Ultimately, they’d end up in Milwaukee, with the champions standing for president and vice president. That will probably be somebody and Beto O’Rourke, the grown-up and the empty slate. Much like George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle. Or like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.
But wait, we are just beginning. After all that, it’s on to the REALLY big dance, the Final Four battle with the incumbent, Donald Trump, and his lackey, Mike Pence. Has anyone noticed, perchance, that Pence came from Indiana, just like Quayle? Not everybody in Indiana is thrilled about that.
But back to the election madness. When it comes to a competition with Trump, there are no fouls; in fact, there are no rules whatsoever. The Trumpster strategy is the same one he’s always used: lying, cheating, hatred, all his usual stuff. His shower of tweets routinely contains all of that as he sets the agenda and steals his opponents’ message of the day. It works. Therefore Democrats, whoever they are, would do well not to get too smug about their superior qualifications.
One would think that given Trump’s unpopularity, it would be easy to wipe the floor with him. But that is anything but a slam dunk.

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

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