Bob Franken




No matter what the paralyzing national crisis, some things never change, like the inevitable disputes over who is “essential” and which jobs are “nonessential.” Through all the partial federal government shutdowns, that distinction has become a status symbol. And even though this worldwide medical calamity is an infinitely more serious threat to millions of people it’s still left to some federal, state or local official to determine what private services are essential and what should be shut down, with millions sent to almost solitary confinement, or even worse, forced to spend all their time with the kids, imprisoned by a scary organism.
The newscasts are filled with gargantuan cancellations or postponements: The Olympics just set back for a year; many schools shut down for the semester; restaurants, deemed a luxury in these dangerous times, are ordered closed in the name of “social distancing.”
You might have guessed where I am going with this. Certainly many in the public health field would like to declare President Donald Trump definitely nonessential — or worse, an impediment to their efforts to save the planet, or at least the nation, from this frightening plague. As a matter of fact, in their heart of hearts they would prefer that he enter lockdown, voluntary or not.
Because nearly every time he appears on TV for the daily briefing he says something stupid, something that interrupts the professionals as they go about their tedious chipping away at this complex problem.
But President Trump, who is the boss man at the moment, is a mile wide and an inch deep, too shallow for tedium or, for that matter, complexity. He cannot wait for the experts to do their job and methodically develop a way to treat this stealthy invader. He always finds it necessary to muddy the waters, recklessly spouting off misinformation — for instance, his unschooled analysis of drugs that may or may not work.

Where patience is necessary, he is impatient. After the experts he assembled convinced enough state and local officials that a historic economic shutdown was needed to combat this microscopic monster, he got in the way. He has an election coming up, by the way, and the economic devastation that battling COVID has caused is unacceptable. Now Trump has semi-promised that the national ordeal will be over by Easter, and public health officials are horrified. He brushed off their loud complaints by insisting that the nation needs to get up and running again.
Even some of his fellow Republicans were appalled. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sputtered, “The fact is, we save our economy by first saving lives, and we have to do it in that order.” Trump isn’t used to that kind of friction, certainly not from the totally intimidated members of his own party. So DeWine is now enshrined on the Donald Trump snit list.
He joins longtime member Mitt Romney, who, after all, was the GOP senator who voted to remove Trump from office during the impeachment crisis (remember that one?).
During the coronavirus scare, Mitt decided to self-quarantine. When he heard the news from reporters, the Trumpster reacted with dripping sarcasm. Now it turns out that Romney tested negative. Trump has not lost his taste for sarcasm: “This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak. He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!”
These days, RINO, a Republican in name only, means a Republican who would actually dare to defy the Don while the rest of the GOP mob is too frightened to.
Certainly, the mild-mannered scientists aren’t emotionally equipped to fight him; although gentleman Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has emerged a key task force health advisor, kills him with kindness. But the better way to combat this existential threat is to declare the president nonessential and get him out of the way.

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

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