Bob Franken




As the summer of our despair turns to an equally bleak national autumn, it’s time to take note of those who have excelled at a unique political art form (I bet you never thought you’d see those words together). We really should pay homage to the victor in the month’s competition for best sound bite.
The winner of the Superlative Propounding of Incomplete Thoughts competition, the treasured SPIT award, for September is (pause for effect) Devin Nunes! This is an upset, because the champ is almost always Donald Trump. But he’s distracted these days, and appropriately so because he’s in deep spit over his attempted shakedown of Ukraine’s president.
Devin Nunes is a Republican congressman who is in President Trump’s pocket. He is among the most stridently partisan GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee, which is traditionally nonpartisan But traditions have been exploding left and right. Speaking of the left, in all fairness we should acknowledge that Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the committee, is no slouch when it comes to partisanship. In fact, he’s been among the most aggressive in pursuing the impeachment of Trump, now that his fellow Democrats have taken the plunge into those murky waters.

But back to showering the SPIT honors on Nunes. He won the coveted award for what he sputtered during a public hearing when he accused Democrats of dredging up all the accusations they can on his beloved POTUS mentor, and using every tactic at their disposal to pursue evidence — including seeking “nude pictures of Trump.”
Now, as repulsive as the thought of seeing Donald Trump in the buff is, Nunes actually had a reason for his winning outburst. Last year, Schiff received a call from Russian pranksters offering him “pictures of naked Trump.” Schiff thanked them and alerted law enforcement, telling federal agents the whole thing was probably “bogus,” and that was that.
At least it was until Nunes resurrected the horrible thought of Trump as the emperor with no clothes on. As usual, he had brutal competition from the Trumpster himself, who was doing what he usually does when he gets into trouble: hurling accusations at his accuser.
The whistleblower, in this case, a CIA analyst whose identity is a secret, accumulated a record of specifics and submitted to the inspector general a credible report of Trump trying to muscle his Ukrainian counterpart into investigating the family of the one he perceives to be his most dangerous re-election opponent, Joe Biden. Trump has called those who provided the whistleblower information “spies” and repeatedly suggested they should be executed for treason.
Meanwhile, it turns out that his White House minions were trying to cover up the evidence by hiding it in a super-secret computer. It further turns out that this has become normal procedure for staffers who try to conceal records anytime their leader blurts out something either grossly outrageous or illegal. That happens a lot.
Do not be at all surprised that the whistleblower’s prized cover is blown as he is identified in friendly media because a spiteful president or a staff member has leaked it. That’s what happened to the wife of Joe Wilson, a diplomat under “President” Dick Cheney who wouldn’t play ball when Cheney pretended Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In retaliation, Cheney had aide Scooter Libby blow the cover of Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, who worked for the CIA. By sad coincidence, Wilson died recently. Plame, who divorced Wilson and moved to New Mexico, is a Democratic candidate for Congress.
Dick Cheney wasn’t really president, of course; George Bush was. Cheney just seemed to run things. As controversial as the Bush presidency was, there are millions of formerly ardent opponents of his who look back on it fondly. The question for Donald Trump will be, How long until Americans can look back on his presidency, how many months, years or how many sound bites?

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

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