Bob Franken


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I know you’ll agree that sports metaphors are a tiresome technique employed by the mediocre writer. So I’m going to use one and suggest that in Thursday night’s CNN Republican brawl — uh, make that debate — Donald Trump was the paunchy old heavyweight fighter, frantically trying to fend off a relentless attack from the young opponent who was desperately attempting to overcome his reputation for being a wimp. So Marco Rubio bulked up and landed a barrage of punches on the flabby guy.
By the way, in case you’re wondering why I’d spend space on the Trumpster’s physical appearance, it’s because he’s done the same thing to women, and if he can be so misogynistic, then he can be the target for mister-sogynistics. To quote the cliché, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” And The Donald is one stuffed goose, which is obvious, no matter how well-tailored his Mexican-made suits are.
He was being pummeled by Marco “Talking Point” Rubio as well as Ted “Cheap Shot” Cruz. Little was off- limits: Trump’s inherited money, his commitment to Israel, his commitment to conservatism. Donald “Mr. Bluster” Trump flailed with his usual counterpunches, otherwise known as insults. At various times, his assailants were a “choke artist” “a liar,” “a basket case.”
But Rubio went toe-to-toe with him, even getting in some digs at his own expense by recalling how he’d been embarrassed at an earlier debate by over and over replaying his scripted answers. It was The Donald, said The Marco, who was really the grim repeater. In fact, my favorite moment of the night came when Trump insisted, “I don’t repeat myself! I don’t repeat myself!”
His real test comes when he tries to repeat his victories in the upcoming primaries, which are, as Bernie Sanders would say, “Yuuuuge.” We’ve got Super Tuesday coming right up. With its emphasis on Southern states, the expectation that Trumpie will carry the night sets him up for a fall.

Actually, the vote could be a particular disaster for Cruz. One of those states is Texas. Cruz hails from deep in the heart, which his detractors argue is the only heart he has. It’s possible he’ll lose to Trump in the Lone Star State, and if he does, his star will be dimmed, if not snuffed out.
Two weeks later, Rubio faces the same challenge in Florida. Getting beaten by Trump there would be a massive embarrassment, but at least he’d still have the satisfaction of sticking it to Trump for one night.
By the way, John Kasich, who is definitely in that “By the way” category, will doubtless suffer a fatal blow if he does badly in Ohio on the 15th. Then he’ll be heading back to the governor’s mansion in Columbus.
And let’s not forget Ben Carson. What’s that? You’ve forgotten him already? You’re not alone. He was onstage, but everyone simply ignored him, to the point that he finally exclaimed, “Can somebody attack me please?”
But alas, the attacks were mainly being fired at Trump, and not just from the debate arena. From south of the border, former Mexican President Vicente Fox dropped the f-bomb when talking about the wall that Trump constantly touts. Even more ludicrous, however, was the whiny tweet that Donny sent out in response, complaining that Fox “horribly used the F word.” That, to use another f-word, is pretty feeble.
Actually, this is not like a boxing match at all. Not even a wrestling match. Mud wrestling, maybe, but a friend of mine better described it as “All in the Family.” Unfortunately, every one of the characters is Archie Bunker. It didn’t take long for Trump to recover. The very next day, Chris Christie announced that he was endorsing The Donald. Not a surprise when you think about it. Appearing together, they could be billed as “Mean and Nasty.” It proves that this campaign could get even uglier.

© 2016 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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