Bob Franken




True story: I used to live a couple of blocks away from the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States, which is the official name of the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in D.C.
Its proximity had obviously not been a problem — at least for me. That changed in 2015, when Pope Francis came to tour America and, for the duration of his visit to Washington, stayed at the embassy. Suddenly, the ‘hood was swarming with security people: Secret Service; local law enforcement; presumably a contingent of his Swiss Guard, although they were not in uniform. Traffic was blocked on certain streets. The point is that it curtailed our access.
It’s not an unusual problem in the nation’s capital, where residents have to adjust to protection details for those who warrant it. Nevertheless, one day during the pope’s visit, I decided to walk my dog in the woods that ran between my house and the embassy. I figured I’d see how far we could get. Imagine my surprise when there was no perimeter at all. Nothing.
Rather than shoot any video, I took my dog and high-tailed it back. We sought out the first group of people talking into their sleeves that we could find, and I did my duty as a good doobie citizen, informing them that their protective net had an opening. They immediately got on their communication devices, and suddenly the little neighborhood forest was crawling with agents.

I mention this because there is another place surrounded by a residential area packed with homes that might be disrupted by visiting heads of state: the Trump National Doral hotel and golf club, which Trump has recently been ballyhooing as the ideal place for them to gather for next year’s G-7. Granted it’s probably Donald Trump playing his usual distraction game in order to call attention away from his routine outrages, but as always, those of us in and around politics-biz got predictably bent out of shape. Every time he goes outlandish on us, we get sucked in.
The U.S. is up next to host the G-7 meeting (G-8, if Trump and Vladimir Putin get their way), and the president gets to make the arrangements. Donald Trump has been shamelessly promoting Doral. The fact that all those heads of state and their entourages would pay to stay at a Trump property is already causing all of us in in our unreality show to go bananas. (If I’ve offended any bananas reading this, it was unintentional.)
“Ethics issues!” we scream, but POTUS makes it clear he doesn’t give one whit about ethics. Already, news reports have already been published that suggest the Doral might be a bit dingy. The Trumpster has already denied that there are bedbugs there, even though a guest sued about them and got an out-of-court settlement.
Seriously, though: aren’t naysayers tiresome? Rather than complain, they should start planning. First up, they should discuss a staff. The service personnel need to be at their obsequious best. Happily, Donald Trump can choose from the entire Republican Party, the bulk of whose members have had ample experience in being his sycophants. Mike Pence has turned groveling into an art form; so have members of the Trump cabinet … at least those who remain.
Various members of Congress are already well qualified. Lindsey Graham could be in charge of valet parking, since it rhymes with ballet and he’s danced from criticism of Trump to unflinching loyalty. Actually, since Sen. Graham has played golf with the prez so often, he might fit better as his personal caddy.
As for the neighbors, who obviously can’t be around with so many heads of state, they will be homeless — in effect, involuntary refugees. There are at least two Trump answers to that problem: build a wall around their neighborhoods, or, even better, they can be held in migrant facilities. Temporarily, of course. Or until Congress intervenes, although the administration has a habit of simply ignoring Congress. So, unlike those of us on my street when the pope came to town, the Doral neighbors don’t have a prayer.

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

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