Bob Franken


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Do you remember the movie “Johnny Dangerously”? It stars Michael Keaton in the title role. It was released in 1984, but it’s still rattling around for streaming. For that matter, everything is available for streaming, even Stormy Daniels’ epics. If that’s your thing, enjoy — no judging here. But “Johnny Dangerously,” which is certainly in a different category, is a favorite of mine. A really juvenile comedy, which is far and away my preferred genre.
One running joke in this spoof is the use of profanity by a particular character, Roman Moroni. Actually, what really makes people yuck it up is Moroni’s ALMOST profanity — the Italian gangster’s dialogue is riddled with terms like “cork soakers” and “fargin’ iceholes.” Trust me, it’s funny if you see the movie.
I’m not in the habit of doing film reviews; instead, I deal with the stranger-than-fiction world of politics. The latest preview of coming attractions involves congressional beginner Rashida Tlaib, Democrat from the Detroit area, who got caught up in all the enthusiasm of her new House of Representatives gig by telling a crowd that was definitely anti-Trump: “We’re going to impeach the motherf*****.”

That went beyond anything even the “Johnny Dangerously” film would mock. Social media exploded, and Republicans and Democrats alike rushed to the nearest cameras to denounce Rep. Tlaib’s description of the president’s Oedipus complex. Even more obscene, in the eyes of more experienced Democratic leaders, was Tlaib’s use of the “I word.” They know you’re living, uh, dangerously if just moments after you take over the House, you’re promoting impeachment. Tactically it appears the Dems are too anxious to wield their new powers.
Even so, the sanctimonious reactions have been staggering, even by Washington standards: “I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America.”
Those were the words of Donald Trump, the guy whose use of words like “sh**hole” and “pu***” have caused similar uproars. He’s made our use of asterisks soar, so those of us in media can practice our own hypocrisy and pretend we too don’t cuss like mule skinners.
Rep. Tlaib is not backing down, but she wasn’t talking to the reporters who trailed her, which is — how would Moroni put it? — “really fargin’ unusual”!
Consider this a learning experience for her and all the other novices. There are a few “never forgets” here. Like never forget that there are cameras and microphones everywhere, to say nothing of smartphones. Even when they’re not around, the D.C. swamp leaks.
And never forget that much of what happens here is greased by phony sweet talk; street talk won’t cut it. The only street people here care about is K Street, where so many special interest lobbyists have their offices from which they distribute their bribes … oh, excuse me, campaign contributions. True, Donald Trump avoids sweet-talking, but what has he really accomplished without the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been around here longer than dirt?
The fact that McConnell seems to be sitting out the negotiations over the government shutdown means that it has gone on much longer than it would have. That’s because Trump never really mastered the “Art of the Deal.” The impasse will be broken when McConnell surreptitiously slides in and works his sneaky compromise magic with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who also have played this game a few times. Donald Trump is simply out of his league.
So are all those political neophytes who are getting a lot of attention from the media neophytes who are attracted to bright new things. They are definitely not attracted to institutional knowledge, which will save the day. By that I mean a vast knowledge of how things get done. Or in the spirit of the movie “Johnny Dangerously,” let’s call it “half-vast knowledge.”

(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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