August 22, 2016

COMIC STRIP POLITICS

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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 19, 2016
BY BOB FRANKEN
COMIC STRIP POLITICS
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“I am who I am,” says Donald Trump, getting in touch with his inner Popeye. (I know it’s “I yam what I yam,” but cut me some slack here, Popeye purists.) Trumpy the railer man was assuring his interviewer that he’s definitely not going to get all Wimpy moving forward. That’s both fair and foul.
It’s fair because he’s gotten to where he is with a nasty mix of bigotry and hateful insults, spewing his sewage to millions who have made him their hero. Of course, that toxic mix is cheap-shot demagoguery and is as foul as it can be. But it’s the @realDonaldTrump, so why should he pretend he’s anyone else?
He has been under a lot of pressure to do just that from seasoned Republicans who say that he needs to turn down the spite spigot and try to act like a serious presidential candidate now that he is, in fact, the GOP nominee. Their contention is that while the hard-right-wingers in their party got whipped up enough by his simple-minded belligerence to put him at the top of their heap, the general electorate -- even those who can’t abide the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton -- might be horrified by his repeated crass cruelty.
The campaign brought on a political pro, Paul Manafort, whose job it was to somehow make Donald Trump appear to be at least minimally plausible to be president of the United States. Manafort deposed the first campaign leader, Corey Lewandowski, whose main strategy was “Let Trump Be Trump.” Lewandowski got to be vicariously Popeye, and among the ways he enforced his approach was to harshly grab the arm of a female reporter. He was accused of assault, but the charges were dropped. Later, thanks to Manafort, Lewandowski was dropped.

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August 18, 2016

POO POO POLITICS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, AUG. 16, 2016
BY BOB FRANKEN
POO POO POLITICS
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If you had any doubts about how juvenile those of us in newsbiz are, put them to rest. Look no further than how much attention we gave pundit Fareed Zakaria after he was asked on TV to characterize Donald Trump. He called him a “bulls**t artist.” Now, Zakaria is considered a serious columnist, perhaps even pompous, and he doesn’t usually get all that much attention. But let him drop the “b” word, and we callow ones can’t stop tittering and talking about him. (And, yes, I’m so immature that I go out of my way to use the word “titter.”)
As for Zakaria, he obviously recognized that he had cussed his way into publicity pay dirt, so he even decided to follow up and write a serious analytical piece on the history and meaning of the term “bulls**t.” Here’s my quick review of that column: totally boring bulls**t.
It’s not that he was wrong. When all is said and done, Trump is a bulls**t artist. His most famous book probably should have been called “The Art of the Bulls**ter.”
To be clear, it’s not that vulgarities offend me personally. When it comes to my private conversations, I swear by swearing. But a lot of people don’t, and they don’t want their precious little tykes to hear such talk, even though their precious little tykes casually use foul language the moment they’re out of earshot of mommy and/or daddy.
It’s just that there are so many clever ways to describe The Donald without being quite so crass. My personal favorite came from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who characterized Trump’s rhetoric as “verbal poo-poo.” Doesn’t that have a nice touch? Donny’s talk of “Second Amendment people” dealing with Hillary? “Verbal poo-poo.” Same for his “sarcasm” about President Barack Obama being the ISIS “founder”: poo-poo. And when he describes the miserable shape the nation is in, he’s poo-mouthing the country.

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August 15, 2016

NOT SO FAST HILLARY

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 12, 2016
BY BOB FRANKEN
NOT SO FAST HILLARY
I’ve always loved the story about Babe Ruth, negotiating his salary in 1930 as the Great Depression gripped the nation. When told he was being paid a higher amount than President Herbert Hoover, his response was: “I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.”
Fast-forward to now, when we have French President Francois Hollande declaring that Donald Trump makes him “want to retch.” Well, Trump might be forgiven if he wanted to, uh, throw up a snarky response like this: “I had a better year than Hollande.”
That’s a fact. As high as the Donald’s unfavorables have been in the polls -- 60 to more than 70 percent in the latest ones -- he’s still doing better than Hollande, who is held in low regard by an incredible 9 out of 10 men and women in France. When I was in Nice, Hollande came to show his support the day after last month’s terror attack that left more than 80 dead. As his motorcade sped past, the crowds lining the sidewalks loudly booed him.
Besides, it’s not really the opinion of a foreign leader that matters to Trump. What is important, however, is the number of leaders in the U S of A, from his own Republican Party, who are declaring that his temperament, harsh policies and flat-out ignorance make it impossible for them to support him. Sen. Susan Collins said so in a Washington Post op-ed. Fifty national-security types, including two Homeland Security secretaries from the Bush administration, signed a letter declaring their opposition to him. They’re not the only ones from the GOP, even as some of the party’s leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, grit their teeth and continue to endorse him.

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August 10, 2016

THE NATIONAL SPLIT

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, AUG. 9, 2016
BY BOB FRANKEN
THE NATIONAL SPLIT
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There’s an interesting debate going on among some liberals, some “Never Trump” holdouts and even some other conservatives. It is a really fundamental question: Can they be personal friends with supporters of Donald Trump? They have decided that Trump stands for bigotry, misogyny and cruelty toward the handicapped -- and, in fact, anyone who dares criticize him, even the parents of a Muslim soldier who died defending this country. They’ve concluded that his backers clearly must share outlooks which they abhor, or at least find them acceptable. So, can they maintain cordial relations with them, or must they shun them? OR are they reacting to intolerance with an intolerance of their own? For a number of Americans, it’s a personal dilemma.
It’s also a spreading issue in politics, which is the antithesis of personal. It’s usually not about scruples, but calculation. That’s clearly what’s motivating various leaders of the Republican Party. Typical of double dealers, they are trying to have it both ways. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. John McCain, even Trump’s running mate Mike Pence are among many in the GOP making it obvious time and time again that they are repelled by the repeat instances of Donald Trump ugliness, like those relentless, cringe-worthy attacks on the grieving parents of Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber. But, deeply offended though they may be, they can’t bring themselves to abandon their endorsement of Trump.

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