October 30, 2014

OCTOBER SURPRISE REVISITED

ET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, OCT. 24, 2014
OCTOBER SURPRISE REVISITED
BY BOB FRANKEN
---
Well, I seem to have had my own October surprise. Ever since I wrote that the concept was outdated, that there wasn’t any such thing anymore, I’ve seen evidence that we’re up to our necks in them.
Surprise No. 1 has to be Ebola. Obviously the deadly illness is not the concoction of some sick-minded political operative, like so many late campaign events are. It’s a deadly force of nature. What’s made it an election issue is the uneven response by medical authorities and the impression that the boss, President Barack Obama, has not been up to the job of whipping into shape an effective plan.
That perception is largely unfair, but the crack White House communications team once again has been overwhelmed by developments and has left the chief executive unprotected from charges that he’s not in command of things. They haven’t even been able to stay on top of the incendiary and somewhat irresponsible coverage on cable. The Republicans have taken full advantage, fanning the flames with simple-minded ideas aimed at a nation that’s been allowed to panic because no one on the administration’s side has been effectively controlling the message. So the GOP has been drawing campaign blood just days before the midterms with crude approaches, like suggesting a total ban on travel from the West African countries consumed by Ebola.
Never mind that it’s unworkable; the harsh heckling from the opposition seems to have intimidated the president somewhat, or that’s how it looks, and Americans don’t like to feel that their leaders can be successfully browbeaten.
In the Obama administration’s case, that line of attack hits the president where he’s vulnerable. He’s been worn down with a series of goof-ups. Where do we start? How about the rollout of Obamacare last year, which was an unmitigated disaster. The failure to recognize the capabilities of ISIL ranks right up there, or perhaps, more accurately, down there. Stir in ingredients like the Veterans Affairs scandal, the klutzy performance of the Secret Service, etc., and it’s easy to understand why Americans get a little skeptical about their government and start having doubts about the guy at the top.
It helps explain why so many Democratic candidates in this midterm election are running for office and doing everything they can to distance themselves from Barack Obama, while the Republicans do everything but surgically attach them at the hip. The president has gone along, and stayed in the background as his fellow party members deny that he exists. But even there, the man who always had a way with words is now tripping over his mouth. He’s appears to have taken lessons from Vice President Joe Biden

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October 29, 2014

MSNBC IN THE DARK STILL AGAIN

Another Thursday dawn for me on MSNBC , the day before Halloween. I'll be a mix of goulish and foolish.

October 27, 2014

EBOLA FOOLISHNESS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, OCT. 21, 2014
EBOLA FOOLISHNESS
BY BOB FRANKEN
(THIS COLUMN IS A WEEK OLD PER MY AGREEMENT WITH THE SYNDICATOR)

Here’s a concept: Let’s come up with an idea that would make things worse even if it worked, which it wouldn’t. That would describe the proposal to prevent all people coming from the three West African nations devastated by Ebola -- Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia -- from entering the United States. The U.S., it seems, is also ravaged by a growing disproportionate hysteria about Ebola, and most of all by cynical politicians, largely conservatives, who are exploiting the alarm for a chance to score some points against the Democratic president in the days leading up to the election. They’re trying to capitalize on an impression that he is dithering as this killer illness threatens public safety here in the homeland. Now they’ve even been joined by some craven Dems, like North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who is in a close race and has reversed her position that a travel ban would be a bad idea, folding under the pressure of her voters seeking a simple solution to their fears.
As I said, it won’t work. Someone who really wants to get to the U.S. easily can exploit porous borders and huge accountability gaps in our travel system. Not only that, but efforts to stop Ebola at its source -- which is West Africa -- would be stymied because the aid workers sent to the region from this country wouldn’t be allowed to return. Do we make an exception for them, even if they’ve been exposed, as some have suggested? Then what would be the point?


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October 23, 2014

SHOULD WE EVEN BOTHER TO VOTE?

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 2014
SHOULD WE EVEN BOTHER TO VOTE?
BY BOB FRANKEN
This is the time of year when we hear all the drumbeating to get out the vote. Unfortunately, for too many Americans, the question is, "What for?" After all, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that two-thirds of those questioned believe the country is going in the wrong direction. Favorable ratings for the Democratic Party are at a 30-year low of 39 percent, and Republicans are even lower, 33 percent. That same survey, by the way, puts Barack Obama's approval rating at 40 percent, which is also a new low for him.
This is the midterm election, though, which is not about Obama. Among other things, it's about deciding who will make up the next Congress, and whether Republicans, who now control the House, also will take over the Senate.
Except that to a large degree, this IS about Obama. The GOPs are running against him and his dismal approval numbers. Nearly all the Dems are running away from him. The most glaring example is the Senate race in Kentucky, where the Democratic candidate, Alison Grimes, isn't even willing to say whether she voted for Mr. Obama in his presidential races. He's that unpopular in the state.
In the process, though, Mrs. Grimes has embarrassed herself to the point that the party's money people are pulling out their ad dollars. Obviously, they've concluded that Kentuckians will choose Mitch McConnell for his sixth term. Not only that, but if the Republicans take over the Senate, which looks likely, McConnell almost certainly will become majority leader, the guy who runs the show.
Here's the thing: McConnell is really unpopular in the state. The polls show that he, too, rates just above pond scum. But the D's ran such a bad campaign (or came up with such a weak candidate -- or both) that residents of the state are left with little option but to hold their noses when they vote for one or the other.

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