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IN DEFENSE OF BACK STABBING

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY JULY 12, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF BACK STABBING
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I don't remember the first time I heard this, but it's been a while: "Things are so bad in Washington that they're stabbing each other in the front!" Backstabbing is a way of life, not just in world capitols, but across the planet, in government and certainly in politics. And for good reason. It works. Where is that truer than diplomacy? Just ask Sir Kim Darroch.
Darroch is now a household name as the former British ambassador to the United States. He's "former" because he got caught being candid and had to resign because of it. He had made his mark in Washington as a social butterfly, ingratiating himself with the powerful, particularly the Trumpsters. That included a swirl of parties at the British Embassy, where various highly placed government figures were constantly seen.
It's a platitude that the U.S. and the U.K. publicly enjoy a "special relationship" and even though that nation and this administration have had some prickly moments, when President Donald Trump decided to do London recently, he was greeted by all the pageantry the Brits could muster - and they do great pageantry. There was even time with the queen and tea with other royals. They spread it on thick.
At the same time, Darroch was sending cables to the home office describing Trump as "clumsy and inept," "radiating insecurity," and his administration as "Dysfunctional and "unpredictable."
All well and good, as long as his cables were super-secret, like they were supposed to be. But alas, the tabloid Daily Mail got hold of them. In this age of hacking, nothing is secret anymore. Certainly not old-timey diplomatic cables. And Donald Trump let loose with some vicious front-stabbing, using his favorite butcher block: Twitter.
He described Daarroch as "the wacky ambassador" and "a very stupid guy." Not "well liked," Trump ranted. Most damningly, he continued, "we will no longer deal with him." Well, that one was the killer. It is the ambassador's principal job to "deal" with the home government. So he had no choice but to write a take-this-job-and-shove-it letter. He had broken the first rule of backstabbing: "Don't get caught."


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By the way, Donald Trump is definitely a front-stabber, as evidenced by his brutal tweets. He's also a major league backstabber. Ask any embattled Cabinet member or highly placed White House official who has received warm words of support from POTUS only to be soon on the outside, wondering who or what sliced them. The latest example is Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who is so ensnared in the vile Jeffery Epstein scandal. He's “resigned” now, even as President Trump stood by his side and declared "I'm with him"
To be bipartisan, House Speaker Nancy PelosI no slouch either. Her biggest problem is with the lefty newbies in her caucus, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have not figured out that the best way to fight with knives in Washington is from behind. Anytime she and they don't get their way in Congress, they shout out their insults on social media, often aimed at fellow Democrats. As a result, the party is doing what it does best, which is to say splattering. A very frustrated Pelosi, who is a well-seasoned "inside player” She was recently described as someone who would "cut your head off and you won't even know you're bleeding" That portrayal, by the way, came from Pelosi' daughter, Alexandra. At the moment, Speaker Pelosi is sternly warning her charges "don't tweet." Keep it in the family, she warns. What goes on with the Democrats stays with the Democrats. Except when it doesn't.
To be fair, and not to condescend about the dark art of politics, this is not just a skill that Ssaturates the public arena. Any organization, private or semi-private as well, is infacted with backstabbers. My business, journalism, is permeated with them, both print and broadcast. Without a doubt, digital is also crawling with them. In fact, anyone in any business has experienced those who have gotten ahead this sleazy way.
One might argue that dealing straighforwardly is for suckers. To put it another way, if you don't have knives stuck in your back, it's because you're not important.

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

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