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(In case it wasn't obvious let me mention that this column appears here a week after its newspaper release. That's because of the syndication deal)

       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, AUG. 17, 2012
       THE “CHAIN” SCRUTINY
       BY BOB FRANKEN
       This is really important stuff, people. Mitt Romney and his crew, otherwise known as the “Romneyhood” merry band are seriously bent over the latest “Obamaloney.”
       Those zippy terms are among the latest products of the highly paid staffs on both sides. By the standards of this campaign, they are soaring eloquence. Almost everything else is deceitful bluster.
       The latest tempest in a teapot is once again a creation of the always-smooth-talking Vice President Joe Biden. There he was in Virginia, trashing Romney for wanting to “unchain Wall Street.” So far so good, but then he got worked up and added “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”
       Notwithstanding the fact that Delaware Joe’s “y’all” before a Southern audience was flat-out phony, his choosing the word “chains” probably was not the best example of verbal finesse. And we all know how Biden always epitomizes finesse.
       Republicans saw a small opening, and they jumped right in. Mitt himself, who knows a thing or two about rhetorical embarrassment, nevertheless couldn’t wait to smite the enemy with his outrage, real or contrived. “This is what an angry, desperate presidency looks like,” he quickly inserted into his next speech.
       Actually, it was the vice presidency, but let’s not quibble. Some felt that Mr. Biden has crossed the line with “chains,” leaving the impression that he believes the Republicans are promoting slavery. Even in this era of poisonous rhetoric, slavery is a no-no. It’s bad form, sort of like comparing your opponents with Nazis. I hate this expression, but don’t go there.
       It would have been so much better if Biden would have avoided the C-word, and just stuck to the S-word, “shackles.” That tiny bit of fine-tuning would have precisely described a fundamental difference between the governing philosophies of the two sides.


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       We are being implored by Mitt Romney and his puppeteers to pity the poor bankers and other corporate titans who have to struggle with such unreasonable constraints. Day after day, their bad behavior is revealed: Bankers who manipulated fundamental credit rates or laundered money for Iran; mortgage subsidiaries that entrapped homeowners in their careless and fraudulent derivative schemes and caused the world economy to tank, the same operators who then phonied up foreclosure papers by the millions. Yeah, those guys, the ones who continue to make millions of dollars in compensation and avoid time behind bars, dare I say it, on a chain gang.
       Instead, they get off with fines that they can pay out of petty cash. That’s only after some sassy regulator jumps out of their pockets to investigate the most egregious abuses.
       The painful truth is that we are already the captives of the big-money people. We are powerless against the clever ways they manage to make huge profits by establishing an unfair relationship with us millions of customers. We have no choice but to accept their onerous procedures and confusing terms of agreements simply to spend and borrow. There is also nothing we can do as they sprinkle some of their money on the politicians in the form of campaign donations. Here’s another loaded word: Those are bribes, although they’re legal ones. And if they can’t find a pliant politician, they drive the troublemakers out of the game by paying for someone else.
       Talking about such things, according to Romney, promotes “division and attack and hatred.” When Biden was asked about all the uproar, he doubled down: “I’ve got a message for them. If you want to know what’s outrageous, it’s their policies and the effect of their policies on middle-class Americans. That’s what’s outrageous.” So as the dust settles momentarily, we can ponder whether it’s the words or the unfairness of the system that is creating such resentment. That, y’all, is what this election is about.
      
       © 2012 Bob Franken
       Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
      

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