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Last Week's King Features Column

(Writer's note: The arrangement with my syndicators allows for these columns to appear here one week after their newspaper release)

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, FEB. 8, 2011

CAIRONIC POLITICS

BY BOB FRANKEN

I tried to hold back, but I couldn't, and it's her fault. I had decided to join some of the columnists who had announced they would make February a Sarah Palin-free month. I did so even though I had reservations about being on a collusion course with them, further fueling the anti-trust of media types who present themselves as separate and independent commentators.

Besides, Ms. P. made it easy by slowing her usual gush of mindless inanities. She even had been keeping quiet about the crisis in Egypt.

But she just couldn't contain herself. She had to take a shot at the Obama administration's ginger tiptoeing through the diplomatic and strategic minefields. In a Christian Broadcasting Network interview released Saturday night, she proved as glib as ever, using the old Hillary Clinton for President imagery for her clever sound bite: “This is that 3 a.m. White House phone call, and ... it seems that that call went right to the answering machine.”

So, even though we all needed a break, my boycott is over. (Language police: Is BOYcott the right word when we're talking about a woman? The mind wanders.)

Besides, there were plenty of others filling the void. We already had heard Newt Gingrich spew out his take on the Obama people, which was: “I don't think they have a clue. I think it is very frightening to watch this administration.”


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What in heaven's name does that mean, Mr. Speaker? Since Gingrich was once speaker of the House, that's what we call him -- at least until he reaches higher office, like president, which is what this is all about, of course.

What is he saying? That the president and his minimalist minions are not taking the bold steps he would take, that worrying about making the wrong moves means they “don't have a clue”?

Who does have a clue? Actually, from the Gingrich perspective, it's more about glue, the kind that holds together his base by saying anything he wants as long as it's anti-Obama. After all, he's trying to stay ahead of some fast company, which is why we get his frequent blasts of bombast.

There are some who believe that having Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich -- to say nothing of the Glenn Becks of this world -- speaking out against Barack Obama's handling of Egypt is strong evidence that the administration is doing something right.

Even Dick Cheney refused any scattershot opinion (that's a “Cheney the hunter” metaphor, folks) by refusing to criticize the president when he popped up Saturday at the Ronald Reagan centennial. All he did say is that “It is very hard for some foreign leader to act on U.S. advice in a visible way,” a subtle shot, perhaps, at the visible way the White House has been handling this.

But he's been there. After all, he ran the Bush administration, so he knows one must be careful not to fan the flames when those in power in Washington are trying to keep the flames in a far-off land under control. Gingrich should know better, too. After all, as speaker back then, he was second in the line of presidential succession. But in his zeal to be No. 1, he just can't keep himself or his ambitions in check. This time, his nihilism was manifested in his cheap-shot Nile-isms.

As for Palin, she doesn't know better, but what she does know is how to raise the volume till she's heard. Her scream always rises to the top. She can't be ignored, particularly with so many others there to stoke the fires, and those of us in news biz shouldn't even try.

© 2011 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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