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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2018

PHANTOM STORMS-REAL STORMS
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Besides what Stormy Daniels says she did with Donald Trump and what Scott Pruitt actually did to the taxpayers, the two have something in common: Both are quickly becoming old news. They’ve had their 15 minutes of fame (in Stormy’s case, it was actually “60 Minutes”), but soon will fade into the “forgotten sleaze” abyss, to be met with “that’s soooo last week” indifference.
That is Daniels’ (as far as I’m concerned, her porn name is her real name) greatest fear and Pruitt’s fondest hope. Whatever the outcome of her legal case, she’s had a career boost. She is a hot item on the stripper circuit again, but the naked truth is that the lucrative pole ride inevitably soon will be over.
Scott Pruitt is hoping to ride out his scandals, waiting for the next buffoonery to distract those of us who get our jollies bouncing from one crisis to the next. Already his boss, the president, is giving him some space, going on weekend Twitter to declare that “Scott is doing a great job.” Donald Trump is betting on his embattled Environmental Protection Agency administrator to deflect the barrage of bad publicity as simply more tackiness from the Trump gang. In Pruitt’s case, as we all know, he was caught flying first class during official travel when economy is the rule, and living in lobbyist-owned accommodations at cut-rate prices. Short of another outrageous disclosure, look for him to stay put so that he can gut the environment another day.


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A big part of the problem is our attention span. We in media dread being stale. We incessantly need fresh controversies to plunder. We already have one available to us this very week, and it’s our next someone: Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook creator who has seen his brainchild grow into an all-powerful international force with a world of inherent flaws, will be forced to face a thrashing at the hands of the Congress -- festering with politicians who are desperately eager to come up with the winning sound bite. Given how Zuckerberg is perceived as someone who is just past puberty, without the gravitas to handle social complexity, look for him to be the House and Senate canines’ fire hydrant. It’ll last two days, during which time journalists will have time for little else. Unless some other traumatic development wrenches the spotlight away from Zuckerberg, that would thrill him to no end.
For now, his comeuppance is over the precious right to privacy, which we’ve all lost. Mark Zuckerberg and others of his ilk may be geniuses in concocting something gigantic, but they’re not all that smart when it comes to understanding or even caring about the dangerous implications of their many-tentacled monsters. In Zuckerberg’s case, at least we’ll be focused on issues that matter.
Pruitt’s pettiness and Stormy’s titillations are merely distractions from the many decisions that threaten our prosperity (what’s left of it) and even our safety. Trump’s petulant trade moves are threatening to pull the floor out of the economy. While the administration and the Chinese engage in a huge game of tariff chicken, the stock market has taken a nosedive.
Meanwhile, this president does everything he can to antagonize anyone he can. His scorn knows no bounds. His nastiness is splattering over all those in this hemisphere, while it also easily spans the oceans to undermine relations in Europe and Asia. Closer to home -- much closer to home, as in the White House -- he goes out of his way to diminish once-proud aides who made the error in judgment of joining him in running the country. Chief of staff John Kelly, who was brought in to establish order in the chaos, is now caught up himself in the snide tide of Trump’s sewage. It’s considered just a matter of time before Gen. Kelly decides that enough is enough.
Of course, there are some menaces to Trump that will not evaporate such as Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which overlapped at the start of the week, with the raid on the offices of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal attorney. the President called the Cohen raid "an attack on our country". That really means he's very scared, perhaps realizing he faces many serious threats. Even Stormy Daniels may be a one night stand that lasts a very long time.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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