FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN
WASHINGTON SWAMP QUICKSAND
You’ve gotta love Washington. Where else could the president of the United States deliver a massively important speech and be praised to the high heavens simply for not embarrassing himself -- and, for once, not further diminishing the nation?
That is exactly what has happened. Donald Trump, who has inspired such intense anger and ridicule with his and his administration’s nasty buffoonery since taking over, managed to get through an address before Congress without straying from the teleprompter script. He stuck to what was basically a bland recitation of his controversial policy goals with few specifics, and there were no Twitter outbursts from him afterward. For that, he has been basking in the accolades: More than one analyst and political operative has called it a “turning point” in his presidency.
What turning point? This is still a White House that is focused on hate and destruction. How else but “hateful” would you describe its nastiness toward immigrants? What word better than “destructive” should be used for the various efforts to roll back environmental protections? That verbiage also could apply to the gutting of consumer regulations aimed at protecting the American people from super-wealthy financial predators whose insatiable greed almost brought down the world economy.
But hey, he gave one sufficient speech, so maybe he’s not the impetuous embarrassment he has appeared to be. Perhaps his overt hostility aimed at the media will subside. The simple fact of the matter is that the press intimidation tactics are not working. The Trumpsters still will continue to deal, for instance, with explosive reports that claim his election campaign colluded with the Russian government.
He and his accomplices can scream “fake news” all they want, but it won’t stifle the real news about questionable contacts and relationships with Vladimir Putin’s agents. The Trump cabal has tried to beat down the disclosures with deceptive tactics and outright bullying. Donald Trump and his associates are squirming nevertheless as a steady drip, drip, drip of evidence emerges in one newspaper after another, on one news network after another, of dealings with an adversary that raise some pretty fundamental questions about how much they might have compromised their nation. There are spreading demands that a special prosecutor be appointed, one who could be trusted to run a truly comprehensive criminal investigation and issue a chips-fall-where-they-may public report. So far, the two Republican chairmen of the congressional Intelligence committees have demonstrated that they are not up to the task, willing to be Trump puppets with no appetite for truth-seeking. Now, thanks to The Washington Post, we learn that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose Justice Department would be in charge of the criminal investigation, at the very least was guilty of misleading Senate questioners during testimony prior to his approval as AG. He repeatedly claimed under oath that he had had no contact with the Russians. It turns out that he did. Now he contends that he only meant that he didn’t have that contact as a part of Trump’s campaign or transition, but only as a member of the Senate Armed Services committee.
Democrats have pounced, with some demanding his resignation. Those Republicans who aren’t cowering during this latest spit-storm are looking for a way to not get splattered. Jeff Sessions is now saying he’ll recuse himself, but that’s not the same as appointing a singularly focused special prosecutor. Among the Republicans who bailed on Sessions was Lindsey Graham, who told CNN: “It is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make that decision about Trump.” At the same time, President Trump has expressed his “total” confidence in Sessions.
In Washington, always beware when someone calls you his “dear friend.” Be on your guard when a president expresses “total” confidence in you. It’s a treacherous place where everyone is proudly insincere, particularly during a feeding frenzy like this is becoming. The Trump administration doesn’t have the credibility to squelch it, even if the president did give one adequate speech.
© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.