FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 23, 2013
WASHINGTON’S DOG AND PHONY SHOW
BY BOB FRANKEN
Did you know that Harry Truman is not the one who said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”? Yes, we can put that right in the “who cares?” file, but whoever uttered those words certainly captured the amount of true personal loyalty one can expect from one’s human buddies in Washington. It also explains why the Obamas probably thought this was an opportune time to get another puppy, to accompany big brother Bo on his White House romping. Barack Obama certainly can use a few friends these days. The latest Gallup poll shows his approval rating at 45.6 percent, the worst this year.
Apologists are explaining that the numbers always go down in August, when everyone’s gone and Washington is a tomb, but it’s also true that his BFFs have been bailing on him for a number of reasons. On the left, they’re complaining that he hasn’t pushed their agenda hard enough when it comes to protecting the budget and their favored social programs from brutal cuts. Some are grousing that he might let the opportunity to pass real immigration reform fritter away and, of course, there are those in the civil-rights community who insist he should be doing more for his fellow black Americans. At the very same time, his enemies constantly protest that he’s doing too much and trying to cram big government down our throats, etc.
Meanwhile critics on both sides of the ideological spectrum are teeing off on him for heavy-handed national-security policies. There’s not only the bipartisan outcry over the Edward Snowden disclosures about big-brother-ish electronic snooping on all Americans, but also hell-raising about the Justice Department running roughshod over press freedoms in a single-minded war on leaks.
Internationally, he’s finding that he’s been unable to get the generals in Egypt to even listen to him or his envoys as the U.S. warns against the murderous brutality following their takeover. It’s a coup, but President Obama can’t even call it one for fear of triggering the cutoff of close to $1.5 billion in aid we provide to Cairo. Not that the military leaders there even seem to care. We need them as much as they need our money. Besides, other so-called allies, like Saudi Arabia, have stepped into the breach and provided billions of dollars of their own. The result is that right now in that vital country, the various sides agree on one point: They all are disgusted with the United States.
Back at home, POTUS called the nation’s financial regulators to the White House to communicate to them that he is not pleased with the slow pace of putting financial reform in place. Actually, it is largely no place whatsoever, as the myriad agencies that are supposed to create the rules for the way the banks do business are stuck in the slime of intense industry lobbying. The idea is supposedly to avoid the abuses by the “too big to fail” institutions that brought us to our knees. So far, the financial behemoths are demonstrating they’re too big to control. If the Obama message was “No more Mr. Nice Guy,” the response was “Who cares?”
Let’s go ahead and use the “L.D.” words. Traditionally, a chief executive isn’t called a “lame duck” until after the midterm elections. But apparently lots of our politicians didn’t get that memo. The Republicans are flagrantly trying to sabotage health-care reform, and when Mr. Obama talks tough on upcoming budget deadlines, he gets the equivalent of a Bronx cheer. The narrative that describes him as a weak leader can become self-fulfilling and discourage his supporters. So while the Obama family is enjoying the unconditional love of a second pup, his human adversaries continue to mark Washington as their territory, daring the president to show that he’s not all bark and no bite.
© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.