Bob Franken: Blunderbuss pulpit

OK, America, here is the word of the month: “blunderbuss.”

No, it is not a mass-transit vehicle whose driver has taken the wrong route. You’d think most everyone in this Second Amendment-obsessed nation would know that a blunderbuss is a gun, an old-timey one.

It long preceded the automatic weapons that wreak the kind of mindless mass destruction that has become part of our national routine. It had a flared barrel. Think of it as a mini bell-bottomed single-round shotgun. It was very inaccurate, but in its day, it caused a lot of damage. Could that describe a certain blundering and blustery chief executive?

Actually, that’s not the only word of the month. For President Blunderbluster and his obsequious gang that couldn’t shoot straight, their word is “crisis,” as in “national security crisis” or “humanitarian crisis” or even “crisis of the soul,” for crisis’ sake.

Oh, and let’s not forget the phony crisis … make that “fake crisis,” as Donald Blunderbluster tries to weasel out of the fine mess he’s created. All his ready-aim-fire approach has accomplished is a partial government shutdown over his insistence that the Democrats agree to spend $5.7 billion for a border wall. He needs to keep the blood boiling in his xenophobic base, but his scattershot attempts at intimidation certainly have not strong-armed the Democrats one bit. In fact, he’s weak-armed them, and they remain united and adamant that they will not fold this time. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told him again that there would be no wall money, he flounced out of the room, saying “bye-bye.”

Obviously Blunderbluster’s wall is closing in on him politically. He must dig out of the dung pile into which he willingly dived. The Democrats seem intent on rubbing his nose in it. Now someone in his bunker has come up with a strategy to save his nose and the rest of his face. “How about this, President Trump (his other name): What if you declare a national emergency and divert Pentagon funds to pay for the wall?

Never mind that the situation at the border with Mexico doesn’t qualify as one, or that the courts probably will put a stop to it. Before they do, you can reach agreement without congressional wall funding, and climb out of the smelly pit you dug. Presto change-o, the shutdown will be over, and the opposition will have decided they had extracted a last pound of flesh from you. Then you could stop pretending you give a hoot about the 800,000 government workers who hadn’t been paid.”

It is a straw, but a desperate Blunderbluster is willing to grasp it. He already put what was left of the squandered prestige of the presidency on display with an Oval Office address. It was a real tough choice for the broadcast networks. They had to decide whether to cut away from their fare of situation comedies and go with the one in the White House. They opted to carry the “POTUS Show,” simulcasting with the cable news networks.

That was probably a smart decision, and a few more people learned a thing or two. The main thing is that this president thinks the First Amendment specifies a right to “peaceably dissemble.” Actually, it does allow his lies, as long as they don’t slop over into defamation.

So far, even though he repeatedly slanders Mexicans, Muslims, women and people of color, he gets away with it. Still, that night, fact-checkers swarmed all over him.

In fact, there really are crises in this country; a gun crisis, for instance, with more than 300 million privately owned modern weapons of mass destruction in the U.S.

No matter how many massacres there are, or how frequent, political leaders are unable or unwilling to do anything about it, and that certainly includes President Blunderbluster.


• By BOB FRANKEN


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