Bob Franken: Digging us in even deeper

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, June 21, 2016 12:15pm
  • Opinion

How low can we go? When it comes to politics, that’s a question that has a new answer nearly every day. Each time we think our campaign seems to hit bottom, somebody starts digging us in deeper. And I don’t want to tell you what they’re shoveling, because, well, you know.

So now we have Sarah Palin posting on Facebook that President Barack Obama is a “special kind of stupid.” Mind you, that’s Sarah Palin saying that. She was in a tizzy because the president has been restating since the Orlando massacre his frustration that we can’t put some limits on the easy availability of guns. Therefore, says Ms. Palin, he deserves “no due respect.” Never mind that he is the nation’s chief executive, twice elected — once when she was on the opposing GOP ticket as John McCain’s running mate.

Of course, McCain also is crossing the line with his rhetoric. Two days after Orlando, McCain told reporters that the president was “directly responsible.” After that hit Twitter, he was being showered with so much criticism that he pulled back a little bit, and said he “misspoke.” What he really meant is that Obama’s policies were responsible for ISIS.

Never mind that it was the Bush invasion of Iraq, which he so avidly supported, that created ISIS. McCain did not misspeak; he’s been in public office for a long time, and he knew exactly what he was saying. It’s just that he’s facing a tough re-election fight back home in Arizona, so he has to pander to his party’s zealots, who are head over heels in love with Donald Trump, the guy who will lead the ticket.

Trump set the tone and caused quite an uproar himself when he insinuated that President Obama was secretly sympathetic to Muslim extremists. He, too, got a lot of flak for that one. But for his supporters, who put Barack Obama at No. 1 on their hate parade, this was what they wanted to hear. John McCain clearly wanted a piece of that.

Meanwhile, there are still a few holdouts in the Republican Party doing what they can to dig their own graves. They’re the ones who are openly plotting some sort of insurrection at the party convention to deny Trump the nomination that he won fairly and squarely by being more hateful than any of the other candidates. They’re realizing that they can’t control The Donald any more than he can control himself. No matter how they try to rationalize that he’ll return to sanity now that he’s the nominee, Trump proves them wrong almost daily. And almost daily they have to answer just how it is they can support somebody whose every utterance seems to horrify them. It’s gotten to the point that when these luminaries are asked, they mostly reply that they don’t want to talk about it. Going through ethical contortions is exhausting.

It would seem to be an ideal setup for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, but Bernie Sanders refuses to go away. He hasn’t conceded the obvious, which is that Hillary is the presumptive nominee. All that’s left for him is to be the spoiler — as in, spoiling things so badly that the Democrats find a way to lose to Donald Trump. Sanders insists he’s in it for his agenda, that he wants commitments from Hillary and the party that they will stand for elements of his progressive agenda. At some point, he’ll probably get them, and maybe a face-saving prime-time speaking slot, even though he knows full well that such commitments mean nothing in their world.

The rest of us can only watch this ridiculous game. Unfortunately, politics and government are not playthings, not little shovels to dig us in ever deeper.


Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including more than 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.