Bob Franken: Election season is just getting started

Mornings are somewhat brighter, but it’s still a day of mourning. The switch from daylight saving to standard time is an admission that we can’t escape the predictable gloom of winter, with its icy weather. It might become less predictable once global warming fully wreaks its destruction — you know, the disaster that President Donald Trump and the corporate energy interests expediently choose to deny. On the other hand, the political season is nonstop, and the climate in that world inexorably deteriorates too. While we’ve wrapped up the midterms and the creators of those incessant TV ads and robo calls, along with the social media trolls, all will go into hibernation, do not think for a moment that the campaign is behind us. On Nov. 7, we seamlessly move from the midterms to the presidential race. Actually, there’s nothing seamless about the unseemly Donald Trump, who presumably will be up for a second four years. That “presumably” is based on the hypothesis that Trump will be around for seconds, that the Robert Mueller probe or any of the other investigations and lawsuits that swirl around him will not have revealed something so egregious that even he can’t survive in office. Or that he will not issue an executive fiat doing away with the elections.

Assuming neither of those happens, just as our clocks were set an hour behind, we also can confidently look ahead to the near future. Don’t be surprised if rhetoric about that caravan of Central Americans — the thousands of “dangerous” invaders who were on their way to overrun the United States, to trample over our borders — quickly evaporates. They were a handy foil to fool the bigots in his base, but they aren’t needed anymore. His followers’ fears won’t need to be exploited again until the runup to Nov. 3, 2020, which is when the polls reopen. Presto-change-O, the “caravan” will miraculously disappear.

No more will we hear about the commander in chief ordering active-duty military forces to confront those migrant trespassers; no more will he bluster with implications that American forces will use their weapons to defend against any interloper throwing a rock. He’s already tippy-toed back from that deadly demagoguery, perhaps after being warned by his advisers that he would be culpable for war crimes. Gone will be any talk about setting up massive tent cities to house any of those dangerous aliens waiting to press their pleas for asylum. And waiting and waiting. All of that will vanish, filed away until 2020.

That is not to say that things will ease up with the Trumpster. Listen for what Ross Perot (look him up, kiddies) called the “giant sucking sound” of prominent members of the administration hightailing it. Some will be pushed out — like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and maybe Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That probably would happen on a Saturday night (again, young’uns, check out “Saturday Night Massacre” on your search engine). Others will fly the coop. Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis could bolt from the administration kennel. We shouldn’t be surprised if chief of staff John Kelly marches out at the first opportunity. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen could be nudged out the door, if for no other reason than she was brought in by Kelly.

Then we have the ones who are under ominous legal clouds, the likes of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He soon may be former Interior Secretary Zinke.

The Democrats will scramble to find a candidate to rally around, and do it before they rip each other to shreds in their usual way.

For both parties, the various political functionaries will be hard at work plotting their strategies. For Republicans, that will include operatives foreign and domestic. So do not for a minute believe there’s a break in the action. Like switching to standard time, look for the politicians to plunge our country further backward into darkness.

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