Dinosaurs and cheap shots

  • By Bob Franken
  • Monday, February 5, 2018 11:42am
  • Opinion

At first glance, this should be a huuuuuuge story: Prehistoric animal tracks, a lot of them, were discovered near Washington. On further reflection, though, it’s not all that remarkable. In the 110 million years since they roamed the D.C. suburbs, the dinosaurs have moved just a few miles to the District of Columbia, where they trod every inch of the nation’s capital.

Yes, that’s a cheap shot, inspired by the State of the Union spectacle, where our country’s leaders try to hold onto glorious ancient traditions that never really were. President Donald Trump managed to not embarrass himself and the country. He went passive-aggressive as opposed to his usual nasty-aggressive. He did manage to sneak in several cheap shots himself, camouflaged by soaring platitudes about unity and national spirit. He referred to the so-called Dreamers — the 700,000 or so people who were raised in the U.S. after they had been brought here as children by their illegal immigrant parents. There is a struggle to rescue them from deportation threatened by a Trump-created March deadline. Even he insists he’s sympathetic to their plight, but his contribution to the negotiations is an uncompromising bargaining position. In his speech, he took the “Dreamers” and rubbed their noses in his “America First” demagoguery: “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.” Cheap shot alert!

The problem is that the Democrats have no shots. Other than sitting there during the speech stone-faced, or boycotting it altogether, the opposition party doesn’t provide any opposition. Leaders constantly get rolled on the Dreamer issue, even though the polls show strong support for the endangered group. Their first pass at ultimatums resulted in a brief government shutdown, where they quickly got shot down. Actually, they wounded themselves by caving almost immediately. Now another shutdown is looming, and they’re no closer to standing up against the GOP bluster.

As for President Trump, he took full advantage of the expectations game for the State of the Union. All he had to do is stick to the teleprompter and not look like a rabid animal, and he’d be declared a success. He managed to do that.

Of course, his address glossed over the extreme turbulence that his administration produces. His speech was sanitized, with no mention about his cruel rhetoric or obnoxious tweets, certainly no mention of Stormy Daniels and the other women who’ve accused him of sexual impropriety. In fact, first lady Melania Trump was there, ending her boycott of him, or whatever it was. Yes, that’s another cheap shot. Stormy, by the way, squeezed out every moment of her 15 minutes of fame by appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” later that night, and cleverly refused to take ownership of another statement of denial she purportedly issued. It refuted her very own claims that she and Donald Trump had ever gotten it on, but she coyly left a lot of doubt. That means she can continue to demand top dollar as she remains on her stripper tour.

Also stripped from the Trump appearance was any mention of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump and his cohorts illegally colluded with the Putin government in stealing the election. Not once in the speech did he utter the phrase “no collusion,” which is as much a part of his rhetoric as “fake news.” Obviously, we don’t know how the Mueller probe will turn out. Republicans are reduced to putting out phony memos filled with cherry-picked classified material in a desperate attempt to shift blame for whatever Mueller discovers. Maybe, just maybe, President Trump will deliver his address next year before the Duma in Moscow. I freely admit that’s another cheap shot. That is, unless the Democrat dreamers succeed in winning control of Congress and make Donald Trump’s presidency a part of history.

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

More in Opinion

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska House makes the right decision on constitutionally guaranteed PFD

The proposed amendment would have elevated the PFD to a higher status than any other need in the state

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, a Soldotna Republican who co-chairs the House Education Committee, speaks during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Creating a road map to our shared future

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

An array of solar panels stand in the sunlight at Whistle Hill in Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, April 7, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Renewable Energy Fund: Key to Alaska’s clean economy transition

AEA will continue to strive to deliver affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy to provide a brighter future for all Alaskans.

Mount Redoubt can be seen acoss Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: An open letter to the HEA board of directors

Renewable energy is a viable option for Alaska

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks in opposition to an executive order that would abolish the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives during a joint legislative session on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Making progress, passing bills

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Priya Helweg is the deputy regional director and executive officer for the Office of the Regional Director (ORD), Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, Region 10. (Image via hhs.gov)
Opinion: Taking action on the maternal health crisis

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries

Heidi Hedberg. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Health)
Opinion: Alaska’s public assistance division is on course to serve Alaskans in need more efficiently than ever

We are now able to provide in-person service at our offices in Bethel, Juneau, Kodiak, Kenai, Homer and Wasilla

Sara Hondel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Alaskan advocate shines light on Alzheimer’s crisis

In the heart of the nation’s capital next week, volunteers will champion the urgent need for legislative action to support those affected by Alzheimer’s

Most Read