Op-ed: Amateurs and wackos

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, May 9, 2015 7:32pm
  • Opinion

“Used to be I couldn’t spell ‘politician.’ Now I are one.” Yes, it’s come to that. It seems that now candidates are proudly declaring as they run for the most powerful political office in the world that they don’t know the first thing about politics. In fact, neurosurgeon-turned-presidential-candidate Ben Carson made no brains about it: “I’m not a politician,” he insisted. “I don’t want to be a politician. Because politicians do what is politically expedient — I want to do what’s right.”

Easier said than done, Ben. There are an awful lot of experienced people running the system who have an entirely different idea of what “right” is, to say nothing of the powerful forces who will fight like crazy to maintain their abilities to do wrong. It’s the biggest flaw in the thinking of the far-right people who despise government. They want to elect people who are totally naive and get pushed off the turnip truck right away.

Maybe they should listen to their own rhetoric. Aren’t they the ones who have complained from Day One that Barack Obama was a neophyte, in way over his head? In fact, they have reason to believe they were spot-on. It’s clear that Obama was taken aback and brutalized by those Republicans who have spent decades sharpening their skills in the dark game of politics.

But now the tea-party types are changing their tune … Ben Carson is just what the, uh, doctor ordered. That’s because he prowls the same far-right turf that they do.

Let’s face it, though, he’s nowhere near as “out there” as some of the wacko birds (to borrow a phrase) who make up a part of the Texas population. Actually, they apparently make up a huge part, big enough to elect leaders who are nestled in the vast fringes with them.

What with all the disclosures of surveillance by law enforcement and our spies who are constantly finding new ways to invade our privacy, there are plenty of good reasons to be superparanoid. However, routine military exercises by U.S. Armed forces are not one of them. Unless, of course, you’re among the hard-core conspiracy theorists who set up barricades in their minds and in the great state of Texas. If I wasn’t so politically correct, I would call them looney tunes.

Which brings us to Operation Jade Helm. Jade Helm is a combined Navy Seal/Army/Green Beret exercise planned for the desert countryside of the U.S. Southwest. It’s being staged there because the terrain and conditions resemble the Mideast. Makes sense, right? Not for those who, if I wasn’t so politically correct, I would describe as nuttier than a fruitcake. They believe it’s an invasion by Barack Obama, their Satan, who is hell-bent on taking away their rights and their guns. They’re having a hissy fit, although in that part of the country, it’s appropriate to quote Bart Simpson and say they’re having a cow.

OK. We know there are people out there who, if I wasn’t so politically correct, I would call mental cases. But this is the really crazy part: The state’s governor, Greg Abbott, has ordered the Texas National Guard to monitor the special-forces maneuvers to make sure they aren’t a martial-law pretext.

Apparently there are so many maniacs (forget PC) out on the Lone Star prairie that Gov. Abbott believes he needs to pander to them. He’s joined, by the way, by Sen. Ted Cruz, who thinks this holds some appeal nationwide. If he’s correct, we have become a national asylum.

And if they and their legions of freedom defenders are correct, we don’t need to worry about rank amateur politics. Once Mr. Obama takes over, we certainly will not be having anymore elections. Remind me again why that’s a bad thing.

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

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