Op-ed: Sad advice from the poet

  • By Bob Franken
  • Monday, January 29, 2018 11:32am
  • Opinion

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

We can thank Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and biographer Carl Sandburg for that tidbit of wisdom. It’s standard operating procedure for trial lawyers and certainly for politicians, both of whom could be best described as “anti-poets.” It’s clearly a way of life for the most obscene practitioner of these dark arts. I refer, of course, to the table-pounder in chief Donald Trump, who has gone quite far with it. His accomplishments include winning the presidency and allegedly having sex with Stormy Daniels. (If you don’t know who Stormy Daniels is, check her out on your favorite search engine; you’ll be amazed. Disgusted and amazed.)

But I digress. Notice that I said “allegedly.” There is an even more jarring “allegedly,” this one being the alleged crime that Trump himself may have committed.

Special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be vigorously exploring whether the president obstructed justice as Mueller ratchets up his investigation into whether Trump or figures in Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government in the alleged (there’s that word again) theft of the U.S. election. He and his people have interrogated Attorney General Jeff Sessions and questioned James Comey, who was FBI director until President Trump fired him. Most ominously, Mueller now is negotiating with the White House to set parameters for questioning POTUS himself. It’s fair to point out that obstruction of justice is extremely hard to pin down. What might not be so elusive is a charge of money laundering by Trump and his circle of family and associates. That brings us back to that Carl Sandburg quote.

The Donald Trump variation would be something like: “When the facts are against you, scream ‘fake news.’ If the law is against you, discredit the investigators. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the social media (or in his case, the anti-social media) and tweet like hell.”

He and his protectors are trying to construct a phantom case against those who have probed into his every nook and cranny, arguing that the investigators are so biased against him that they cannot possibly do so credibly. He constantly makes accusations against Hillary Clinton and the Clintons in general, and he insists that this whole charge of Russian collusion is just sour grapes, an alibi for Democrats because Hillary forfeited the election to him (note that I didn’t say “allegedly forfeited.”)

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to act like puppies who roll over on their backs the moment Trump and his pack of Republicans growl or even lift up their legs to mark their territory. Their territory includes all of Washington, and the GOP made that abundantly clear with the confrontation that resulted in the brief government shutdown. It was brief because the Democrats folded the moment there was pushback. Their slogan might be “When the going gets tough, wimp out.”

So now we have this brief respite, a couple of weeks, before another shutdown looms. Between now and then, the drama kings and queens on Capitol Hill will try to unravel the tangled immigration knot, with 700,000 “Dreamers” uncertain whether they will be deported.

Once the Trump administration had pulled the chair back for Democrats, he and the top echelon on his administration headed to Davos to join all the other elite bad guys of the world for fun and frolic and pretending to protect the interests of all the little guys back home who had supported candidate Trump and still do.

Meanwhile, the country is going down the tubes. Quoting Sandburg again, “In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning.” In these times, an optimist is someone who’s detached from reality.

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

More in Opinion

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: A mom’s and pediatrician’s perspective on COVID-19 vaccines for children

I want to see children and their parents who have yet to get vaccinated roll up their sleeves.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.