“Breaking news,” said the local anchorman (who looked a lot like Marco Rubio). “Donald Trump has promised to avoid profanity.” It’s a shame really, because his use of the p-word, the s-word and all the other vulgarities has been one of his most endearing qualities, which isn’t saying a whole h-word-uva lot.
Apparently, with more Southern primaries coming up — a region where it’s OK to cheat, lie, backstab and be a racist as long as you’re polite about it — Trump has decided to swear off swearing, although with his track record on good manners, or lack thereof, that’s probably total b-word s-word, and I don’t mean Bernie Sanders.
Given his erratic impulse control, it might be interesting to do an MRI to see if his brain even has a frontal cortex. It doesn’t seem to matter, according to his horrified critics, because no matter how brainless his rhetoric, he’s riding high, fresh off a win in South Carolina. To the establishment types in the Republican Party, it doesn’t matter whether The Donald cusses or not; in their calculating minds, his very existence is a huge curse.
He’s riding roughshod over them and their more traditional candidates. The most traditional of them all, Jeb Bush, has folded his tent. His exclamation point has been replaced by a simple period at the end of his sentence. Even his huge silver spoon couldn’t dig him out of his hole. Not that the fam didn’t try. Former President George W. wasn’t able to accomplish his mission of rescuing brother Jeb. Not even Mom could save him. It probably didn’t help that she had said early on that “We’ve had enough Bushes.” That probably won’t go down as a triumph in impulse control either.
The fat rats already were abandoning Jeb’s sinking dynasty. He had squandered millions upon millions of the big bucks they contributed to buy the government when he looked like he might have a chance of heading it. Now that he’s blown it, they’re deciding whom to purchase next. Will it be Ted Cruz? Probably not. Even in a political game that encourages lying, cheating and stealing, Cruz looks unduly smarmy. In addition, he couldn’t even dominate the religious-fanatic voters in South Carolina, a state that’s crawling with them. Right now, the party leaders seem to be gravitating to Marco Rubio, who is toe-to-toe with Cruz, and is ever so slightly less of a right-wing extremist. After that, it’s slim pickings. John Kasich’s bright optimism isn’t selling in a year of dark despair, and Ben Carson has convincingly shown that brain surgery isn’t campaigning.
Over on the Democratic side, the party-establishment types and their moneyed enablers are breathing a sigh of relief. Nevada seemed to show that their bets on Hillary Clinton stand a better chance of paying off. Bernie Sanders’ attempt to beat the odds fell short. She managed to pull out an important win in the state’s caucus. Maybe it was because of support from Hookers for Hillary, a group of Nevada working girls. I mean real ones, not her political consultants. So her struggling campaign has been rejuvenated. The Bern has been cooled a bit. Sanders is the one who again has the uphill battle, at least until some new Clinton credibility issue levels the playing field. If that doesn’t happen, she will attempt to continue her careful, methodical march to the nomination. How boring. It might be refreshing to hear her drop the f-bomb in public.
At the moment, the real drama is playing on stage right. One of the most frequently asked questions these days is whether it’s at all possible that Donald Trump can not only win the Republican nomination but also ride the wave of irrational anger and become the next president. To keep the church ladies happy, let’s just answer it this way: emphatically yes. That frightening prospect might be the ultimate obscenity.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.