Op-ed: The tawdry quandary

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, May 7, 2016 12:41pm
  • Opinion

You gotta hand it to House Speaker Paul Ryan. He has successfully staked his claim to the moral high ground — at least when it comes to his image crafting. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when he was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether he’d now endorse his party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, that he and his staff had prepared a ready answer: “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now.” Translation: What’s in this for me?

Let’s be honest: A lot of people in politics are not honest. Many are, and I treasure the ones who are, value those who are friends. Far too many, though, are not. Their scruples match those in the business world, exclusively guided by the “whatever sells” mindset, with no regard to product quality, public health or treatment of employees. If it fattens profits, it’s acceptable, their thinking goes; whatever undermines the bottom line must be resisted.

In politics, it’s “whatever keeps me/us in power.” Remember that as we ponder the “ethical dilemma” confronting Republicans who believe that Donald Trump as president would be a disaster for the country and certainly the party. Some are staying defiant, saying there’s no way he’s their guy, but for most others there is no dilemma; they’re falling in line, their feelings of horror about Trump a dim memory, obliterated by their canny instinct for self-interest.

They are frantically calculating what leaves them in the best position to maintain their power and prosperity. Can they get ahead or at least survive better by being good soldiers, or do they benefit in the long run by repudiating Trump so that after a Republican debacle on Election Day, they are able to loudly shout, “I told you so!”

Then you have the Paul Ryans of this world who are playing for time to squeeze out whatever advantage they can. Others who face tough election prospects of their own are taking the mealy-mouthed stand that they “support but won’t endorse” the new GOP leader.

And then there are those like Ted Cruz, who wouldn’t seem to have any choice. Cruz really embarrassed himself in Indiana and got so badly hammered that he had to shut down his campaign. That was after he got goaded into ranting that Donald Trump was a “pathological liar” and “philanderer.” For now, one would think he can only pout and plot while he just returns to his friends in the Senate. Oh, wait …

John Kasich also gave up the ghost and ended his smiley-face run with a sad look. He finally realized that “Don’t Worry Be Happy” won’t cut it with this year’s angry voters.

Trump has constantly proved everyone wrong, at every turn. It’s a mistake to underestimate the chance this country won’t choose him to be the next president of the United States. His opponent presumably will be Hillary Clinton, who is not exactly the most adept candidate. Even in the world of deceptive politics, she’s managed to look untrustworthy. Additionally, she’s been tarred by a perception that she’s in the same boat with the people who so many feel are the pirates sailing our “rigged” economic ship. Bernie Sanders has given her fits over that, but imagine what Trump will say. He has made insults his main weapons of crass destruction. Hillary and her advisers are already planning how they’ll deal with the barrage, and they’ve already starting unleashing one of their own.

Both candidates have remarkably high “unfavorable ratings,” so their choice of a running mate will be critical. Just ask Cruz, who added to the weirdness with Carly Fiorina. As usual, the mentionables in both parties are pretending they’re aloof, not letting people see that they’re foaming at the mouth. That doesn’t include Newt Gingrich, who is maneuvering in his typical unsubtle way. He’s a great match for Trump. Both are demagogues who shoot from the lips. Neither is the slightest bit concerned over right and wrong. Like most politicians.

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

More in Opinion

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

teaser
Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.