Op-ed: The ‘vacation’ disappearing act

  • Friday, April 6, 2018 12:38pm
  • Opinion

Does anybody know or care where Laura Ingraham is “vacationing”? Ingraham, who has been a mouthpiece for right-wing nastiness for decades, recently had gravitated to a perch at Fox News (where else?) to do the venomous schtick that has brought her fame and fortune. But then she crossed the teeny-bopper.

This is not just any teeny-bopper. This is David Hogg, the extremely telegenic Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior and survivor of the shooting massacre there on Valentine’s Day. He’s a founder of the Never Again MSD movement and a leader of the outpouring of young people who are dragging adults into action on gun control. He speaks for hundreds of thousands of people with a quick wit that Laura Ingraham cannot match. That it was no contest became obvious after those who get crazed every time someone even slightly wants to restrict their killing machines went bonkers about Hogg and a movement he leads that has spread out from Parkland, Florida, to the world.

Unfortunately, the best slime they could spread on him was the fact that his applications had been rejected by a few colleges. Never mind that he had been accepted by a few others; he was obviously, at least in their alleged minds, fair game for attack. Make that foul game. Laura, as she so often does, used her Fox program “The Ingraham Angle” to trash those who aren’t of the ultraconservative persuasion. So, she became a loud voice of the Hogg trolls. What followed was a huge backlash as her troll took a toll on the program’s revenue. Hogg quickly shot back with a call for an advertiser boycott, and he got one. Advertisers bailed on Ingraham faster than you can say “bottom line.”

Talk about hitting her where it hurts. Ingraham wasted no time going into grovel mode, looking for a cagey way to save her … whatever. She tweeted: “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.” Then she headed off to vacation. For the record, her network says it was already scheduled. For the record, David Hogg rejected the apology.

One can only assume that she did not hightail it to the Mar-A-Lago bunker where Donald Trump was spending his time off as usual. There he can relax with the brittle rich folks who are paying guests and interact with the sycophants who are still loyal. It’s a welcome reprieve from an administration that is coming undone, to some extent. Those with even a molecule of experience in government are looking for an escape hatch and those who are embarrassments are shoved aside, only to be replaced by others who are more embarrassing, grossly unqualified or card-carrying fanatics. For President Trump, the most qualified in his mind are those who are the least qualified, as long as they do good TV. That’s his be-all and end-all.

So Robby Jackson — whose claim to fame is that he’s the chief White House doctor who poked and prodded Donald Trump and then did an on-camera briefing on the physical, which impressed Trump — is now his choice to head the severely troubled Veterans Affairs Department. Never mind that while Jackson is highly regarded as an M.D., he has no management resume. And never mind that the VA is the federal government’s second biggest agency after the Pentagon. It has 360,000 employees. It’s largely an unwieldy disaster that has defied the best efforts of several reformers who possess outstanding credentials.

Trump also has created quite the uproar by booting out H.R. McMaster as national security adviser and appointing John Bolton. Bolton is considered to be, how shall we say it, a warmonger.

Soon, he’ll be taking his hard line into foreign affairs, and soon, Laura Ingraham presumably will be taking hers back to Fox News. Don’t expect her to learn any lessons. As for Trump and his gang, the best lesson they can learn would be a smack down on Election Day.

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

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