The last laugh

bob_franken_cSo now we know what Donald Trump will do for a living when he leaves office, whenever that is. He will be busy: In addition to continuing his television career by doing commercials for products that you can get by calling a 1-800 number, he’ll also be touring as a stand-up comedian.

Obviously he’s got a knack for it. Look no further than the success Trump had when he brought the house down at the United Nations nightclub in New York. Actually, it was the General Assembly, and it was a really tough crowd who couldn’t help but laugh at the Trump routine when he claimed that under his leadership, the country was enjoying unprecedented success. Trump played it like he had been taken aback: “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”
By the next day, he had put together another shtick, as he is prone to do. At his news conference, which could be described as absurd from beginning to end, he insisted: “They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me. We had fun.”

No, Mr. President, they clearly were laughing at you. Sadly, they also were chortling at a United States of America that, for so long, has been regarded by some of them as sanctimonious. For many, the United States is becoming a nonstop slapstick comedy act.

For yucks, look no further than the Senate’s contorted efforts to do its solemn duty to approve a justice to the nation’s highest court. Christine Blasey Ford suddenly popped up with a last-minute block in Brett Kavanaugh’s smooth road to the SCOTUS bench. Blasey Ford’s charge is that, 30-plus years ago when they were privileged prep-schoolers in Bethesda, Md., a Washington suburb, Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

In this #MeToo era, the majority Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were forced to convene a new hearing. The problem for the GOP members is that even now, they are all male. They were so frightened that they’d appear insensitive, they outsourced all their questions to a woman, noted sex-offense prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.

But Christine Blasey Ford was just the opening act. The headliner was Brett Kavanaugh, whose performance could be described only as a hissy fit, the veins in his face prominently showing. “This has destroyed my family and my good name,” he thundered, calling the accusation “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.” Depending on your point of view, he was either enraged or deranged.

He had a great supporting cast as Republican senators ditched the methodical questions from Mitchell for some real method acting. Lindsey Graham probably won the prize with his high-volume monologue calling what had unfolded “the most despicable thing I’ve seen in my time in politics.” Graham suddenly has turned into Donald Trump’s attack dog, as if Donald Trump needed an attack dog. If it continues, maybe the senator from South Carolina should be tested for steroids. And rabies.

The Brett Kavanaugh circus soon will fade into sawdust as we move on to some new can-can. While the whole world laughs at our constant pratfalls, we need to decide if we simply will take it, or get outraged and get rid of these clowns who have taken over.

(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)
© 2018 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.