Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Bob Franken
Syndicated Columnist 

The Trump Whack-a-Mole


April 18, 2019

President Donald Trump obviously loves playing whack-a-mole. You know, like the amusement-park game where once a thingy is knocked back into a hole, another one pops up somewhere nearby. Trump is a political whack-a-mole wizard. Just as his carnival roadies tamp down one of his outrageous controversies, another one explodes. Did he go too far, though, with his guacamole whack-a-mole?

To review the past few moves in his never-be-bored game: Just as Donald Trump was taking a totally premature victory lap after special counsel Robert Mueller, for reasons yet unknown, decided he didn't have enough on Trump to prosecute him, he tripped himself up by firing off another, uh, donnybrook. This time it was the health care issue that his fellow Republicans have been avoiding like the plague since they took a battering in the midterms for their constant efforts to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But President Plague was not to be avoided.

Here was Captain Trump, venturing still again where no one else in his party wanted him to go. He instructed his Justice Department to support a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that would gut the Affordable Care Act. He kept that one alive for a few days, until his horrified advisers and equally horrified supporters in Congress convinced him they'd be badly burned in the next election. More importantly to him, he'd be badly burned.

All that happened about the same time he moonwalked away from his budget document. It created another uproar over its cuts to Special Olympics funding. But also, about the same time, he created more bedlam with his sudden declaration that he would block the entire border with Mexico unless someone, somehow, stopped the increasing migration of desperate men, women and children who are fleeing the dangers and debilitating economic hardship of their homelands, mainly in Central America.

No one is questioning the growing problem along the border. Everyone was questioning Trump's threats to shut it down -- particularly those in the U.S. with business interests that rely on unfettered commerce with Mexico. Hardest hit would be the massive import of food that is shuttled daily north of the border.

This season's avocados that normally cross into the U.S. have become symbols of the economic debacle that would occur if he really did follow through.

Trump backed down. He usually backs down, after creating worldwide fainting spells. He's now saying he is only warning Mexico to do something within a year, whatever it might be. Meanwhile, his attention meanders to parts unknown.

This is Trump's typical behavior; after leaders, foreign or domestic, who didn't just fall off the avocado truck refuse his demands, he rants for a while. Then he has rant control forced on him and down goes that squabble while another rears its ugly head. The constant danger is that he also pushes himself over his bluff and does actual harm to our country. The recent government shutdown is one example. He adamantly insisted that he get millions of dollars more than the Democrats were willing to give for his border wall. The Democrats were just as adamant, so he meekly surrendered.

So now it's back to wreaking new havoc. It's a dangerous game, because he always risks stepping in it -- in this case, stepping in a crock of guac.

(BOB FRANKEN is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)

(c) 2019 Bob Franken


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