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by Bob Franken

Do you recall Cliff Clavin, the know-it-all postman character in the very popular TV show "Cheers"? (For those too young to remember, it was on for about a decade in the '80s and '90s. But I guess anyone too young to know that probably wouldn't be reading this column.) Cliff Clavin was a fount of useless information. Anytime he'd say, "It's a little-known fact," the others would run out of the room.

My daughter has always called me Cliff Clavin. I have not the slightest idea why.

It also is a little-known fact that the word "pundit" comes from the Hindi "pandit," which, in turn, was derived from the Sanskrit "pandita," which translates into "a learned man or scholar." In modern times, it has come to mean "someone who pretends to know what he's talking about." I'm one of those.

We pundits get away with a lot. Even those who read our stuff don't remember it. So we boldly predict the future without fear. If any of us ends up wrong, few will recollect, and we can forget we ever said anything. If, perchance, we are correct about anything at all, believe me, we will insufferably boast about it. Knowing all that, let me courageously take a look into the future.

I don't particularly like to look too far ahead, because with Donald Trump as president, impetuously dealing with some really unstable enemy leaders, I'm among those who worry we won't necessarily even have a far ahead. But assuming we last a few more days, let's look to the 28th of this month, when the federal government must get new funding in order to avoid shutting down.

Yes, people, it's that time again, when the drama kings and queens who are responsible for such things show just how irresponsible they can get. You take the clowns under the Capitol big top and add the wild animal acts at the White House, and you have a real highwire act. You also have a writer who has tortured the circus metaphor. All in all, you have a tortuous process, where you cannot count on our leaders to maintain their balance.

I predict that they will not. Come the 28th, the government will partially shut down, and we'll dust off our stories about national parks being padlocked and some poor schlep being denied service. And let's not forget the reports about those who are deemed "essential," like air traffic controllers and law-enforcement officers, nor those millions of poor bureaucratic souls who are deemed "nonessential," so they stay home and stew, and don't take calls because they're too embarrassed to talk about it.

Of course, our fearless leaders in the legislative and executive branches could actually come up with a last-minute bargain, where Donald Trump agrees to forgo his idiot wall funding and deal with it later, along with hi proposed gargantuan budget cutbacks that don't stand a chance anyway. Democrats have some power here, and assuming they don't fritter it away (as Democrats usually do), they'll negotiate a deal that simply maintains spending at current levels.

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Something will be happening by the 28th. Unless, of course, they delay things a few day for breathing room.

So my insightful prediction, based on my years of experience, is that one of the above scenarios will play out by then. You see the brilliance here. Whichever occurs, you can bet that I'll be jumping up and down, and yelling, "I told you so!"

It's a well-known fact that Trump will tweet his way to his 100th day in office the day after the funding deadline. That definitely will play into the bargaining, even though 100 day is really a contrived milestone. It's there mainly so those of us in media can beat the drums about something. Like we needed anything.

(c) 2017 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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