For a town where friendship is really a matter of expedience, where Best Friends Forever, or “BFF” in kiddie talk, has become “BFT,” Best Friends Temporarily, we sure have conjured up many sound bites about friendship. “You want a friend in Washington?” said Harry Truman, “Get a dog.” Unless, of course, Fido can get tastier kibbles elsewhere.
How about this one? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That one captures the transactional nature of geopolitical friendship. Collaborators in one battle can shift to adversaries in an instant. The Middle East is riddled with such shifting sands. We can always turn on yesterday’s loyal ally -- and we do. The United States, under President Donald Trump, has, at Turkey’s behest, just stuck the knife in the back of the Kurds, who were our fiercest compatriots in the battle against ISIS. Just the latest sad example.
But there is still more insight about friendship and its opposite. One of my personal favorites comes from Pogo, the brilliant cartoon character drawn by Walt Kelly. Pogo dropped so many political pearls of wisdom on us; among them, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
That could be the motto of the Democratic Party these days, which seems to be doing everything it can to forfeit the next presidential election to Donald Trump. And there will be an election between Trump and some Democrat. The Trumpster is going to beat the rap on his impending impeachment (to put it in language he would understand) because the Dems seem to be in a hurry to get past their impeachment dilemma.
Impeachment is roughly analogous to a grand jury indictment. The point is to go for a conviction, removal from office. That, in this case -- as we’ve been told ad nauseum -- is the task of the Senate, which assumes the role of a trial court with no appeal. It’s not precisely the same though, because the 100 members of the Senate serve as questioners and ultimately jury members. They will vote on whether to kick Trump out of office, which would seem to be the point of this exercise.
Let’s dash the hopes of the most virulent Trump enemy: That ain’t happening. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate. They cower in fear before Donald Trump. There is no way in the world that they’d join a two-thirds Senate supermajority to do the deed. So Donald Trump will declare victory and move on, while the Democrats will try to cut their losses.
Meanwhile, in their intramural jousting to choose a Trump opponent, they are each revealing their own faults. Take Joe Biden. “Uncle Joe” has made stumbling an art form.
As much as anything else, he’s battling a generational issue. He’s 78. The age bigots whisper that he’s addled, helped along by his frequent trips over his own words or temperament. When an Iowa voter confronted him recently, he suddenly flared up: “Let’s do pushups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test.”
Did I mention his antagonist was 83 years old?
All of this demonstrates that when it comes to the fight against Donald Trump, Democrats are their own worst enemies. In that way, they are Trump’s best friends.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.