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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Politics is a rough game, and it is the rare candidate for public office who could not benefit from a little smacking around.

Still, there are unwritten rules even for politics. And one rule says that you don’t stand behind a squealing microphone and suggest your opponent should be shot.

Kinda bad taste, ya know?

Coming home with a bruise or two, well, that’s part of the monkeyshines and the tomfooleries of the business.

But coming home with a .38-caliber hollow point in your cranium, well, that’s going a little far.

Donald Trump, whom comedian Jon Stewart describes as a “man-baby,” likes to talk tough and play the rugged two-fisted brawler because he doesn’t look tough. Trump’s swagger is a ludicrously phony swagger. He looks like an overgrown preppy, but he likes to talk like John Wayne in a cowboy epic.

This often makes Trump get in over his head. For example, a few days ago, Trump tweeted: “Crooked Hillary wants to get rid of all guns and yet she is surrounded by bodyguards who are fully armed. No more guns to protect Hillary!”

Hillary Clinton wants to get rid of guns because she is crooked? How does that work? And how does having Secret Service protection make her hypocritical?

As a former first lady, Clinton gets Secret Service protection regardless of her views on gun control.

And in fact, Trump demanded and got the same Secret Service protection in November. Was that “crooked”? Was that hypocritical?

Our public servants deserve to be protected because there are people out there in the general public who are even loonier than they are.

Clinton, for all her faults, is rarely a name-caller. In the Oct. 12, 2015, edition of The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch wrote about Libya and how on Oct. 20, 2011, Libyan rebels found Moammar Gadhafi hiding in a desert culvert.

They pulled him out and killed him, leading President Barack Obama to call a Rose Garden news conference in which he announced that the United States had “achieved our objectives.”

“Hillary Clinton, who was then Secretary of State, put it more archly,” Gourevitch wrote, “telling a reporter, ‘We came, we saw, he died.'”

I rank this high in the nifty quote department. It has everything — brevity, wit, verve and what Gourevitch termed as archness, defined by Webster’s New World College Dictionary as “the quality of being … saucily mischievous.”

It has what the 2016 presidential campaign lacks so far — a note of sauciness when a man is killed. True, we iced Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and hanged Saddam Hussein in December 2006. But I don’t recall any archness accompanying those events.

This left our nation with only one person to whom we could turn our lonely eyes. That’s right: Jeb Bush.

Bush got deep into the sociology of archness last Saturday at a conference in Amsterdam. And he proved to be exactly what Trump said he was not; he was not “Low-Energy Jeb” at all.

In fact, he displayed considerable energy at the three-hour conference by sarcastically praising Trump for being “phenomenally good” at manipulating the media.

Bush said of Trump: “He can literally wake up — I have this vision of him in, you know, silk pajamas, with his little slippers on with a ‘T’ on his emblem. He wakes up and he sends out a tweet ripping, you know, someone a new one.

“He’s the first guy that’s ever been allowed to call in to everything but ‘Meet the Press.’ I think they even relented. So he has been a master at how you get into the media, the new media, the diverse media that exists today in a way that had never been done before.”

How this played to a foreign audience, I do not know. I suppose an English translation was provided. But in this case, an English translation was needed even for the native English speakers in the audience.

CNN reported: “Although Bush was not aggressively critical of Trump, as he had been during his campaign, he showed no signs that he was warming up to the presumptive Republican nominee, like some other establishment Republicans have started doing. Still, Bush said, he doesn’t blame voters who are supporting Trump.”

“What I fear is that people, kind of looking down their nose, will say the people that are supporting Donald Trump are a bunch of idiots,” Bush said. “They’re not. They’re legitimately scared. They’re fearful.”

He continued: “If we were warmhearted as a people, my guess is our political system would look dramatically different. And politicians that would prey on people’s angst and their fears would not gain the kind of support that appears that, at least temporarily, that they’re gaining in the United States today.”

Translation over here, please? I’m guessing that this is an attack on Trump for appealing to the “angst” and “fears” of the American voters but that Bush is also claiming such an appeal will not work this time.

Or something.

CNN reported: “Asked if the message he gave was similar to his stump speech as a candidate, Bush said it was a version of it. ‘Now, I’m not living proof that it’s successful,’ he joked.”

Don’t worry about it, Jeb. Leaving us with the indelible image of Donald Trump waking up in silk pajamas and “T” slippers makes your entire campaign worth it.

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

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Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst 

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