11 February 2017
Last Saturday I went to the start of the anti-Trump march in West Palm Beach, Florida, in front of the aptly named Trump Plaza. You can’t escape the man down here. This weekend he will be back to play golf with the Japanese Prime Minister and, no doubt, they will amuse themselves talking about that lunatic who runs North Korea. For the record the demo was good humoured and the placards reading “ Free Melania” and “Tuck Frump” brought a smile to my face as did an email from a friend near Boston which signed off “ We shall overcomb”.
It really is hard not to be shocked by what is emanating from the Trump White House but what I find particularly disturbing is its relationship with the truth. The most absurd example this week being the invention by Kellyanne Conway, spokesperson and counsellor to the President, of a massacre that never took place. This was designed to support the immigration ban. Naturally it unleashed a tsunami of satire from talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert, and with Alec Baldwin due to host Saturday Night Live this week, I shall be holding on to my hat.
With all the crazy stuff going on, it really is very difficult to know where this is all heading. I try very hard to take a balanced view. The new Secretary of Defence, a former General called “Mad Dog” Mattis, actually seems to be one of the saner dogs in the White House kennel, and even the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, despite having headed up ExxonMobil, appears to understand NATO and seems prepared to stand up to Putin. However, what is rattling everybody’s nerves is the behaviour of the Tweeter in Chief. Will he listen to the saner voices or be manipulated by his mercurial strategist Steve Bannon, now frequently portrayed as Darth Vader. If only all of this was happening in a galaxy far far away, we could all sleep easier in our beds.
Ireland is very vulnerable to these rapidly changing international circumstances and one must ask is the government on top of it ? At least Fianna Fail has given its new star recruit, Stephen Donnelly, responsibility for Brexit whilst we are left with the knowledge that the Taoiseach is handling it. Does that inspire confidence ? Not exactly.
Now if you think all of this is enough, think again. I predict that the debt crisis in Italy and Greece will soon become unmanageable. If then Marine Le Pen should somehow win the French Presidency, Brexit will look like a walk in the park The Eurozone would fall apart. 2017 is starting to look like a rough ride.