Donald Trump will shortly arrive in Europe to commemorate the D Day landings in June 1944. As part of his European tour, it is likely that he will meet Theresa May, the rapidly disappearing Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In addition, he will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar somewhere in Clare.
The Houses of the Oireachtas recently invited the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to address them on the occasion of her trip to Europe.
It was awful to hear Trump insult her as “Crazy Nancy” on Thursday. He strongly implied that her mental powers were failing rapidly and that she wasn’t up to her job any more. In a bombastic, delusional riff of self-praise, he actually described himself as “an extremely stable genius”. This repugnant buffoonery seems to know no bounds. Speaker Pelosi appears courteous, capable and sane. Trump, by contrast, exudes thuggish-ness, barbarism and self-idolatry.
Trump has inspired state legislatures in America to enact laws in the hope of overthrowing the US Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs Wade. In Alabama the legislature specifically prohibited rape victims from having an abortion and proposed to criminalise such abortions as Class A felonies with lengthy prison sentences.
One of the legislators who recently passed such laws was subsequently arrested by State police in a drunken state having allegedly beaten his wife because she was too slow in undressing to permit him have his way with her. This typifies the mentality of the reactionary right conjured up by the election of Donald Trump.
Does anybody believe that Trump has the slightest personal interest in reversing Roe v. Wade?
Leo Varadkar has, in effect, no choice but to receive and welcome Donald Trump to Ireland on behalf of the Irish State next month. That is the quid pro quo in terms of international protocol for being received in the White House in Washington on St. Patrick’s Day.
Doubtless there are many unhappy pro-life voters in Ireland who are becoming enthused by Donald Trump notwithstanding his views on women. They can overlook certain things as long as he holds open the possibility of reversing Roe v. Wade in the United States.
Of course there will be protests at Shannon on the day Trump arrives in Ireland. But there won’t be motorcade rides through Dublin and there won’t be a visit, even a courtesy visit, to President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin. Nor will there be an invitation to Leinster House to address both Houses of the Oireachtas. Such a visit could provoke mass demonstrations in the capital city which could turn quite ugly.
And so, instead, Trump will be received in circumstances of obscurity and high security.
He will also meet Theresa May as she starts her short walk away from high office.
In that context, we should not forget Trump’s previous strong support not merely for Brexit, but for continental radical right-wingers aiming to break up the European Union. Trump’s malice towards the EU is astonishing.
His description of the European Union not merely as a rival but as an enemy of the United States reminds us of how little he cares for America’s European alliance and how quickly he is prepared to damage those states which have in the past been America’s closest friends through thick and thin. Commemorating D-Day should remind Trump that the continent of Europe is of enormous strategic and political interest and value to the United States. His desire to weaken the European Union and to engage in futile trade disputes with European economies simply cannot be forgotten or excused.
More worrying still, is the mutual admiration between Trump and Boris Johnson. It now appears very likely indeed that the Tories will choose to be led by Johnson in order to see off the threat of Nigel Farrage, another Trump groupie.
If Johnson does end up in No. 10 Downing Street, there will be grave danger of a no-deal Brexit as he remains the prisoner of his previous rhetoric. For a man who infamously declared “Fuck business!” in response to the opposition of the CBI and other business interests to his proposal to stage a no-deal Brexit, it will be very difficult to resist the temptation to crash out of the EU.
The Tories are in such a bad way that selecting anybody but Johnson now seems like slow suicide to the party faithful. None of his challengers show any dynamism or character. Only Johnson appears to the Tory faithful as being likely to “face down” the Brussels elite.
As I said here last week, we should be very, very worried about the economic consequence for Ireland of a no-deal Brexit.
The most ironic aspect of Theresa May’s tear-laden resignation speech was her utterly unreal description of the United Kingdom as being not a Union of four nations but a single British nation. Her repeated references to the Union and to her party as the Conservative and Unionist party, demonstrated why she has been so damaging for England, Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The North, no matter how one views it, is not part of a single British people. The whole purpose of the Good Friday Agreement was to acknowledge the very opposite.
Moreover, the North is rapidly moving towards being a majority Catholic society which will have no desire to be seen as a part of a homogeneous British people.
During Mrs. May’s premiership, she has lurched from one self made disaster to another. It was she who established her notorious Lancaster House red lines and made the EU’s insistence on the Irish backstop inevitable. It was she who promised the voters that she would not call a snap election. It was she who cynically broke that promise and lost her majority - needlessly and carelessly. It was she who played into the hands of her own party’s extremist ERG wing and the DUP. It was she who cynically manipulated votes in the House of Commons by her party whips to attempt to prevent any cross-party consensus. It was she who drove moderates out of her party. It was she who threw away any prospect of a soft Brexit. And so it was that she has paid the price not merely of intransigence but of weakness and opportunism in equal measure.
As I wrote here last week, storm clouds are gathering for Ireland.
We badly need a government that concentrates on what really matters. We can’t afford one transfixed by a desire to use spin and vote-buying to position itself for an early general election.
There are hard decisions to be made and hard issues to be faced. The can has been kicked down the road so often and so far and on so many issues that it has lost its shape, causing the kickers to stub their toes politically.
Heaven help us in the months ahead.