Brendan Hoban: US Devotion to Trump is simply a mystery                

Western People 4.6.2024  

For political eggheads the prospect of three elections – local, EU and general – is manna from heaven but for those who at best tolerate elections, not so much! And not too far ahead, for the really smitten election enthusiast, there’s the added bonus of the American presidential contest on November 5, a prospect that, in the crazy world of American politics, has now moved beyond expectation and reason.    

Indeed it’s a measure of how skewed American politics has become that, in the weeks before Donald Trump was deemed a convicted felon by a New York court, the New York Times ran a feature article headed: Trump could soon be a felon. Does it matter? The gist of the answer was: probably not that much.

Despite that, last Thursday’s conviction, a red-letter day in American political history, brought a collective intake of breath – and a slow release of air. In Friday morning’s Irish Times, the American correspondent, Keith Duggan, in computing how polarizing the effect of the conviction in a divided America might be, compared it to ‘pouring gasoline on a fire that’s already burning’. Trump’s son, Jared, predicted that the day Trump was convicted would go down in history as the day Trump won the forthcoming election in November.

Yet strangely the trial itself – even with the truly extraordinary prospect of a presumptive Republican nominee being convicted as a felon and with the added prospect of him actually going to jail – hadn’t generated the expected publicity.

A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll indicated that only 16% were following the trial very closely and an additional 32% following it somewhat closely. Another poll indicated that over half of the responders which included two thirds of Republicans and two fifths of Democrats – believed that it was somewhat or very unlikely that Trump would be found guilty.

Compare the huge statistics watching the O.J. Simpson trial for murder in the 1990s and it shows how the Trump trial passed under the radar for many Americans. The fact that it didn’t receive blanket coverage on television may have contributed to this, as in America if something is not on television, it doesn’t exist, even a block away.

On this side of the Atlantic, this presidential campaign (and those of 2016 and 2020) have served to convince most people that America, when it comes to elections, is on a different planet from us.

In Ireland we have, to say the least, a more adult approach to politics and politicians. That’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of gluggers who haven’t brought much honour on themselves or on their parties. But, in comparison, with the Donald Trump era, there’s no contest as we stand head and shoulders over the standards and values that underpin American politics.

Here’s a profile of Trump who is at present leading Biden in national polling averages since March by 41.2% to 39.5%:

An unapologetic womanizer (by common consent); a sexual abuser (as a jury in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case concluded); a conspiracy theorist and a conspirer (for whom truth is what he says it is and anything else is ‘fake news’); a politician who, if elected, has laid out the following strategy for ruling America: (i) promising a scorched earth campaign against his ‘enemies’; (ii) indicating that he would withdraw American economic and military support from Ukraine (and thereby effectively facilitate a Russian victory); (iii) threatening to emasculate NATO ( and thereby place the security of Eastern Europe and the EU at risk); and (iv) planning a vast repatriation of immigrants from America regardless of the consequences for them – or for America. And now since Thursday last, outed as a criminal who is currently the favourite in an election not just for the presidency of the USA but as the uncontested leader of the free world.

If an Irish politician shared the above profile, not only would every party spurn him but he would be dismissed as a pariah and humiliated at the polls – a hopeless case, as at best a figure of fun but clearly never to be given any responsibility. Least of all, for the nuclear button!

Between ourselves and America there is an Atlantic size ocean that somehow precludes understanding. Irish people are mesmerized by the value system – or lack of a moral sense – underpinning American politics and sometimes American society.

This is a country that imagines that safety and security is assured rather than compromised by allowing everyone and anyone to buy guns simply by walking into a shop on practically any high street in America. The fact that this insane policy has the opposite effect is somehow lost on the America public even though its blatant insanity is consistently highlighted by an endless series of outrages committed by individuals with mental health problems using lethal weapons to attack and kill children in schools.

While both Ireland and America have had difficult histories with more than enough guns, in Ireland it would be unconscionable to have a gun in a school while in America there’s a campaign to place armed police around schools to defend (with good reason) the children from the American romance with the six-gun and its modern and lethal equivalents. It is instructive that Trump himself once boasted he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone without it affecting his popularity.

Trump’s conviction as a felon for a former American president and a possible future American president is a first in American political history. If the American electorate cannot join the dots and learn the obvious lesson of what his conviction represents, the future looks grim for America and for the world.

Voting for Trump is like turkeys voting for Christmas.

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  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    Jared’s not his son but his son-in-law.

    The trial was a mess — his crime was very poorly focused — the 34 counts were really only one — an iffy piece of paperwork — with the jury free to choose between three possible interpretations of what its nefarious intent is deemed to be. It looks like his campaign is benefiting, as seen in skyrocketing donations.

  2. While Trump has all those faults…. you are totally avoiding, if not ignoring the evil that goes along with the present Biden Administration. I use the word ‘evil’ with its full weight.
    Biden and his gang may appear to look like ‘whited sepulchers’ but look beneath and not just look one way as your article displays.
    It’s a bad choice indeed between Trump and Biden. It would be so much better if neither of them were running, but PLEASE dig deeper into the shenanigans of the Biden administration.
    You address the issue of his being found guilty of a felony in NYC. Do you know who is the AG of NYC? Do you know anything about the Judge and his family in the case and where their $$ contributions have gone in political matters? Getting a fair trial in NYC (deep blue) would be like having a jury of Maggie Thatchers handing down a sentence for criminals from the south of Ireland during the ‘troubles’.

  3. Joe O'Leary says:

    Paul Mac, I think it is advisable not to bring out such a heavy word as “Evil” in connection with your perceived bias of AG, Judge, and Jury against the defendant. It might be suitable for plots to undermine Democracy by Steve Bannon or the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025). Biden refuses to rant and rave about the conviction of his son yesterday (with a Trump-appointed judge that Biden left in place), but instead give a demonstration of respect for the legal system (which Trumpists are now depicting as a diabolical strategy to make their man look bad.)

  4. Michael J. Toner says:

    Little mystery here: his supporters are to greater or lesser degree, like himself.

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