Dublin: If you are a Trump supporter you might want to avert your eyes from this column.
Having spent a week in Ireland I came across not one person who has a good world to say about the Republican candidate.
Everybody in fact had a bad word from “lunatic” to “ludraman” – an Irish expression meaning waster. “The only good thing I can say about Trump is that his sons are worse,” cracked a Kerry farmer, with the usual Irish wit. “Sure they have no official office at all and they seem to run around thinking they are running the country.”
I was approached by lots of people looking for reassurance, an expert view from the US that Trump had no chance. I could offer no such guarantee.
After I admitted that there was an unbelieving, almost pleading stare in their eye and they’d say to me “America would never elect Trump now, would they?”
I have to tell them the jury is out. After Hillary looked like pulling away following the convention, the gap seems to have narrowed so 'There is no certainty anymore,' I tell them.
Conventional wisdom has been proven wrong so often in this campaign that only a fool will tell you he/she knows what will happen.
(Says he who had Hillary home and hosed a few weeks ago!)
Trump has changed all the rules, running an asymmetrical campaign that changes on the fly, is dominated by media coverage not by policy, and is invented out of thin air. It is brilliant and unorthodox and has brought him within a few points of the White House if polls are to be believed.
Furthermore, I tell them, no one is sure that Hillary Clinton is handling it right. Democratic bedwetters are again stocking up on the Depends.
I admit most Irish are Democrats who fit much more into the European model of social democratic rule, definitely to the left of the GOP. But there is usually a common sense view that America should elect whoever they want. Not this year – they feel very strongly about Trump.
It is because it really matters to the world who America picks, much more than in any country. Rule Britannia has been replaced by Stars and Stripes forever. Whether it's the economy (American investment sustains one in five jobs in Ireland), foreign policy (Bush, Iraq, ISIS are uppermost on people’s minds and, yes, Trump holding the nuclear codes would be, the Irish people say, giving a complete ignoramus on foreign policy the right to blow up the world) or any issue really, there is a knock-on effect the world over.
So no Trump here, in Ireland or Europe in general it seems, given his nativism and 'America First' beliefs, which many see as racist.
“It’s Mary bar the door” time.
Not one Irish person would defend him. I would always find a few in the past, usually in the business community, who would prefer the hard-charging American capitalist model and candidate to the Democratic Party candidate, who is always the choice of weeping willows and lefty luvvies in Euroland.
However, not one of my business friends encountered in hotels, hurling games or parties had one good word to say about the Great Pretender.
Most feel Americans have taken leave of their senses if they even think about voting for Trump.
Women in particular are appalled at the idea of Trump running the United States with his three wives and nakedly misogynistic comments about women in general.
People are also amazed at how long and tedious the election process is. ”It seems to go on forever,” said Sean O’Connor, well-known bar and restaurant owner in Ballydavid in the Kerry Gaeltacht. “Christ, we could elect a government and throw them out again in the same length of time.”
I can report then that Trump is a bridge too far for the Irish, who actually liked John McCain, admired Romney in some ways and have a generally positive view of Bush Senior.
Trump, however, they see as a joker, a man destined to fail and fail badly with dire consequences for the planet if he is elected.
The Irish are really consistent – they rarely speak well of Republicans.
In the matter of Trump they are actually screaming stop.