No point saying otherwise, this is a terrible thing

Alison O’Connor wonders if Donald Trump is really going to stop telling lies, stop swearing revenge on those who cross him, stop looking at women as objects who exist for his sexual gratification, or stop pandering to the base instincts of those who would wish to make America great and white again?
No point saying otherwise, this is a terrible thing

How it will stick in the craw if we have to watch our Taoiseach go to Washington in March and hand over the traditional bowl of shamrock to the new president of the US.

Personally, I’d rather eat the green clover, and the cut glass bowl it is contained in, than have us debase ourselves by having to “make nice” with Donald Trump.

It’s possibly just as well the decision on this is made by those who are more pragmatic, and think of the bigger picture in terms of trade, jobs and Irish illegal emigrants resident in the US. Whether we like it or not, there are around 140,000 people employed by over 700 US companies in Ireland.

However, by far the best outcome would be if Mr Trump cancelled the annual event out of a lack of interest; that way we wouldn’t have to endure that unseemly tussle with our collective conscience.

Last May, it was a proud day for Ireland when Taoiseach Enda Kenny stood in the Dáil and said he considered comments by Mr Trump during the campaign as “racist and dangerous” and pointed out “there is an alternative to vote for”.

Our Taoiseach was unusually forthright and regardless of yesterday’s result, it was the right thing to say at that time.

No doubt Mr Kenny greeted the news of Trump’s election success like so many of the rest of us, with utter and absolute shock.

His official statement of congratulations in no way reflected that, but he has many considerations to weigh up.

His words did contrast unfavourably with the wonderfully pointed and conditional statement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She did not offer congratulations, and said her relationship with Mr Trump would only succeed if he upheld “the dignity of man, independent of origin” and went on to list the values shared by the two countries and offer co-operation based on these values.

But she too stressed that for Germany, there is “no country outside the European Union with which we have deeper ties than with the United States”.

Hats off to Mrs Merkel for her directness but we have to remember that Germany is a far bigger country than we are, and not a small island currently sandwiched between a Trump Presidency and a Brexit.

Everyone is sitting back now and waiting for Mr Trump’s next move. Looking at him give his victory speech, there was an instant relief at hearing him sound so inclusive, and how he managed to pay tribute to his adversary Hillary Clinton.

But the relief was short lived when you actually considered how low a bar we had set for him; how we were just temporarily marvelling at his ability to adopt and maintain a civilised tone.

It would indeed be a relief to buy into the narrative that quickly got hold yesterday that Donald Trump in the White House will be a different man — that the misogynistic, xenophobic, racist Donald on the campaign trail would be replaced by a calmer more conciliatory one in the Oval Office.

The theory goes that he will now have manners put on him by an experienced team around him, while at the same time realising the responsibility he will bear as President.

It would be marvellous if this turned out to be the case but the odds on it happening, for even the medium term, are ridiculously slim.

We know from his various biographers and those who have observed him closely that the Trump we saw on the campaign trail is not all that removed from the Trump in “real life” if perhaps more exaggerated.

On two occasions Politico.com, the US website, has gotten his five biographers together to discuss their subject and on the most recent occasion, a few weeks ago, they said the Trump we heard during the campaign was not an act or a show.

This was the man they had each written about in 1992, in 1993, in 1999, in 2005, in 2015. He is, the biographers said, “profoundly narcissistic,” “willing to go to lengths we’ve never seen before in order to satisfy his ego”.

So is he really going to stop telling lies, stop swearing revenge on those who cross him, stop looking at women as objects who exist for his sexual gratification, or stop pandering to the base instincts of those who would wish to make America great and white again?

For that to happen he would need to wish to change, indeed first he would need to accept that there was a problem that required changing.

Honestly, if he is to appoint a woman to his Cabinet who amongst us imagines that, in his head at the very least, he won’t be debating the candidate’s “hotness” and her score out of ten.

There’s been some talk of Sarah Palin getting a job. Indeed Sarah for all her madness is indeed a bit of a looker. Still though, on Planet Trump, soon to be located in the White House, she might be considered a bit over the hill as a grandmother in her mid-50s, thereby excluding her.

It’s human nature to be tempted to believe that he might change. But those who actually believe that, and believe that he could remain in that more sane and reasonable space, are frankly still in that state of denial that caused so many to fail to see that he would get elected in the first place.

For now, officially, we need to proceed with caution. But we also need to realise there are limits to the usual diplomatic norms.

But personally we have no need to pretend. This is a horrible thing that has happened.

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