Before the month is out, more intimate versions of the Buckingham Palace world leaders’ back-slapping and guffawing that so offended the thin-skinned US president, Donald Trump, will play out across the country.
Cabals will gather at office drinks parties and gleefully eviscerate colleagues. On the home front, siblings will whisper at the family Christmas dinner that Uncle Jim or Aunt Bridie has gone beyond the beyond and would want to cut back on the sluicing.
These are some of the dynamics of our interactions, interactions often sharpened by that age-old truth: In vino veritas. Interactions often sharpened by bitterness, negativity, and bad choices, too.
But neither Uncle Jim nor Aunt Bridie can shape the lives of hundreds of millions. Trump can.
His influence outweighs his capacity in the most unnerving ways. European shares closed higher on Wednesday, after he assured the world that talks on rolling back trade war tariffs with China were going “very well”.
His unshakable supporters may believe he is masterminding these talks, even if he is a volatile, dishonest, serial bankrupt, who, despite several years in office, remains indifferent to the weight facts bring to an argument.
Tragically, it is easy to imagine a cabal of the über-rich back-slapping each other, as he introduces legislative and tax changes that add to their bottom line.
This concentration of wealth was well underway before he took office, but it has accelerated. Investment bank Credit Suisse reports that the proportion of global household wealth held by the world’s richest 1% rose from 42.5% to 47.2% in the decade after 2008.
Oxfam estimates that 26 individuals own as much household wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, or 3.5bn souls.
Britain’s Equality Trust reports that the UK’s six richest people are wealthier than the bottom 13.2m people. Six billionaires, they say, have an estimated €46.62bn, though 4m Britons live in poverty.
This is just one metric that speaks loudly in Trumpworld. Permanent — in terms relevant to anyone alive today — environmental degradation is another.
Impeachment proceedings are another. Yet, he remains the bookies’ favourite to be re-elected in less than 11 months. Trump’s journey to the White House was facilitated by, among many things, Democrats’ barely concealed contempt for many of their compatriots, which escaped into full view with Hilary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment.
Yet, it seems they have learned nothing from that bet-the-farm misjudgment. America votes on November 3, but Democratic hopefuls are still fighting each other.
Joe Biden leads the field, though he looks, and sounds, every day of his 77 years. Elizabeth Warren seems to have stalled, while Pete Buttigieg — the 37-year-old Mayor Pete — advances.
None looks like a game-changer. This all points to the inescapable importance of candidate preparation and selection. At the end of next week, the consequences of that neglect will play out in Britain.
It was obvious in Wexford last week, when Fine Gael displayed Clinton-grade hubris.
It is not too late to implement the obvious lessons before our next general election, but it soon will be..