Trump and Biden are culturally Irish
By Stephen Corbett
Donald Trump could repatriate Apple and Google, rip up the Good Friday Agreement, and next March 17th spend the day on the greens at Mar Al Lago.
Expect anything from the United States nowadays.
That’s why I’m sounding the alarm from Scranton, Pennsylvania, birthplace of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, though not somewhere he spent much time after the age of ten.
That’s also why I’ve been trying to give Ireland fair warning.
But, for whatever the reason, it looks like I’ve worn out my hundred thousand welcomes in the land of my grandfather’s birth. Judging from Irish media’s recent reaction to my recently released novel, ‘Paddy’s Day in Trump Town’, you’d think I accused local lads of peeing on the Blarney Stone and then wrote a novel exposing their gross national sacrilege.
Which, I did, of course.
But that doesn’t excuse bougie Irish publishers, smug radio talkshow hosts, pompous book reviewers, and other elite social commentators of the Gael who ignore my Siren’s wail about our mutually bleak future if America’s 45th president gets re-elected.
I blame the Irish for Trump’s ascendancy in the first place.
Had countless long-ago Irish ancestors not given birth to brave immigrants and sent them to my Northeastern Pennsylvania part of America to mine anthracite in underground hard coal country, their descendants’ bigotry would never have propelled Omadhaun Trump over the top and into the White House. These same lads, the “Irish Guys” as I call their racist, sexist, white male social club in my book, are now doing anything and everything in their power to guarantee Trump’s re-election. That terrible prejudice once endured by the Irish themselves is what my disturbing novel is all about. And now once again in November Irish America will push this bigot, this imposter, the man who threatens life itself, back towards office.
My tribe of Irish Americans shat on what the shamrock symbolised.
And that’s news, not good for the Irish tourist industry, corporate media and the island economy, of course, but news nonetheless.
I know both sides of this sharp Celtic dagger.
As a two-fisted, award-wining newspaper columnist for decades, I created a career knocking out politicians who were crooked in that Irish-American way. Government officials once arrested me and my bosses for doing journalism in America. But we fought the corrupt system, winning one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism honours for our service to a free press.
As the big, loud Yank host for numerous CIÉ bus tours, I also sang the praises of the auld sod and escorted mostly Irish-American tourists on their oftentimes first and last trip to the land of their forebearers north and south. Oh yes, I know the appeal.
So does self-consciously Irish-American Biden. But he’s no Brian Ború.
When I interviewed Biden on my radio show in 2008, he told me how he listened to me whenever he was working late in his Senate office in Washington, D.C. and got homesick for Scranton. The truth is, until then, Biden had never heard of me.
When Biden and I met face-to-face in 2011, Biden humiliated a decent man who just lost his house in a flood. After a heartfelt, tearful struggle the man decided not to rebuild because he had rebuilt after a previous flood and could no longer face the gruelling uncertainty for him and his family. Biden questioned whether the man’s dead father and grandfather would have quit.
As I stood glaring at the vice president, Biden looked at me with his toothy grin and said, “You can smile, Doctor Death”. I left the room before I created an international incident.
Ah, the clumsiness of the Irish-American politician. McCarthy, Daley and Buchanan; Pence, Spicer and Conway.
Isn’t it grand?
I just turned 21 when I first set foot in Dublin in 1972. During three leisurely months living in a third-floor Ranelagh bedsit, I drank nightly in Humphry’s, finished as runner-up in a National Stadium boxing tournament, drank tea with the late Victor Bewley, and journeyed by train and bus to walk the sacred land of my coal miner grandfather’s birth in Cornamona, County Galway.
None of my lovely background apparently matters to the Irish literary and media gentry.
One beautiful people publisher in Dublin, whose roots run deep in my family’s Gaeltacht village, cold-shouldered my warm, personal inquiry the way she might stare down a spoiled salmon salad. Radio legend Pat Kenny, who loved talking with me on the air when he reached out during the 2005 Michael Jackson pedophile trial I covered for a small California paper and Sky News ignored my collegial email. Christ, after three emails, I couldn’t even get a response from Declan Varley, novelist and Galway Advertiser editor.
Because these blatherskites get timid when it comes to Trump, tourism and outlaw troublemakers like me, Ireland better beware. Weak-kneed press clerks and publishing prima donnas stifle creativity, freedom and the unbridled hunt for truth.
Let them eat peat.
Leo Varadkar will be much better off next time he heads to the White House if he talks of the bog rather than the golf course.
Remembering what part of the bog you came from will set us free.
Jesus didn’t say that.
And Paddy’s Day in Trump Town is better than the Bible.
So thanks to your wanker American cousins our worst man might somehow win again. If the orange menace does emerge victorious from the darkness of our soul, the Irish will feel the global pain and change utterly.
I’m warning you, Ireland, because I’ll always love you.
So kiss me, I’m Irish-American. On second thought, keep your distance. COVID-19 and bad American Presidents can both be deadly, for in Ireland-loving Trump and Biden are encapsulated the limitations of the Irish-American dream. And you haven’t, let’s face it, had much trouble with the incumbent.