I watched some of the (second) Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump, including the closing arguments today. I felt it was a partisan political circus.
Without question, Trump was an incredibly divisive President of America, a volatile and unpredictable figure who, at his worst, was inflammatory and dangerous. It is also the case that he was very probably destined for a second term had Covid-19 not come along.
For all his divisiveness, I find the obsessive nightly CNN onslaught on Trump off-putting. I’m not naïve; I know Trump was a chaotic, provocative force who heightened tensions in what is now a very worryingly divided America.
But I also think there are double standards (and blatant political gamesmanship) in the relentless criticism of the ‘Trump movement’ by CNN and Democrats.
When the votes were cast today, Trump was acquitted. The trial was a political circus, a desperate attempt by Democrats to humiliate Trump and – future electoral outings in mind – to embarrass and expose Republican Senators. Which is fair enough – but it is political gamesmanship.
Seven Republican Senators voted to convict Trump, but the vast majority of the party remains loyal to him.
There is a real possibility now – if, in his new capacity as a private citizen he can steer clear of prosecution – that Trump could launch another Presidential bid (for 2024). It may be unlikely, but it certainly cannot be ruled out.
It is undoubtedly the case that the mob attack on Capitol Hill – and Trump’s refusal to accept the election outcome – has weakened him. But it hasn’t finished him. Trumpism isn’t going away. Quite incredibly, a reality TV star who was in the twilight of his celebrity career a few years ago, has somehow grasped control of the Republican party, and won the support of millions of people. To what extent that devotion has been shaken by recent events remains to be seen.
This drama/reality show will continue. The stakes are high. American politics – America itself – will remain polarised for many years to come.
Social media age or not, I still love the Sunday papers. Buying them is a pleasure; finding the time to read them is a challenge.
For a few years now, it’s the Sunday Independent and Sunday Times for me. But every few weeks, I’ll opt for a third, or even a fourth Sunday paper.
Today, I glanced at the tempting front pages….for some reason, I paused on the Sunday World, which I haven’t bought for many years. It is of course renowned for its excitable, dramatic, even terrifying headlines. True to form, there was a right shocker staring back at me: ’40 years of Daniel (O’Donnell). 32-page tribute’. I hastily averted my glance and moved on to the other papers. Close one!
Later on Sunday
Alas, that golden snooker era of our youth is now being revisited through the obituary pages.
A few months ago, the charismatic Willie Thorne passed on…and the snooker world shed a collective tear.
Today, sad news of the death of Doug Mountjoy, the dapper Welsh gent who graced the sport for over two decades. He was aged 78.
Mountjoy was one of a colourful cast of players who captivated millions of viewers during snooker’s unforgettable emergence as a major TV sport in the 1980s. While not quite one of the very top players, Mountjoy – handsome, courteous, genial – was a fans’ favourite. And he could play. He won both the UK Championship and The Masters, was World Championship runner-up in 1981, and reached number 5 in the world at one stage.
Willie Thorne and the late, great Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins never really got on. But maybe Willie and Doug are having a few frames (and laughs) in Heaven…
Having worked late tonight, I binged on some late-night TV and was just about to head for bed when I saw that President Joe Biden was guesting at a CNN ‘Town Hall’ gathering in Milwauke. This was old-style politics, the star of the show standing in the middle of the stage, a handful (restricted due to Covid) of ordinary members of the public in the audience, ‘runners’ handing them a microphone as they popped questions at their President. Truly Town Hall stuff. Chairing proceedings was the very smooth Anderson Cooper, one of the CNN heavyweights.
Needless to say, there was no acrimony. Cooper was never going to challenge Biden; if anything, Anderson seemed very chuffed to be sharing the stage with the world’s most powerful man.
I was more impressed with Biden than I expected to be. During the election campaign, I felt he was pedestrian, playing it safe, decidedly unimpressive. Tonight, I watched America’s new President speak live for well over an hour, remaining on his feet despite a plush chair being provided.
While Biden was low enough on specifics and high on charm, this was a calming and compassionate interaction with the American people. After the sheer chaos of the Trump years, here was a President being reassuring and comforting in a time of crisis. He came across as straight and honest. He didn’t ‘overpromise’, and was measured in his responses. On Covid, his best estimate is that life will be much better by Christmas.
Certainly this was what one critic called ‘a winning performance’. Biden will have comforted and charmed and reassured millions of people with this first major public outing as President. That charm and decency and courtesy was in contrast to his more combative and blunt predecessor.
There were shades of traditional town hall gatherings with local politicians…at one point the President of the United States even offered to discuss an issue with a member of the audience if she didn’t mind staying behind after the event! Time will tell whether or not Biden delivers in a meaningful way, if charm is accompanied by conviction, sincerity and smiles by substance. This was an encouraging start.
And the man Trump memorably billed as ‘Sleepy Joe’ didn’t put me to sleep!