Friday 14 December 2018

Kenny's visit to President Grope could have him shaking all over

Enda faces a gripping crisis when he meets Trump and no one is talking about it, writes Gene Kerrigan

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan

Enda Kenny faces a small but potentially embarrassing predicament. And no one dares mention it. Let's do so.

A week from next Friday, he's scheduled to turn up at the White House with a bowl of shamrock for President Trump.

Irish politicians usually paint this ritual as a major event in the Washington calendar, but the one I attended was quite low key.

A White House flunkey brings out the shamrock and hands it to the Taoiseach, who hands it to the President, who smiles politely and pretends to give a damn.

The flunkey then takes back the shamrock and presumably goes in search of the nearest bin.

To Mr Trump, Ireland is a golf course, surrounded by a stretch of land mostly populated by little folk who wear green trousers and hats. He probably believes that all American visitors are greeted at Shannon, as he was, by an attentive Minister for Finance, while harpists and singers compete with the sound of jet engines.

So, he's unlikely to hold any ill-will towards Enda.

However, Trump poses a problem like no other president. He likes to shake hands. And he doesn't take his adversary's hand (to Trump, everyone is an adversary), he grabs it. He squeezes, he holds on, pumping the hand. Some find it uncomfortable, some find it painful.

Trump likes to jerk his hand back, pulling the adversary off balance, then he jerks again, in case anyone thought the first jerk was accidental.

He's showing who's top dog.

It's a bizarre personal quirk. And despite it being widely commented on, Trump can't help himself.

He's done it to his vice-president, Mike Pence. And his Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch. He's done it to Apprentice winners and people he's met randomly. Most notably, he held on to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's hand for 19 seconds, squeezing all the while, to Abe's obvious discomfort.

Perhaps it's a form of political intimidation - more likely it's a primitive male dominance kink that Trump can't suppress.

Before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent visit, there was speculation about how Trudeau would deal with this. Canadians are sensitive about Yanks pushing their politicians around.

However, Trudeau is a fitness freak quite capable of throwing Trump across the room. He walked smartly up to Trump, grasped his hand and held it rock steady. He stood in close and looked the president in the eye.

Now, if Trump pulled his jerk trick, Trudeau's forehead would smack into Trump's face.

Trump abandoned the contest, accepting Trudeau as an equal.

These are strange times.

On a very serious level, Trump's regime comprises people so far to the right that even Dick Cheney has reservations about them. They range from Alt Reich posers to actual Nazis who think Hitler's only fault was a weakness in his communication skills.

At the same time, on a juvenile level, the president insists in engaging in manly jerking and thrusting with every male he meets.

This is the psychological quagmire awaiting the Taoiseach - who is quite fit, but he's no Trudeau.

Even those of us who have issues with Enda don't want him humiliated or physically hurt by President Grope. This, absurdly, is a real problem but I doubt if it's one that any of the Taoiseach's highly paid advisers has thought about.

They should.

We see three possibilities: A) Enda could wear his arm in a sling; B) He could bring Conor McGregor along as his Designated Handshaker; C) He could just suck it up and get jerked around like a fish on the end of a line.

These are the problems that heads of government face today, as they pay ritual obeisance in the Age of Trump.

Sunday Independent

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