Wednesday 13 November 2019

He may be obnoxious, but that does not mean he hasn't got a good point

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Thomas Molloy

It's not easy to like Donald Trump. The tousle-topped property tycoon and television personality is boastful and self-centred to a degree that turns most people off.

Still, he knows a thing or two about making and losing money, having created and lost vast fortunes in his time. He is also a disinterested observer in the mini-drama that is Aer Lingus these days. Disinterested because he neither stands to win nor lose money if IAG does get its way and buys the former flag carrier.

The debate is short of people who do not have some sort of personal stake in the outcome. Aer Lingus management stand to make millions while many TDs stand to lose thousands of votes. Business leaders who object to the takeover can be driven by petty considerations, such as the potential effects on their Heathrow commutes rather than the long-term national interest. Airlines such as Virgin and Ryanair have their own axes to grind.

Amid all this self-serving analysis, Trump stands above party political debate. With a private jet on standby, he does not even have to worry about the dreaded Heathrow slots. His only skin in the game is his Irish golf course and we can probably agree that his interests coincide with ours. So Mr Trump may well be right when it comes to Aer Lingus and he is certainly worth listening to.

Still, and this is a big caveat, Mr Trump is a casino and property magnate best known for hosting 'The Apprentice' reality TV show. He is most certainly not an aviation expert.

He is also prone to gaffes of all kinds, from the recent bankruptcy of the Trump-linked casino chain to his questions about whether Barack Obama has a "real" American birth certificate.

There is a strange tendency in this country to pay more attention to business advice when it is offered with an American accent.

There is something in our psyches that ensures we sit up and listen to a drawl like Trump's. That's no bad thing.

Outside advice is useful but ultimately we must decide the future of Aer Lingus ourselves after weighing up our long-term interests.

Irish Independent

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