Thursday 20 June 2019

Mr Kenny goes to Washington...

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
Editorial

Editorial

As a child, Taoiseach Enda Kenny used to memorise the speeches of President John F Kennedy. He listened to them on records, as it was the practice to record them at the time, and can still recite passages.

Due to the blizzard weather conditions in Boston, the Taoiseach had to cancel an address to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the assassinated US President and Irish-American icon.

Maybe that was for the best. Unfortunately, the oratory skills of JFK have not extended to his acolyte.

Mr Kenny had his foot firmly lodged back in his mouth yesterday as he fumbled around explaining his stances ahead of his meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump is, of course, the man who Mr Kenny criticised for using "racist and dangerous" language.

Now the Taoiseach claims this doesn't mean he thought the then-presidential candidate was racist and dangerous.

"I did not refer to the person of the now-president as being racist. My comment was in respect of his language."

The comments haven't gone unnoticed Stateside. During an interview on US network CNBC, the Taoiseach was asked why he had accepted the invitation to the White House, given what he had said about Mr Trump.

Although he stands by his language, he won't be apologising for seemingly branding Trump a racist.

"I'm not into English classes..." he said.

Anyone got the head of a pin for him to dance on?

When someone who uses racist language is not a racist, then you're really engaging in semantics.

Let's cast aside any notion that Mr Kenny will say anything even remotely uncomfortable to Mr Trump when he sits in the Oval Office today.

Mr Kenny will do his duty on making the case for the illegal Irish immigrants based in the United States, who face an uncertain future under the Trump regime.

The Taoiseach says he'll explain the benefits of the European Union and how it can work with the US.

No doubt Mr Trump will be fascinated, if he even bothers listening. If Mr Kenny wants to get the US president truly engaged, he might be better off discussing the fairways at Doonbeg golf course.

Don't get your hopes up on the US president emerging as a truly reformed man.

A further peculiarity developed around a speech at a prestigious shindig in Washington.

Mr Kenny is on his farewell tour of Washington. Everybody knows it's his final major trip as leader of the country, as he's about to stand down in the coming months.

Indeed, it might have been on the minds of a few of his hosts in the US to pay tribute to his years of service and wish him well. But, apparently, the forthcoming abdication of the Fine Gael throne is not to be discussed under any circumstances.

His imminent departure was to be referred to by him at the American-Ireland Fund dinner last night - until he withdrew it from the script.

The initial draft of the speech directly referred to this visit being his last St Patrick's Day as Taoiseach.

The speech was then withdrawn, with the line missing from the new version.

"It shouldn't have been in there," Mr Kenny said when asked to explain the change of mind.

It's all a bit pathetic.

What happened to Paddy likes to know, Taoiseach?

Irish Independent

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