Sunday, 13 November 2016


The morning after the election, bleary after two and a half hours sleep, I wrote the following for the Times Literary Supplement's blog reacting to the result. If you want to read it in situ, along with the other responses, you can link to it here (there's also a link in my piece to the article I wrote for TLS the previous week on Trump as the reductio ad absurdam of the Republican party's 50 year descent into madness. It's a few entries before this one on this blog. Anyway, here's the view from the aquavit, my morning after with Trump:

The aquavit came out around 2:30 in the morning, when I realised Trump would win. By 5 I'd surrendered, went to bed considering how we journalists had failed. I'd written on election day for Newstalk Ireland about the 'imperfect storm' of ten ways in which Trump 'swift-boated' America, projecting his weaknesses as a candidate onto the voters themselves. It reads like a template for his victory, yet I did not take it seriously enough, not even as I watched America's sensationalist media chase Trump's theatrical grand guignol ahead of issues to the bitter end.
There is no one explanation for Trump's triumph. Not media, not gender, not race, not the anger of white men in the rust belt's industrial wastelands. Not crookedness, not Russia, not collusion between James Comey and Rudy Giuliani. Dislike for Hillary may have polled lower, but it proved stronger than dislike for Trump.
We misread people who took Trump's vision seriously, as they had Ronald Reagan's in 1980. They didn't really care if he built a wall or not, abused Miss Universe or not. I thought he aspired to become America's Berlusconi, with his own TV network. Many fear he'd prefer being America's Mussolini. Can he deal with Putin, May, or Merkel as he did the contractors building a casino? Can the job of being 'Leader Of The Free World' really be that simple?

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