COLUMN

IT OCCURS TO ME: Fear and loathing in the White House

Remembering the days of Spitting Image

Frank Galligan

Reporter:

Frank Galligan

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

IT OCCURS TO ME: Fear and loathing in the White House

I’m sure many of you remember the hilarious Spitting Image TV series from the 1980’s, with its savage depictions of Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
In the latter’s case, he was seen as a harmless oul eejit, counting his jelly beans and spouting nonsense, while having a finger too close to the nuclear button.
Yes, we laughed in our comfort, secure in the knowledge that greater counsel in his White House ensured that they would keep feeding him sweeties and show him photos of Ballyporeen, and sure...we’d all be grand.
I remember another joke at the time which had Secretary of State Al Haig rush into the Oval Office and declare: “Mr President, Mr President, Iran is threatening to invade Israel...what will we do?” To which the bould Ronnie responds: “Get the wagons in a circle, and head ‘em off at the pass!”
There’s nothing comparable to laugh at now, and having read Bob Woodward’s amazing book, ‘Fear’, about the Trump regime, the late Ronald Reagan looks positively presidential!
The book’s title is from a quote Donald Trump gave in a 2016 interview with Bob Woodward and his Washington Post fellow journalist, Robert Costa: “Real power is — I don’t even want to use the word — fear.”
How that bullying and ‘fear’ manifests itself as described by Woodward is mind boggling and frightening. He writes; “The reality was that the United States in 2017 was tethered to the words and actions of an emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable leader.
“Members of his staff had joined to purposefully block some of what they believed were the president’s most dangerous impulses. It was a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world.”
John F. Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, is quoted as saying about the president, in a meeting, “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown.”
Kelly frequently lost his temper, telling colleagues he thought the president was “unhinged”, according to Woodward. In one meeting, Kelly reportedly said Trump was “an idiot”, and it was “pointless to try to convince him of anything.”
“He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had,” Kelly added.
A West Wing aide named Zach Fuentes cautions fellow staffers. “He’s not a detail guy. Never put more than one page in front of him. Even if he’ll glance at it, he’s not going to read the whole thing. Make sure you underline or put in bold the main points … you’ll have 30 seconds to talk to him. If you haven’t grabbed his attention, he won’t focus.”
Yet, Fuentes is not talking about Trump! He’s referring to John Kelly. Crazytown indeed.
Legal Counsel Gary Cohn and Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, had “several quiet conversations” about what they referred to as “The Big Problem: The president did not understand the importance of allies overseas, the value of diplomacy or the relationship between the military, the economy and intelligence partnerships with foreign governments.”
The insults fly in “Fear”.
Trump said to White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter about Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus: “He’s like a little rat. He just scurries around. You don’t even have to pay any attention to him.”
He called Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in Porter’s presence, “mentally retarded” and mocks his accent. Priebus calls Trump a "liar", with "zero psychological ability to recognise empathy or pity in any way".
And Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, KellyAnne Conway and Steve Bannon were "high-ranking natural killers…roving interlopers, a band of chaos creators".
Both Porter, Priebus and many others have since resigned or been sacked.
Having seen the destruction caused by the hurricane in North Carolina, an aide rushes into the Oval Office and shouts: “Mr President, Mr President...Florence is wreaking havoc and it’s spreading, What can we do?” Trump glares at him and growls: “Give her the same deal as Stormy Daniels!”

REMEMBERING THE PRINCE
In 1980 the Donegal Democrat announced “John Doherty-prince among traditional fiddlers-is dead”.
He will be commemorated again this weekend in Ardara in The Johnny Doherty Irish Traditional Music & Dancing Festival ..and the town will be chock-a-block with musicians, dancers and singers.
I recall in his latter years, that he played regularly in ‘Madge The Docs’ in Carrick and he was afforded great respect and reverence.
However, there’s always one ‘clugadon’...one gulpen who thinks because he’s been away for six months that it gives him carte blanche to show how much more sophisticated he is than the locals and, disastrously, how clever he’s become.

For those of you who had the pleasure of being in his company, Johnny often prefaced his tunes with a wee yarn, maybe something beginning with “It was a wild stormy night and I had a mountainous road to go…”
In any event, he had said early in the night that “The first time I hit Letterkenny, I thought I was at the end of the world!” but later claimed to have learned a certain tune in Falkirk.
“Ha, Ha!” interjected the clugadon…”A while ago, you hadn’t gone any further than Letterkenny and now you’re suddenly in Scotland”
There were dagger’s glances thrown at your man for daring to question the integrity of this most gentle of musicians...followed by an embarrassed hush.
However, Johnny just kept bowing away, looked up at the tooramaran and exclaimed softly...Ah sure, I was only ever in Scotland the wanst or twi’st...you might say I was never there at all!”
Ouch...guess who got the cheer?