Hello Joe, goodbye Donald??

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This blog first appeared as a column in the Andersonstown News

Finally it’s official: Joe Biden is the Democratic Party’s candidate for US president in November. He’s not so much a Teflon candidate as a window-pane candidate – he was vice-president under Obama for eight years and most of us were so busy observing Obama, Joe scarcely registered on our consciousness.

Except for his gaffes. Here are just two.

In 2010, when Obama’s health care bill was signed, Joe congratulated the president with the words “This is a big ****ing deal!” And yes, a microphone picked up his words. Ouch.

In 2008, at a Democratic party rally, Joe called into the microphone: “I’m told Chuck Graham, state senator is here. Stand up Chuck, let ‘em see you. Oh God love you. What am I talking about.”  That was Joe to Chuck Graham, who was in a wheelchair.

Yep, the stuff of nightmare. But while it’d be nice if Joe were more nimble and fault-free, what’s the alternative?  Donald Trump. He’s put his foot in his mouth so often, he wakes in the morning sucking his toenails.

Here are just two from the Donald Playbook:

In 2015, during a TV interview, impressing people with the story of his struggle: “It has not been easy for me…My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars”.

And in the same year, commenting on the much-lauded Senator John McCain, who was captured and held captive by the Viet Cong: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  [Trump himself avoided military call-up five times: four times because he was at college, once because he had bad feet.]

When you place Joe beside Donald, you begin to see Joe as a fallible human: capable of boo-boos, but maybe the more human for that. Trump, on the other hand, is a man shorn of self-awareness, viewing all things through the warped lens of his massive ego.  

Trump’s ancestry is Scottish, and recent ancestry  at that, since his mother was Scottish. Joe’s ancestry is Irish, but it goes back nearly two centuries: his great-grandfather, James Finnegan, emigrated from County Louth in 1850.

Donald has a business  interest in Scotland: he owns the Trump Turnberry golf resort. In 2019, it was reported that over the previous five years, the Turnberry golf resort lost nearly £43 million.

Joe has an interest in Ireland, but one that’s purely emotional, or maybe that should be political. This is from a speech he made during a visit to Ireland:

“James Joyce wrote ‘When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart’. Well, Northeast Pennsylvania will be written on my heart. But Ireland will be written on my soul.”

Cringe-making? Just a bit.  But not as cringe-making as Donald Trump’s comments about the way he handles women, or his claim that George Floyd, the black man killed by having a cop’s knee pressed on his neck, would be looking down and feeling very happy with Trump’s job figures and with Trump generally.

If we’re honest, most of us would have preferred nearly any of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls, but Joe’s the candidate they chose. And to look on the bright side: it’s amazing how people can grow into a job, once they have it. Already, Biden has unveiled policies for jobs and health that surpass those of Barack Obama by a considerable length. If he wins, Biden will find himself a Depression president, and only a President capable of big bold moves will give leadership during a Depression.

But one great strength that Biden has which Trump doesn’t, and that’s the respect of the black community in the US. They’re capable of distinguishing between phoney bluster and straight talking, and with the help of God, come November, Trump will learn the hard way that black lives matter as black votes send him packing.

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