Pardoning turkeys and parsing Joe

Two days ago Donald Trump was on TV, sharing the top spot with a turkey. The bird was a fine big creature, and as is customary,  Trump granted it a Thanksgiving pardon. Maybe he perfomed before cameras because he just loves seeing his mug on telly, or maybe because he wanted to prefigure the next day – yesterday.  Because yesterday Trump, without ceremony, granted another pardon. He did it, predictably, on Twitter:

“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”

Flynn, you’ll remember, admitted lying to the FBI about Russian meddling in the 2016 election campaign.

It’s hard not to wonder if Trump’s tweet couldn’t have been sub-edited in advance, so it didn’t half-drown in wonderfuls and truly fantastics and unnecessary and ungrammatical capitalisation. Anyway, both the turkey and Flynn must have been relieved by the now-grey Trump sparing the pair of them.   

Meanwhile, the northern unionist columnist Newton Emerson in today’s Irish Times  pores over the president-elect’s brief comment on the need to avoid a “guarded border” in Ireland: “We’ve worked too long to get Ireland worked out.”

Emerson grinds out the required number of words for his column by parsing the president-elect’s brief statement. With a verbal agility usually attributed to the Jesuits he drills into Biden’s words:

 “The idea of having a Border North and South once again being closed is just not right, we’ve got to keep that Border open,” Biden said.

Emerson explains that not only is there not a closed border now, there never has been a closed border here. He’s right, if you think “closed” has the same meaning as “sealed’. He’s wrong, in that it’s fairly obvious Biden means a guarded border, such as existed from the NE state’s inception until the end of the Troubles.

Maybe Emerson is ingesting some of the stuff Diego Maradona once ingested,  for next you know he’s talking about Biden having  created an image of “a shooting war along a sealed frontier”. It’s called creating a straw man or, more bluntly, babbling turkey-poo.

There’s other stuff in the unionist columnist’s piece about Joe Biden’ having mentioned France. This means, Emerson explains, that  Biden is taking a British line and seeing Brexit as a UK-Ireland-EU problem.

Oh dear. I was under the impression unionists like Emerson believed the NE of Ireland was (an integral) part of the UK and that the south of Ireland was (an integral) part of the EU. Certainly that’s what Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar were at pains to explain to the British government, over and over: the UK is negotiating with the EU, not with the south of Ireland.  Yes, Ireland north and south are or were the friction points in these negotiations. But isn’t that just a teensy bit different from saying this is a three-way negotiation?

Finally, Emerson has unkind words for unionist politicians who don’t seize the opportunity to tout their vision of things all round the US, now that a new administration is about to take power. He’s right there. The fact is, unionist leaders won’t even try to do this. Maybe because they’re thran, maybe because they’re thick, maybe because they’re both. Most likely, however, is that  they know they have no case to offer.

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