At last two pieces which go to the heart of why Donald Trump is rampant and Hillary Clinton is faltering. The plain fact is that people like their politicians to inspire or at least identify with their problem and fears. Mrs Clinton is a poor speaker and comes across as an over-calculating policy wonk who does neither. Remember those visits to Belfast showing support for the peace process which continued even after we were thrown off the international news agenda? Admirable for us but all for naught back home it seems. The impact of Bill and Hillary in Ireland and perhaps even the magic of JFK is fading fast. In a terrific piece in the Irish Times Niall O’Dowd explains why Irish America’s drift away from the Democrats is speeding up fast with Hillary.
The poll showed Irish-Americans voting 45 per cent for Trump with 41 per cent for Clinton and the rest undecided.
The break with traditional ties to Democrats and Clinton is from a culture where pulling yourself up by the bootstraps has become a powerful belief. Now they believe they see America moving backwards at a rate of knots. Quotas in universities, firehouses and police stations have affected them in once traditional Irish professions.
… America is falling apart, Hillary and Bill are kleptomaniacs who’d steal your kid’s communion money, minorities are crime-ridden, getting special treatment, illegals are overrunning the country, Trump is the only hope.
Mike Mullen, a successful entrepreneur with roots in Clare, Cork and Galway who founded a successful software company that eventually employed 400, has very strong views on Hillary Clinton too.
I cannot remember a time when the choices for president were so poor. But, given the poor choice, I will have to vote for Donald Trump. There are many reasons for me to be disenchanted with Mr Trump, but my opposition to secretary Hillary Clinton far outweighs any and all of the issues I have with a Trump candidacy. Indeed, none of my issues with Clinton is greater than the upcoming supreme court appointment to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat. I also think the Clintons (and without doubt Hillary) exhibit the lowest standards of integrity . . .”
O’Dowd’s piece complements Justin Webb’s in the Times (£) who puts his finger on Hillary’s big weakness.
In these pages on Tuesday Tim Montgomerie pointed out that we Britons find hatred of Hillary Clinton difficult to grasp. She is plainly an accomplished and able person. She does not insult people, or demean political discourse. And yet her popularity figures are roughly the same as Donald Trump’s. Most Americans don’t trust her, most do not like her, and a large number dislike her a lot — an NBC poll last month suggested 41 per cent of Americans had a “very negative” view of Mrs Clinton. True, Trump did slightly worse at 44 per cent but Vladimir Putin did better, at 38 per cent
It is only since she started spending the big bucks on getting elected that the people have turned against her. She has blown millions of dollars on reducing her appeal.
In other words, it’s not her: it’s her campaign. Or her campaign style. Nobody minds a workaholic, calculating, even Machiavellian secretary of state. But presidential candidates, famously, ought to be likeable, at least approachable. True, Trump is not. But he makes up for it in wacky newsworthiness. He dominates the stage. She doesn’t charm and she doesn’t dominate either.
Whether or not she loses in California on Tuesday the idea that she can grind her way to the White House is now regarded by most Democrats as dangerous. Against a conventional dull opponent it might have worked but even his worst enemy does not call Trump conventional. She needs to learn some modern campaigning skills. She needs to make some waves. Even mistakes. The alternative is a dispiriting campaign against a man she really ought to be crushing.
As The Wall Street Journal sniffed the other day: “It’s Hillary’s to lose. And if anyone can do it, she can.”
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London