I expect that many people were able to look at the debate between Senator Kamala Harris for the Democratic Party and Mike Pence, the vice-president, for the Republican Party. It was on TV the morning after the debate, when RTÉ ran it for an hour and a half.
Compared to the debate the week before between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, it was a far more civilised affair. Senator Harris is well able to speak up and make her point, and Mike Pence seems to be, by nature, a more ameliorative character than his immediate boss.
One way or another, the debate raised no huge hackles and yet I thought it brought out the character of each person quite clearly.
That brings me, of course, directly to the question: what do we make of Donald Trump? He came out from hospital after three days and he says he’s completely cured, which his doctors agree. It is the most amazing recovery from Covid-19 that I have ever read or heard about. He now says that getting the coronavirus was in fact a miracle. Then he went on to say about the wonder drug with which he was treated, that when he is reaffirmed as President, he will ensure that everyone else in America will get that drug free.
Talk about election promises – that tops the lot, I would think!
President Trump is really going to use the fact that he got Covid-19, and seemingly got better, as his top card in dealing with the virus. He keeps saying “don’t let this virus overwhelm you, do not concentrate on it,” and yet when you think of all the thousands of people who have died all over the world, and particularly all who have died in the US, it seems to make a mockery of all he is saying.
Anyway, we have just over two weeks left now. The debate next week will not be held because President Trump said he wouldn’t do the debate virtually, so we await and see will the two present themselves for the last debate at the end of October.
So far, the polls are being kind to Joe Biden. But we’ll see as the date approaches if those high figures stand up.
Here, back home in our own little country, Covid-19 cases are increasing by the day. I don’t know if any of the readers look at the figures every night. I do, and do you know, it’s something I might just stop paying such attention to. I watch the News at 5.30 on Virgin Media, and invariably they are stationed at the Department of Health and are able to bring us up to date with the daily figures. Then of course I move to RTÉ1 and the Six One News, where they give the figures again. Then your mind starts racing, and you keep thinking of what might yet happen.
The medical/political spat we had last week appears to have settled itself down, and all concerned now agree that we must work closely together to ensure that we keep the spread of coronavirus under control.
So, this week we have the Budget. Because my column will be going to print before the full outcome of the Budget is known, I will defer talking about it until next week. But even as I write these words, it seems that all available monies (and none that are not available ) will be used to mop up all those who have lost their jobs or who are continuing to feel the bad effects of coronavirus. That is absolutely correct and that’s what the Government is doing, and I’m glad to see it.
All the other political parties have brought forward their programmes of alternative budgets. I am glad to see this. As we all know in this country, all the money we are spending so well on all those who have been so disadvantaged will eventually have to be paid back; no matter how cheaply we get those loans, the day of reckoning will come.
So how has Brexit been faring? Finally, it appears a thaw has begun between Michel Barnier, representing Europe, and David Frost, representing the UK, and his team. It is only a small, teeny thaw, but it is happening and both sides are reporting that talks, tenuous though they are, are inching forward in a better humour and with hopefully a better outcome than had been originally envisaged.
Now that, if it happens, is truly good news, and if the outcome is that there will be a decent trade arrangement and talks, it will mean so much to us here in Ireland, and of course in particular to the agricultural community. It seems there has been a slight softening in Boris Johnson’s view on the matter. To me, it seems that he has begun to realise that he couldn’t just ram a bill through Westminster Parliament and decide that was that, and throw the whole Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Protocol to one side.
I am now hopeful, though with my fingers crossed four times, that the talks will proceed at this level keel. They are gone into a ‘tunnel’ now, as it is called, where there will be very few press briefings until hopefully – eureka – there is a final result. Let’s wish it all well; it will bring a bright ray of sunshine to such a doleful landscape.
We had great rugby over the weekend with Leinster (37 ) versus Benetton (25 ). Now that was a good match. There was an equally good one between Ulster (24 ) against Ospreys (12 ) – a greatly improved Ulster who up to this had not been making any waves, but they seem to be on a better route now.
Unfortunately, the Connacht (7 ) against Cardiff Blues (29 ) was of course a bad result for Connacht. These games were part of the Guinness Pro14 line-up.
But the most amazing sporting results at the weekend were at the European Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland. Anita Puspure for Ireland celebrated her gold medal win. Equally, it was a productive day on the water for the Irish crews as Fintan McCarthy, Daire Lynch and Ronan Byrne, and then the Irish women’s four, earned bronze medals.
Well done all round for rowing. I have always thought in an island country with many towns on rivers, the rowing clubs have a great chance to provide sporting facilities and individual excellence to all who participate in them. Here in Athlone, we have the wonderful Athlone Boat Club which has been going now for so many years on the River Shannon and is in the midst of building its hugely expanded and improved rowing centre. Good for them; it is a fine open democratic club, and so many have spent many years there in their young days learning the skill of rowing.
Well done to all our Irish rowers in Poland over last weekend.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all again next week.
In the meantime, stay at home and stay safe.
Slán go fóill.