Connections between Ireland and the United States run deep, meaning many eyes will have been on the Super Bowl clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.
From the razzmatazz of its relentless hype, half-time shows and ticker-tape to the magic of the game’s skill, athleticism and heavy hits, there is something uniquely American in how the NFL showpiece so completely fills the overlap between showbiz and sport. Little wonder so much attention has been focused on Taylor Swift’s relationship with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
The Super Bowl fireworks shouldn’t distract us from the race for the White House, another incendiary contest conducted in a uniquely American way.
Donald Trump, auditioning to be the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, continues to come out with utterly appalling calumnies and insults.
In South Carolina on Saturday he taunted Nikki Haley, his ostensible rival for the Republican nomination, about her husband’s absence from her campaign in her home state: “Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away… What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone.”
It was a typically snide attack from a playground bully emboldened by finding himself in the world’s biggest playground. Michael Haley is in fact a member of the National Guard and has been deployed in Africa; mocking soldiers and veterans ought to be political kryptonite in the US, but Trump and his supporters carry on. It’s a cult, not a political contest of ideas.
Later, Trump said he would encourage Russia to attack Nato allies who “didn’t pay” – another outrageous position, and one which ought to rule him out of office… yet it’s all part of the madness of 24 hours with the man who leads the polls to become president again.
Joe Biden has been wounded by a special counsel report which concluded he was an “elderly man with a poor memory”. Muddling up the names of world leaders was not a convincing riposte to concerns about his acuity.
Perhaps too much is made of the rivals’ ages, especially in the case of Biden, who turns 82 this year, while Trump will be 78 in June.
Age shouldn’t be a barrier to high elected office. For evidence, we need look no further than President Michael D Higgins, who will celebrate his 83rd birthday in April. Venerability and the wisdom of experience can be an asset.
But that is not quite what is on offer in the Biden v Trump rematch. It is hard to get beyond the impression that the American people are being given a choice between two old men; one forgetful, the other unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. America – and the world – deserves a better choice.