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Ivan Little

Time the men in white coats paid Donald Trump a visit in the White House

Ivan Little


Donald Trump's lost his marbles if he really thinks he's been cured of Covid

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Donald Trump's helicopter lands at the White House

Donald Trump's helicopter lands at the White House

AP

Donald Trump's helicopter lands at the White House

Forget The West Wing, House of Cards, 24 and Designated Survivor.

None of the cult American TV series that stretched credulity about the machinations of the White House can hold a candle to what happened in front of our eyes with Donald Trump last week.

I used to spend hours engrossed in implausible storylines in box-sets of 24, with Jack Bauer saving a string of presidents and the American nation before Kiefer Sutherland swapped roles to become the commander-in-chief in another gripping series, Designated Survivor.

Many a happy wee small hour was spent watching Kevin Spacey playing a president before the seedy actor brought his House of Cards tumbling down.

But none of the fantastic fantasy stuff seemed quite as far-fetched as the real thing last week when CNN captured the surreal scenario of the Donald's choreographed departure from hospital and return home.

I did a lot of flicking around the channels before settling on CNN, whose exasperated host Erin Burnett guided us brilliantly through the footage of the latter day Lazarus rising from his sick bed just days after he'd been admitted to hospital for coronavirus treatment.

It was pure Hollywood hoopla as Donald ducked out of the hospital to catch his helicopter back to the White House.

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President Donald Trump boards Marine One as he leaves the White House to go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Donald Trump boards Marine One as he leaves the White House to go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre (Alex Brandon/AP)

AP/PA Images

President Donald Trump boards Marine One as he leaves the White House to go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre (Alex Brandon/AP)

The only surprise was that he didn't walk on water back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Commentators were left to marvel at all the experimental medications that had been pumped into Trump's rump, with the only thing missing from the list appearing to be bleach.

What a pity the Walter Reed hospital didn't have a cure for all the lies that Trump's people were telling about him. It seemed even the doctors had caught the fakery bug.

I had wondered how Burnett would respond. After all, she was once a judge alongside Trump in his Apprentice days. But she didn't pull any punches.

At one point after Trump's departure she said pithily: "What we are seeing here really looks like something out of North Korea."

After Trump landed at the White House, it was clear she thought he'd lost the plot. It's to be hoped he won't lose his pilot, who must have been uncomfortably close to his virus-hit boss.

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President Donald Trump on the balcony outside the Blue Room after he returned to the White House on Monday (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Donald Trump on the balcony outside the Blue Room after he returned to the White House on Monday (Alex Brandon/AP)

AP/PA Images

President Donald Trump on the balcony outside the Blue Room after he returned to the White House on Monday (Alex Brandon/AP)

Trump, who had refused to answer journalists' questions about whether or not he was a super spreader of Covid-19, tried to return to the White House looking like Superman. He whipped off his mask, pumped his fist in the air and gave a salute.

My wife asked me who he was saluting, and I said it was his departing helicopter. To which she replied caustically that he had always appeared to be fond of his chopper.

It was apparent that the preening president was gasping for breath, even though he was claiming to be fine.

Over the next few days he seemed full of hot air, especially when claiming that he had been cured and his contraction of the virus was a blessing from God.

The slick video of his journey, produced at the White House, where all the president's men and women were dropping like flies, only had one thing missing: a Van Morrison soundtrack.

As I watched the presidential shocker get steadily worse over the week, I couldn't help but agree with Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen as he talked the talk with his suggestion that the president should walk the walk from the White House with a little push from the 25th amendment.

Sadly, however, it's not that simple. I mean, who is going to do the right thing and use the amendment to remove him from office, even though as each day goes by he sounds more and more like a man with severe mental problems?

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With two bandages on his hand, President Donald Trump removes his face mask (Alex Brandon/AP)

With two bandages on his hand, President Donald Trump removes his face mask (Alex Brandon/AP)

AP/PA Images

With two bandages on his hand, President Donald Trump removes his face mask (Alex Brandon/AP)

How else could anyone explain his call to the American people to not let the virus dominate their lives when it's actually ending the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on the other side of the Atlantic?

All of Trump's recent utterances point towards the need for the men in the white coats to be sent posthaste to see to the man in the White House.

My concern as we obsess about the Washington mess is that we could lose sight of our own coronavirus crisis as we hurtle back towards lockdown.

Despite what Trump's chum Boris says, there's little or no doubt that it's coming.

The revelation that infection rates in Northern Ireland are among the worst in the world was truly chilling.

Even with tighter restrictions being introduced in hotspots such as the Derry and Strabane council area, the graph is still going in the wrong direction.

The sense of hopelessness surrounding the coming winter is truly terrifying.

During the first lockdown we sustained ourselves with the hope of a new dawn.

Now, however, it looks as if that was a false one.

Viv's debt to Eddie Van Halen

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The world of music has been paying tribute to Eddie Van Halen (AP)

The world of music has been paying tribute to Eddie Van Halen (AP)

The world of music has been paying tribute to Eddie Van Halen (AP)

I see Lisburn's Vivian Campbell has been paying tribute to US guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who died last week.

Vivian, who plays with Def Leppard, talked passionately of what he had learned from his guitar hero.

What I learned from Eddie was never to trust your ears.

For years I thought one of his biggest hits went “Maxwell jump” until a workmate told me the words were “might as well jump”.

The mix-up got me thinking about the other lyrics I have misheard in my life.

Another favourite was from the Jim Reeves song He'll Have to Go.

I thought he was singing “put your sweet lips a little closer to the foam” until my brother pointed out that the last word was actually phone.

And then there was Bonnie Tyler's It's a Heartache, not “it's a hard egg”.

A friend thought Marvin Gaye was singing “I heard it through the gate, Brian” rather than grapevine.

Shadow NI Secretary has work cut out

I knew I knew the face, but it was only after she breezed past me in the Stormont Hotel that I remembered I'd seen her the day before in the House of Commons attacking the Government over the impact Brexit would have on Northern Ireland.

Louise Haigh, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, was leaving a meeting with promoters trying to save the live entertainment business. Good luck with that one.

Farewell Chris, the original spin doctor

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Much missed: NI journalist Chris Ryder

Much missed: NI journalist Chris Ryder

Much missed: NI journalist Chris Ryder

Purely by chance, I found an online article by Chris Ryder just days before he passed away last week.

It had nothing to do with politics or policing, two subjects on which the superb journalist was an undoubted expert.

No, this was a brilliant account of Chris's little-known days as a youthful DJ at lunchtime dances in the Plaza in the 1960s.

Chris's memory for detail was extraordinary. I bumped into him when I was filming a piece for UTV to mark the anniversary of Bloody Friday. I asked Chris if he'd been in Belfast that fateful day. Not only was he there, but he remembered everything about the IRA atrocity without consulting a single note.

Chris also wrote a magnificent piece for the book Reporting the Troubles, which Deric Henderson and I compiled in 2018.

Chris told how, during a clandestine rendezvous with former IRA leader Seamus Twomey, troops burst in but didn't recognise one of Ireland's most wanted men.

How sad it was that Chris passed away so soon after the death of Sir Harry Evans, who led the Sunday Times' Insight team, of which the Belfast man was an integral part.

My condolences to Chris's devoted and caring family.

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