Two men: A GOP prince at the public trough, and Daniel O’Connell, ‘The King of the Beggars’

Eric TrumpEric TrumpLike father, like son. This is not a matter of Republican vs. Democrat or Left, Center, or Right. In more dizzying ways than can be tallied, President Trump and his family are flouting any distinction between the family business and the nation’s welfare. “Welfare” is the key word here: The Trumps are bigger pigs at the public trough than the stereotypical Conservative target: Anyone receiving public assistance, Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, or even Social Security. Case in point: Eric Trump and his latest Irish junket – all at taxpayer expense.

No rational person can deny that the Trumps, as with every president and first family are entitled to Secret Service protection. The Trumps, however, also feel entitled to use the Secret Service as a traveling Praetorian guard on business trips and that you, I, and all American taxpayers should foot the costs to put up Eric Trump’s protective detail in hotels and pay the bill for meals and every other cost that Eric and his brother, Donald, Jr., hand off to the government.

As Eric conducts the family business in Doonbeg and other Irish locales, what is known is that the taxpayers doled out $4,029.85 on limousines and $11,261 in hotel fees for Lord Eric’s Secret Service team. The family and their supporters will not reveal if the Trumps billed the government to house the agents at Trump’s Irish resort. The silence speaks for itself. We paid for that, too. In all likelihood, we also paid for the airfares of Eric’s personal/public bodyguards so that he could conduct family business.

Eric’s taxpayer-funded business featured a two-day stay in Co. Clare at the posh Trump International Golf Links (formerly the Doonbeg Golf Club), where, displaying a pronounced case of foot-in-mouth-disease, elitist tone deafness, or clueless privilege – take your pick – he held a number of business meetings at the property, played a round of golf, and spoke at length to the Irish media. “From a big picture standpoint,” he told the Irish Times and Irish America’s Irish Central, “Ireland will have no better ally in the world than America. It has always been that way, but even more so.” He neglected to add that as of this writing, Ireland’s importance to the Trump Administration is such that the president has not found the time to appoint a new ambassador to the Emerald Isle – nor to some 50 other nations.

Young Trump was just warming up. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, he slammed Irish and humanitarian icon Bono, who, it must be pointed out, did not hold back in his criticism of Eric’s daddy during the presidential campaign. “The American dream was running away very, very quickly. I think Bono got it exactly wrong,” Eric said. “In all fairness,” he added, “it is very easy for Bono to say that the American dream ran away as he sings from a stage for $5 million a night. I mean, give me a break!”
Give us a break, Eric. I guess that your upbringing in a world of private family wealth and tony schools exposed you to average or impoverished folks in some way that Bono and his band-mates, who grew up with none of those advantages, could never grasp. Eric Trump, champion of the common man, also reflected on how his Irish nanny, Dorothy Curry, gave him special insights into the Irish: “So I feel like I have a lot of Irish heritage in me based on her, based on the fact that I was coming over here with her every single summer. And, again, it wasn’t like I was going to Dublin and staying in some hotel. I mean this was real Ireland. She would take a car and we drove all over Ireland together. It was a lot of fun.”
It’s nice to know that Eric knows the “real Ireland” in ways that have eluded the U2 lads.
The price tag of Eric’s and Donald, Jr.’s trips have not eluded numerous critics. At some $200,000 and climbing, the junkets have led Congressman Elijah Cummings to charge that the taxpayers are being gamed by the Trump clan: “The Trump family’s frequent travel to international destinations purely to promote the Trump family business is burning through taxpayer dollars at an unprecedented rate and stretching the Secret Service increasingly thin.”

Recalling a titan’s passing

While strolling along the scenic streets of Genoa on a recent sojourn to Italy, I happened to glimpse a large plaque affixed to a building. Staring down at me was the visage of Daniel O’Connell, revered by Ireland as “The Liberator” and reviled in the 19th century by the Crown and Parliament as the “King of the Beggars.” The statesman, who devoted his life and career to winning Catholic emancipation for his oppressed co-religionists but fell short in his battle to win repeal of the Union with Britain, died in Genoa at the age of 71 on May 15, 1847, 170 years ago.

Aware that he was dying, worn down by his labors and the onset of the Great Famine, O’Connell had set out on a pilgrimage to Rome but made it only as far as Genoa. His personal chaplain, Father Miley, wrote to O’Connell’s son: “…the worst has befallen us – the Liberator, your illustrious father – the father of his country – the glory and the wonder of Christendom – is dead! Dead! No, I should say rather, O’Connell is in Heaven, his death was happy; he received in the most fervent sentiments the last rites, and up to the last sigh was surrounded by every consolation provided by our holy religion.”

Today, O’Connell’s body reposes in a splendid mausoleum in the form of an Irish round tower at Glasnevin Cemetery. His heart, according to his wishes, was sent to Rome shortly after his death.

Like so many of his fellow Irish, O’Connell died far from his homeland, but still burned with love for it and for the poor and downtrodden. He had always refused to visit America because of his vehement hatred of slavery. His doctrine of nonviolent protest and political action foreshadowed that of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., among others. One suspects that Daniel O’Connell, a genuine man of the people, would have scoffed at the notion of the Trumps as friends of anyone beneath the so-called “upper one percent.”