A Sunday quiet reigns at the Irish president’s vast white mansion in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Outside the pad, where British viceroys once lived, a couple of presidential aides, beautifully dressed soldiers and I stand waiting for US Senator Bernie Sanders to arrive. There is gentle Irish banter. Cows watch from the meadow opposite. It’s relaxing. Since my taxi motored through the presidential gates, nobody has asked me for ID or put me through a scanner or even patted me down. Sanders’ car pulls up (brilliantly, his Irish driver is called Bernie Saunders) and the senator clambers out, his shoulders hunched, his suit crumpled, his strands of white hair unkempt, not the standard American politician with Botox and a hair transplant. Today he is tieless, too: he has been assured that Irish president Michael D Higgins won’t mind. The tiny Higgins appears, dispensing handshakes and hugs. Sanders is the most popular current politician in the US, according to a Harvard-Harris survey in April...

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