Jude Collins

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

'He's a drunken moron, and so say all of us'. Or nearly all...

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen gestures at the launch of the Grangegorman Development project in Dublin, September 21, 2010. Cowen said on Monday he would stay in his job and continue economic reforms despite facing the first public calls to quit from within his party since a radio blunder last week. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton (IRELAND - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)

A man I knew studied Logic at university. He was pretty good at it too, got top marks, but the day he left university, he swore he’d never bother with the subject again.  When I asked him why, he said ‘Because nobody else uses it’.

He must have felt justified in his decision if he's been following the coverage of the Brian-Cowen-and-Morning Ireland affair. First there was Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney tweeting that the Taoiseach sounded half-way between drunk and hung-over, then the interview was  replayed and picked over by the deeply brainy pundits of Dublin 4, and finally Jay Leno on his US TV show got a few laughs by referring to ‘the prime minister of Ireland’ as a drunken moron.

Logic? We don’t do logic in these matters. I was asked for a comment yesterday on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback  and I said there must have been two interviews, because the one I heard featured a throaty Taoiseach who said ‘Good Friday Agreement’ when he meant to say ‘Croke Park Agreement’ then corrected himself immediately. Was he up late the previous night singing and doing his impersonations of well-known figures? Apparently so. Does that mean he’s a bad leader? No. Could his critics have deduced that he’d been up late the night before from his Morning Ireland  performance? I very much doubt it.  But that didn’t matter. They denounced him for conduct unbecoming a Taoiseach, for speaking in public with a husky voice (Cowen’s voice is always husky) and for briefly saying ‘Good Friday’ instead of ‘Croke Park’. And finally all was capped by the Jay Leno ‘drunken moron’ remark. Logical? Cheesh.

What’s happened is that the people of the twenty-six counties want  someone to  blame for all their woes, they figure Cowen fits the bill and so they do their level best to kick the stuffing out of him. As a result, he's punished for something he didn’t do (disgrace the nation) because of something he might or might not have done (screwed up the economy).

And as if that wasn’t sufficiently anti-logical, we now have word that a backlash of sorts has set in and quite a few Irish people are feeling defensive about the Taoiseach. “It’s not nice to be calling our Taoiseach a moron!” they say.  The cherry on top of the irrational cake: Cowen gets lambasted for something he hasn’t done and forgiven because the Irish people want exclusive rights on kicking him.

Sometimes we’re a small-minded, crooked-thinking shower. Fianna Fail may not be everybody’s ideal political party, but if we're going to put on the black cap and pass judgement, shouldn't it be on how he's handled the economy rather than how he's handled his non-existent hang-over?

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