OK - starter for ten. Which presidential candidate said the following yesterday:
“What I have offered is my life and what I am offering is a significant portion of the rest of my life.” ?
Let’s see now – sounds extreme, doesn’t it? And extreme is next door to extremist. And that talk about offering your life – a hint of blood sacrifice there, wouldn’t you say? And we all know that republicans are the blood sacrifice people, so except you take Sean Gallagher as being a republican – well, he has been a very active Fianna Fail man all his life, and they have taken recently to reminding us they’re the republican party…Nah. Don’t be silly. It’s Martin McGuinness – has to be.
Except it’s not. It’s Michael D Higgins. He’s a very complex man, Higgins. Maybe that’s why he wanted to have a debate with Gallagher, who offers a relatively simple message: vote for me because I can skip really fast and I have a disability. Higgins sees being a faithful Labour Party man all his life (apart from a wild six months in Fianna Fail) as offering his life, which in a way it must have been . Can you imagine yourself having to attend meetings on a near-daily basis with former Stickie Eamonn Gilmore, with not a single Stickie weapon decommissioned?
As if that weren’t enough, Higgins has mood swings. While he was still leading in the polls he was a murmuring, smiling, cuddly little teddy bear of a candidate. Now that Gallagher has passed him like a Cabinet minister’s car on a country road, Higgins has got quite snappy, not to say snarly. No more Mr Nice Guy. Or not as much at least.
But fair play – he’s still prepared to be nice to people even those who don’t give him their No 1. He was yesterday: ‘It’s very important to be a candidate that people can transfer to with comfort and enthusiasm. But it’s not a deal. I think people are very, very wise. They know how to vote”. I think he kind of ruined it with that last bit, wouldn’t you say? – all you have to do is write 1,2,3 etc, and put the bit of paper in the box. Any dope could do that. But there you are. Higgins finds wisdom in the simplest things.
But. But but but. Higgins is not himself simple. He is, as he’s reminded us several times, a man who’s lectured in universities. Even in some American universities. And he has written books. And poetry. Ah yes, Higgins the poet. I’ve never read any of Higgins’s poetry, I’m afraid, and neither, I’m willing to bet, have the vast majority of the very very wise Irish people. So I’m now calling on Mr Higgins to come clean with the electorate about his past. Produce the poetry. Read us a bit of it. And after that we – oh, God, I keep forgetting that thing about us so-called Irish in the north not having a vote – after that you in the south can make up your minds about his suitability as a representative of the Irish people at home and abroad.
Me, I could never vote for Michael D Higgins, even I had one. Which I haven’t. Not because he’s bald (glass houses, etc), not because he’s old (more glass houses) , not because he supports freedom fighters abroad but hates terrorists at home (faraway hills etc) but because in a public place, where there are very probably children within earshot, he is given to using totally uncalled-for language. He did it again yesterday. In a public place, before an audience and with no prior warning, he said that the president could use his or her influence “in terms of moral suasion”.
Suasion. Hands up how many of you have ever used that word in a public place? Sorry, Mr Higgins. No, not that way – that leads to the Phoenix Park. This way. And if you don’t come quietly, we have ways of suading you.