It was a very Irish event.
I got a text warning of Cowen’s press conference while driving, so by the time I could read it there was only ten minutes left. It sounds like almost sitcom contrivance, but both the stereo in the car and the sound card on my computer are out of action. My phone of course only gets radio when you haven’t lost the headphones. I had to find a pub with TV in the next small country town, fast.
The first two I tried were crowded with people watching sports on satellite channels. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting them to switch over to our glorious leader. The third though was empty. No customers, no TV – I wasn’t sure if there was even anyone minding the place. A big funeral was going on at the undertakers’ right next door, maybe they were all at that. But miracle of miracles, there was a little old radio on – a transistor radio, I almost want to call it. And the Taoiseach himself was speaking, though in such vague terms that I wasn’t able to tell at first whether I’d missed anything important.
Then out came the little old radio owner, a lady I could barely see over the bar. She asked me what I wanted and I told her I’d like a coffee. She couldn’t make out what I was saying so she started to turn the radio down. It took a while to explain that I’d actually come in to listen to it. Then she didn’t have any coffee. “Or anyone to make it,” whatever she meant by that. I asked for a Coke instead, so she took down a Pepsi and went looking for a bottle opener. As she hunted back and forth the FM reception faded in and out.
Two old lads came in from the funeral, eager to hear the speech too. They asked me if he was going or not. “Damned if I can tell,” was my reply. It was not until the announcer summed things up after that I finally got the gist. He’s putting a “Back Me or Sack Me¹” motion to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on Tuesday. So the Taoiseach actually called a press conference to announce that there was no news and that he had not made a decision – a first that, surely. Instead it would be up to his TDs.
Could we not just vote instead? It would save an awful lot of time and trouble to skip to the inevitable conclusion. Ah, but that would mean Fianna Fáil leaving power before they’d finished sharing the country out among themselves. And what is politics for after all if not looting?
What amuses me is trying to picture FF’s internal machinations. Clearly just about every one of them wants Cowen to go in the hope that it will save their seat. (It almost certainly won’t, but it’s the only hope they’ve got.) However, there isn’t one among them who wants to lead the party into what is virtually certain to be its greatest ever electoral defeat. So they all want someone else to do the ousting. You can see them, can’t you? Furiously playing a game of Pass The Poison Chalice. This leads to political acrobatics of the first order, as prominent party members deny in public that they want the Taoiseach’s job, while hinting to their colleagues that they might be willing to take on the Taoiseach’s job, while secretly not actually wanting the Taoiseach’s job.
What strange times, when politicians are forced into inadvertent honesty. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so depressing. To cheer you up then, here is some footage of cats in space.
- “…Or Crack Me”, as someone on Twitter creatively added.