BEHOLD, the Dither Twins!
Brian Cowen spent the past four days working out whether he was still Taoiseach, or not, while would-be successor Micheál Martin used the time to decide whether to finally make a decision or not (after deciding against deciding, he decided that looked indecisive so launched a sort-of challenge but decided to stay in the cabinet serving the leader he’d decided was decidedly inadequate. There’s decisive decision-making for you!).
Who’s been running the country since last Thursday? Don’t ask the Taoiseach, he’s been too busy having an “excellent dialogue” with those in his own party who want to topple him from office, like his “excellent friend”, the foreign minister.
Biffo And Martin’s Adventure In Excellent Dialogue — the script goes something like this: “You show leadership! No, YOU show leadership! No, you show leadership . . .”
In the absence of Martin growing a pair, Cowen decided belatedly to seize the initiative and challenge himself for the leadership of the party by calling a confidence vote for tomorrow.
But then Martin tried to step up to the mark and said the Taoiseach was such a disaster he’d handed in his resignation from cabinet.
But Cowen just said “no”, so Martin remains in the inner circle of the man he says is not up to the job.
Proving once and for all that Martin either: a) does not possess free will, or: b) yet again manifests the legendary indecisiveness and need to be liked at all costs which has dogged him throughout his career.
As you watch the spectacle of Mr Cowen’s unravelling administration descend further into chaos and disaster, you sometimes wonder if Biffo is in fact a deep, sleeper agent, embedded in the heart of the enemy decades ago by Labour or Fine Gael with the instruction to bring about the total destruction of Fianna Fáil — a rather less photogenic version of Russian spy Anna Chapman discovered at the heart of Manhattan’s ruling upper class by the CIA last summer, in fact.
For those who do not just want to see Fianna Fáil defeated at the next election, but instead wish to see it smashed into 1,000 pieces and scattered to the four winds, Mr Cowen seems to do everything he can to oblige.
Destroy the economy? Check.
Project the communication abilities of a mute hermit? Check.
Turn Fianna Fáil first into Fianna Farce then Fianna Fiasco? Check.
There was a telling scene in the foyer of the Alexander Hotel where media swarmed at short notice for the impromptu statement.
Sweet little old lady: “What’s all the kerfuffle, young man?
Irish Examiner: “The Taoiseach’s giving a press conference in half an hour.”, Sweet little old lady: “Oh, lovely.”
Irish Examiner: “He’s announcing he’s staying on in office.”
Sweet little old lady: “Oh dear.”
Would Biffo ever just get the message and FF-off?
The nation detests him — 91% and rising in the last poll; his own party clearly wants shot of him if there was a credible alternative; and his cabinet is revolting — in every sense.
But yet, he clings grimly to office, trying to eke out a few extra days before the inevitable election wipe-out. Has he never heard of the word dignity?
He says he is not motivated by personal ambition, so what is it that drives him on ever closer to ignominy?
The stubbornness of a small-town solicitor? The lack of self-awareness of an adequate second in command promoted way above his skill set who has repeatedly failed to nail the top job?
Whatever it is, it is becoming not just personally, but also electorally, embarrassing.
And then there was Martin. The comb-over almost immaculate, he chose — of all places, the Burlington Hotel in Dublin’s D4, an epicentre of the property bubble boom disaster — to launch the would-be new-look sleaze-free Fianna Fáil.
He seemed almost overcome by the moment, his hands gripped the podium manically, and his body used it as an anchor to sway back and forward as he finally, publicly, delivered the denunciation of Cowen that had provided the behind- -the-scenes whispering backdrop to the silent coup all week. Mr Martin should have resigned from cabinet before making that statement. Cowen must sack him from cabinet after it.
And the circus rolled on.
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