TWITTER: Bringer of democracy to the Arab world — or just bringer of gossip about which Z-List nobody is knocking-off which Premiership footballer?
It depends on how you look at things, which is why our post mega-visits national state of mind could go either way.
You could see the aftermath of the Royal/Barack boon as a great showcase for all things Irish (such as Guinness), as a boost for the jobs economy, and as the emergence of Enda Kenny as a statesman.
But you could also see that despite the estimated €50m free publicity Guinness got from the trips, the first thing its faceless, multi-national, corporate owner, Diageo, did after Her Majesty and His Barackness were safely out of the Gravity Bar was to announce redundancies in Dublin.
Also, the saturation feel-good international focus on the country coincided with Irish bond rates going back above 11% again, meaning there’s no way we are slipping the IMF handcuffs and heading back to the casino capitalism of borrowing on the open market any year soon. Though Enda did well, given that his predecessor only made world-wide news when he was accused by a senior politician of sounding “half-way between drunk and hung over” during a radio interview, even CoCo the Clown as Taoiseach would have been a diplomatic improvement.
So, you can use information anyway you want.
You can use Twitter as a benign force for good — sparking pro-democracy revolutions on the streets of Tunisia and Egypt last February, or you can use it as a venal tool of twisted vanity by falsely posting that a leading Irish politician had died last week, distressing his family and friends.
Anyone left with any shreds of sympathy for Ryan Giggs would have had them blown away by the news he was suing Twitter. This amounted to an announcement of: “Yes, I am so arrogant I am actually going to try and sue the whole of humanity.”
Giggsy overplayed his hand and reaped the consequences of his self-importance.
The same fate will befall the shadowy “Government sources” who were either desperate or delusional enough to claim that Obama would push Ireland’s bailout cause at the G8.
That gathering of the world’s seven-biggest industrialised democracies, as well as the dodgy democracy, Russia (where Putin seems to run everything no matter what his title), is locked down in advance agenda-wise.
Obama already has other priorities for the summit, as he is pushing a new Middle East peace plan, which — surprise, surprise — the Israelis are not terribly keen on; he has finally woken up to the Arab Spring and wants a massive economic aid programme for emerging democracies in the region; and, most worrying of all, faces the prospect of a technical US default being triggered by the fact that American federal borrowing is now at its legal maximum of $14.3 trillion — so the idea of him taking time out to bat for Ireland is nonsense.
Imagine him barging into the G8 with: “Hey fellas, I was down my local in Moneygall with the wife the other day, having a few sneaky pints of Guinness, and we got chatting to this lovely guy — think his name was Enda, or something — anyway, he’s a bit down on his luck at the moment and he was wondering if you guys would have a bit of a whip-around for him.”
But Mr Obama did say he’d be “rooting for us” and “help” us out of the economic quagmire we have got ourselves into.
And while that’s all very nice, it would probably be better if the president told that to his treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, rather than to us.
Mr Geithner was the one who kicked the legs out from under Ireland during the IMF bail-out crisis by insisting we would not be allowed to burn the bond-holders to the tune of €30bn, when it was put to him in a G8 conference call.
Well, that’s the truth according to UCD economist, Morgan Kelly, anyway — and he’s now the only man in Ireland everyone believes on anything anymore.
And who would dare argue with Mr Kelly, as he shakes the nation every few months by lobbing another hand grenade of economic honesty into civil society?
Indeed, Kelly is the only middle-class belief system left in the country. We don’t believe the Church anymore, we don’t believe the politicians, and, unfortunately for me, we don’t believe the press — so that just leaves Kelly.
Such a hold does he now have over us that if he were to turn round and say: “You know what? I think Pippa Middleton looked a bit rough at that wedding,” we’d probably all go: “Well, if Morgan Kelly says it, it must be true, how could we have been so wrong about Her-so-called-Royal Hotness as well.”
While everyone seemed to agree with Kelly’s recent analysis of how we got into this mess, his shock therapy remedy — cutting the budget by €18bn in one year to get straight — was seen as a tad severe.
Do we save that amount of cash by shutting down the entire health service for 12 months, or, alternatively, do we cut all social welfare payments for a full year, instead?
Maybe we were better off in our ignorance after all.
But Kelly has become such an ubiquitous presence in the national psyche, he could now easily be used as a handy bogeyman to scare middle-class children with: “Look, if you don’t go to bed I’m going to get Morgan Kelly to come over and tell you the truth about your economic future, then you’ll be sorry.”
And all this fuss about finding a suitable replacement for Simon Cowell on The X Factor — just get Kelly to do it. He tells it like it is and he’s a bit scary.
You can just imagine it: “No Louis, Cher Lloyd should be the one to go because her vocals were a bit ropey, and her counter-cyclical, regressive economic growth theory was all over the place this week. End of.”
And so back to the grim reality: our visitors are gone after a week-long swell of national pride. You could see this moment as a post-Christmas lull — you had a great, booze-fuelled time with old friends, but now they’ve headed home, the place is a bit of a mess, and, most importantly, you’re stoney broke again.
Or, rather than try and calculate the jobs, tourists, and hard currency the global exposure might bring, we could, instead, concentrate on the tangible positivity that the twin visits made us feel good about ourselves again.
And as the old therapy cliche goes, you have to like yourself before anyone else is going to love you.
Picture: Michelle and Barack Obama sip their drinks in Hayes’s bar in Moneygall: whispers from ‘government’ sources that the US president will speak on our behalf at the G8 are delusional. Picture: Maxwells
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