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Monday, January 19, 2009

A day when Dublin and Washington couldn’t be so different

Well it’s the day that Americans have looked forward to more than any other, Barak Obama assumes the presidency and with it a veil can be drawn on the last 8 years of political mediocrity that passed for leadership. Lets be honest, Bush was handed the 2000 election by the failure of the Democrats to win 2 states, Gore’s and Clinton’s. Losing your own turf is unforgivable and yes Bush stole Florida. The debacle about Florida would have been a non-issue if the top 2 Democrats had delivered.
George Bush’s presidency was stumbling into lethargy in 2001. He spent most of the summer on his ranch in Texas and media comment was rife about what his whereabouts and an administration on auto-pilot. It seemed that it looked like another one term Bush in the Whitehouse until that bright sunny September Manhattan morning in 2001. Bush’s behaviour on the day of 9/11 smacks of a rabbit caught in the headlights. Bin Laden rescued Bush’s presidency not once, but twice, on the eve of the 2004 election he issued a tape warning of attacks on the US. This swung waverers behind Bush to deliver another GOP win over a real war hero who’d been softened up by smear, John Kerry.
Tuesday is their chance to wipe the slate clean. How we’d love that chance in this country on the day we mark the 90th anniversary of the first Dail, another day in history when a people started out with optimism for the future. On a day when an Afro American assues the presidency because of a US president named Johnson, we in Ireland mark an event inpsired by his Liverpudlian namesake, Tom Johnson.
5 time zones east of DC things couldn’t be more depressing, one reason why Europeans are enthused by Obama is he gives us a rare commodity in this jurisdiction, namely hope. I don’t believe Obama is any more on the political left than Kerry or Gore, both of whom I believe would have run significantly different administrations to Bush. In politics timing is everything and Obama is the right man at the right time. His tendency to include everyone in his decision making sees Republicans, the Clintons and their allies all on board. If he lets people down then so do they! Smart politics, but I hope for everyone’s sake that he does deliver.

If he wants to see how it pans out when you dither he should ring up the other famous Offaly man Brian Cowen. Exactly a year ago his poll rating was above Bertie Ahern’s now the murmuring among FF supporters is bring Ahern back. It won’t happen. For the modern world’s first republic they may well reflect how far they can go, for us the anniversary of the first Dail may suggest how far we’ve gone indeed whether we’ve moved at all. When you reflect on the aspirations of the Democratic Programme inspired by Cathal O’Shannon and Tom Johnson towards a fairer and equal society one wonders whether their remains in the Mansion House any echoes from the Anglo Irish Bank EGM of last Friday or indeed Batt O’Keeffe will have a Pauline conversion when he reads It shall be the first duty of the government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland. The conservatives in Sinn Fein undermined the Democratic Programme 90 years ago, make no mistake the conservatives in Irish society still undermine progress today. I understand as soon as the speeches are over the Back To School allowance is set for the chop at a prolonged cabinet meeting.
Same day 2 nations one looking up and forward another looking down and out!

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