Isn’t “Oaf” a great word?
Without the word Oaf, we’d have no way to describe Brian Cowen or his bumbling successor, Enda Kenny, both of whom have brought the art of bluster to a new low.
Yes, it’s true that Cowen and Kenny are skilled in some ways — both of them are able to hold a suit jacket closed in a stiff breeze, and both of them can talk utter nonsense with a straight face — perhaps because they share a common political heritage. After all, both men are sons of TDs, men from a bygone era when it was possible to snow the Irish people with utter nonsense. Kenny took his seat in 1975 and Cowen in 1984, so that neither of these characters has ever done anything practical in the real world.
These are the men who faced the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the Troika as Ireland’s economy convulsed and collapsed.
Cowen was the one who, in 2008, took his orders from Jean-Claude Trichet and duly placed a gigantic burden on the shoulders of the Irish people, a burden that nobody could reasonably carry. He guaranteed not only those banks that had a possibility of living, but also those that were obviously dead, and he did so on the instructions of those he perceived to be his masters in Europe. As a consequence of Cowen’s decision, we pay out €3 billion every year in promissory notes to cover the cost of rescuing the investors who made a bad bet on the zombies Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.
Partly due to this stupidity and partly due to the profligacy of his administration in previous years, the Irish government became unable to borrow at sustainable rates on the open market and was forced to accept a bailout from the Troika to cover day-to-day expenditure.
When Kenny took power in 2011, he could have rescinded the suicidal decision to bail out unwise investors but chose to follow Cowen’s idiocy, on the logic that we needed to impress our European partners. As a result, all the bondholders have now been paid off and the entire debt is being carried by four million Irish citizens.
Kenny was operating on the narrow parish-pump logic that he learned growing up in Mayo, and he thought the same sort of nod and wink would work in Europe, but he was wrong.
Today, the finance ministers of Germany, Holland and Finland announced that problems like ours are legacy issues. In other words, these things are in the past and it’s up to us to solve them, even though we were intimidated into taking them on in the first place so that the European banking system wouldn’t be endangered.
What’s our leader saying about it? Well, the DNA has kicked in. Enda has gone into Kenny-Cowen waffle mode and it’s back to the future. Enda is right there in the 1950s, shouting from the back of a creamery lorry and he’s bullshitting with the best of them, just like his cabinet colleagues. Black is white, says Enda. Night is day and up is down.
Well that might have worked back when Enda’s dad and Brian’s dad were shouting bullshit at a bunch of half-educated peasants outside the church gates but times have moved on. Enda can preen and bluster all he likes, he can prance and posture in his awkward-looking suit, he can pretend to be comfortable speaking in public when in fact he looks like Christy Mahon in a bad theatrical society Playboy, but people aren’t fooled any more.
The game is up. The truth is out.
We’re stuffed, because Cowen and Lenihan and Kenny were naive enough to believe that we’d be rewarded for being the good guys.
In the real political world, only the bad guys are rewarded.
Fianna Fáíl and Fine Gael. This is what we elected to lead us and this is what we deserve.