Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bung in Cheek - Why No-One Can Land a Glove on Bertie

Our LeaderTrevor Sargent, leader of the Green Party, was on Morning Ireland this morning, discussing the question that has the nation transfixed – when is a bung not a bung? It was a chance for the leader of the Green Party to do a Dick Spring, and portray himself as the real leader of the opposition – instead, not-so-clever Trevor chose to imitate Old Springer’s one lasting contribution to Irish life, as Trevor, too, dropped the ball on the goal-line.

Áine Lawlor, asking the questions in that beautiful honeyed voice of hers, gave Trevor every opportunity to take his sword from his scabbard and run An Taoiseach through the gizzard, but Trevor was as Shakepeare’s unperfect actor upon the stage, and hummed and hawed through all his schtick, starting with a botched attempt to resonate with the common man by quoting certain remarks of Trevor’s taxi-driver that morning (the common man takes the bus, T, for your information), and then sinking slowly beneath the mounting waves of fudge as the minutes ticked by.

Eventually, Áine took pity on the wilting Green, and put it to him straight: Ivor Callely had to resign – should Bertie resign?

“Well, I think it’s firstly a matter for Fianna Fáil and the PDs to determine if it’s acceptable … I think the jury is still out…”

Even Minister for Education and Notorious Government stonewaller, Mary Hanafin, TD, would have blushed if she couldn’t have come up with better stuff than that, and she comes to praise An Taoiseach, not to bury him. What was Trevor trying to do?

Whatever it was, he failed, and the great political magician of our times, An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, slips the net once again. Watching Bertie operate is like watching Tiger Woods play golf for money – he’s so far ahead of the pack that one feels he should be made play with a stick of rhubarb off every second tee, in order to at least make a game of it. In fact, so poorly did Trevor attempt to land punches on An Taoiseach An Spailpín Fánach is half-convinced that somewhere, at the back of his head, Trevor is terrified of Bertie not being Taoiseach any more, and the country returning to the ‘Eighties once again. And if that’s not Stockholm Syndrome your faithful correspondent doesn’t know what is.

John Cooney is huffing and puffing in the Independent this morning about Bertie showing disregard for Dáil Éireann by addressing the nation via the caring arms of Dobbo and not the Parliament of our Sovereign nation, but that only for the sake of filling column inches. If John Cooney really believed that, Cooney would never have lasted as long as he has in his mean old business. Six-One News was the only way to go and it was with his characteristic timing that Bertie waited until yesterday, six days after the story broke, before ‘fessing up. Trevor Sergant would probably have rang Joe Duffy as soon as the story broke, the muppet.

Bertie, like Hannibal of Carthage, chooses his battlefields carefully, and this one suited him down to the ground. Because nobody really knows at what stage does a loan become a gift become a bung. An Spailpín certainly doesn’t – An Spailpín spotted one of his best friends a few lids there on the occasion of that man losing his wallet but, when that money was returned on Saturday, should I have claimed interest, and should my friend make a clean breast of it to the Revenue? What is the tipping point at which one should? Nobody knows. The only way this was ever going to endanger An Taoiseach in any way would be if the first revelation was a kill shot. Anything less and Bertie just gets up and walks away, like he always does.

When time passes, last night’s will not even rank as one of Bertie’s top three strokes. The most chilling political stroke Bertie pulled was showing Albert Reynolds his ballot before Fianna Fáil voted for their candidate for President in 1997, a move that would have have made a Corleone proud. But for sheer gall and joie de vivre political, An Spailpín Fánach’s own favourite Bertie Ahern moment was Bertie’s comment to Gerry Barry on the radio one Christmas, in one of those New Year round ups that they do. Gerry asked Bertie about inequality in society, and how he felt about it, or what he made of being attacked on the issue, and Bertie simply replied why Gerry, I’m a socialist myself, you know. The most cunning, the most ruthless, the most brilliant of them all, indeed.

Technorati Tags: , , ,