herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Enjoy the victory Brian, while you can...

SO now we know. Fianna Fail has full faith in Brian Cowen to lead them to electoral obliteration.

After more than a week of political party madness it all came to a whimpering end for the Taoiseach and his challenger last night.

But the real question which everyone in the Government party has avoided for the past week is when the real people, the ordinary citizens, the taxpayers and the unemployed of this once great nation will have their say.

It seems like a lot more than a week ago that everybody was talking about Mr Cowen's golf links with Sean FitzPatrick and his dismal approval rating.

In the interim, Fianna Fail held the politest political heave in history.

There were no long knives, no grandstanding and barely a rebel yell apart from that of the Foreign Affairs Minister.

But Mr Cowen spent 48 hours moving from radio interview to TV studio to radio interview.

It was an astonishing media blitz for a man who likes to "shoot the breeze" with Seanie and shoot the messengers for telling everyone.

One wonders if this problem would have arisen if Mr Cowen had made himself as accessible during the IMF rescue.

Micheal Martin claimed that the disastrous PR around the bailout was the tipping point when he knew Mr Cowen had to be taken down.

In the past few days Mr Cowen showed people something that has been missing for so long -- he's heavy hitting and not easy to take down. He bruised his opponents not just with his 'no surrender' attitude but also with his intellect. He outwitted Mr Martin, made Brian Lenihan look two-faced and Mary Hanafin appear lily-livered.



REBORN

If only he had taken the same approach with the IMF, faced down German Chancellor Angela Merkel and reassured the bond markets.

Without doing those things it seems unlikely that he can convince the electorate in the same way that he won over his party.

This morning it was 'business as usual' as the reborn and mojo-filled Mr Cowen had an appointment with the Green Party to set out a timetable for the Government's final few weeks.

The only decent thing they can do after that meeting is announce a date for the General Election.

Over the past few days, Mr Cowen has declared his love for democracy and his belief in the secret ballot.

Now the people are yearning for their chance to engage in the process, to have their secret say that will focus the spotlight back on real issues.

Micheal Martin may not have been able to take Brian Cowen down, but it now appears certain that the weight of a nation will be able to topple Fianna Fail.

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