Eoghan Corry: Squabbling, tricks and cheap shots in Cloud Cuckooland
Willie O'Dea gave the speech of the day in Limerick but the real battle was elsewhere. Two days in and Labour has identified Fine Gael as the enemy.
It makes sense. Fianna Fail is so far behind it doesn't matter what Willie O'Dea or Micheal Martin were up to or how much lower and more convincing Brian Lenihan's voice sounded.
A push now and it has pole position when the bell rings for the last lap, appropriately a week after Valentine's Day, when no flowers will have been exchanged between the country's oldest coalition partners.
Elections work like this: the first week is to get the issues you don't like out of the way, like how much it will cost to put the pieces back together again.
Then there's a week of cheap shots and bickering and a final week for a statesmanlike push for the line.
That's where Fianna Fail caught them all last time. Bertie, unbelievably, put on six percentage points in the last six days. Gilmore knows that and is working hard to find out what the trick is.
It helped that Vincent Browne had gone off to play with the kindergarteners, discussing lofty lefty thoughts in lofty lefty voices. He ended up with both Stalin and Ceausescu in the studio as he jousted with the militants but the real action was on Prime Time, where Brian Lenihan, Leo Varadkar, and Joan Burton were getting stuck in.
"We are not talking about the bank guarantee," Miriam O'Callaghan scolded Leo.
"You allowed Joan Burton to talk about it," said Leo.
"I didn't want her to talk about it," said Miriam.
Burton was talking about eliminating fraud in the social welfare system. But it was Leo's evening. He got to sneer, and he does a great sneer.
Brian Lenihan spent most of Prime Time looking like he had been shot. "Everybody else's plan is uncosted and won't work," he said and folded, much as his party did about a month ago.
Over on TV3, Vincent was proving that the breakfast time parodies are never as funny as the real thing. "You are making this up," Vincent said to his guests in turn (but especially Richard Boyd Barrett). "Cloud cuckooland." "Loony."
Sounds like Election 2011 all right. Regime change in cloud cuckooland. They even have camels in the square where the people had gathered, calling for the change of the government. That was us, right?