herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Michael Graham: Don't sweat it, Ireland. We know how much you guys drink and to be honest, we're a little jealous

We only wish we could blame our own President's performance on the booze

TRUST me, Ireland -- we Americans wish we could blame our President's performance on booze.

Instead, he's screwing up our economy, undermining our national prestige around the world and bringing his Democratic Party to the brink of electoral disaster -- and he's doing it all stone-cold sober.

And unlike your Mr Cowen, he doesn't seem to be having much fun, either.

Flattering

OK, so the Taoiseach's cameo appearance on Jay Leno's TV show was less than flattering. But I can assure you that Barack Obama's never going to be mistaken for a bartender or stand-up comic. An insufferably elitist sommelier -- maybe. But Barack the friendly, neighbourhood bartender?

No way.

Here in America, it's fascinating to read in the Evening Herald that Cowen's slurred-word performance on a radio interview might cost him and his government their "moral authority" and undermine public confidence. Really? Ireland's dangerous slide towards a debt disaster didn't accomplish that already?

I'm not qualified to judge Fianna Fail's performance, and there's a case to be made that, when the US and major EU economies are in serious trouble, a relatively small market like Ireland's is largely along for the fiscal ride. But one thing the Irish can say is Brian Cowen is truly a man of the people.

If I were an Irishman watching the politicians in Dublin, I'd be drinking, too. Aren't you?

Cowen's need for liquid comfort, it seems to me, perfectly matches the mood of the Irish people. That's a skill your leader has that our President completely lacks. He clearly knows his way around a pub -- and why shouldn't he?

Whiskey

Times are tough. The easy fix of "borrowing a few more euros" isn't available. Four austerity budgets in a row? What normal human being can take that without a whiskey chaser?

President Obama, on the other hand, always seems to be standing on the off foot. This summer, when his promised recovery failed to arrive, his wife was touring beaches in Spain and the president was hanging out with celebrities.

As the national mood turned more towards Tea Party anger, the Obama strategy has been to lecture us about why such anger is counterproductive, rather than being engaged and guided by the Obama administration to promote his agenda.

Barack Obama looks at America and, alas, just doesn't get us. We're a lot more tipsy Brian Cowen than taciturn Harvard academic at the moment.

Even his fellow Democrats (the ones in swing districts, anyway) are avoiding Obama until after November's elections.

One recently published media survey, for example, found that more Democrats were running ads attacking Obama's healthcare plan than touting their support.

I'm not saying America wants a president who, as one Irish reporter relayed of Cowen, gets so well-oiled at the bar that he can't make complete sentences.

But we're also not thrilled with the guy we've got now who looks as uncomfortable around a bottle of beer as a Taliban member at a sorority girls' mixer.

Cowen's drinking hasn't embarrassed Ireland. The world knows how much you drink and, to be honest, we're more than a little jealous over it.

Michael Graham is an American broadcaster and commentator and the author of That's No Angry Mob -- That's My MOM!

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