herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Savage i: All our President has to do is not get drunk

THE most remarkable thing about the Presidential election so far has been the candidates' answers to the question 'why do you want to be President?'

Being President is about proudly living as first citizen of your nation, it is not, as it is being positioned, about becoming some kind of uber-advocate for every marginalised group in society.

Nor is it about 'creating debate'. Rather the opposite. We want our President to get elected and then shag off for a year or two, reappearing only to do something symbolic like wear a hijab or be photographed with someone suffering from a particularly distasteful terminal illness.

So far the candidates in this race are spending more time trying to redefine the role than get elected to it. They've gone to great lengths to tell us about the many hidden responsibilities of the President (the capacity to refuse to dissolve the Dail is cited as the prime example.)

Wow. We can only hope that such tremendous power doesn't corrupt an tUachtarain.

Likewise they've told us about how the President is actually a turbo-diplomat whose charm and bonhomie will make us loved by every foreign government.

And they've tried to convince us that the Presidency is vital to the functioning of the Irish state.

It ain't.

We all know we don't need a President. But as long as the role exists could we all agree to stop asking stupid questions of the candidates like 'what will you do with the role?' When we know there's no real answer.

Let's decide the next President based on the same criteria we've always used; who's least likely to get drunk in public.



People talking is not news

WHY have we all lost sight of what news is? Every time you turn on a radio or TV you get an update on who has been talked to about our bailout interest rate. This is not news.

Talks are not news, they are diplomacy. Just like meetings are not news, they are process.

News is what you get when something results from the talks.

So far our politicians have chatted to the US Secretary of the Treasury, the President of the European Commission, the IMF and a handful of European Foreign Ministers. And each chat has been faithfully reported in media. Yet bugger all has actually happened.

CHILDREN

This fascination with reporting every time someone says interest-rate has turned us into a national version of kids on a motoring holiday; we're all bouncing up and down in the back seat pointlessly shouting are we there yet? at parents who may well be lost.



Don't ask us about finance

BRENDAN Howlin has asked members of the public for suggestions on how the Government can make savings.

He's even set up a website with the catchy address "http://per.gov.ie/comprehensive-review-of-expenditure."

Yep, they've managed to find the only web-address in human history not to feature www in its title. But it doesn't really matter if no one finds it, because the whole exercise is daft.

We all believe someone should ask us, the public, what we think. In almost every situation that's a mistake.

Imagine if a neurosurgeon opened the top of your skull and then said "text if you know which lobe I should poke with a fork"?

PUNTERS

Or if the engines on a plane flamed out and the pilot announced "ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We're heading towards the Pyrenees, if anyone has any ideas, give your stewardess a call"?

We pay a lot of money for professional, specialist people to run things on our behalf and if we punters are better able to do it than they are, then we've hired the wrong people.

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