It’s probably unfair to suggest that the race for The Áras has failed to arouse the nation’s imagination. In fact, it has been the most dysfunctional presidential election campaign in our nation’s short history of such campaigns.
Our election campaigns are in the process of being Americanized. Negative electioneering has been slowly imported by Sky News and random reports from gleeful RTE correspondents in Washington, who got to say sex and politics in the same sentence without fear of demotion as regional correspondent to Longford.
Our national print publications have seen fit to carry on this mildly amusing car crash, but ultimately depressing type of electioneering in what’s amounting to not so much as a race to the bottom, but a hurtling from the top of Liberty Hall with nothing on but a leopard skin mankini.
We have it all in this election and as I write this, the stories and non-stories emerge by the tweet. We have our seven presidential dwarves, these dwarfs go beyond the imagination of any Disney fairy tale. We have Quango Queen, NonTerrorist, Sarah Palin-Lite, Boring, Yoda, Shouty and Fianna Fáiler.
All in their own unique way causing controversy, offense and mirth to anyone with the intellectual capacity to form a political opinion on everything the mating habits of Shinners, to whether Mary Davis was right to put her daughter on her election posters passing her of as herself. Or not, of course.
Let’s have a closer at our seven political dwarves…
Mary, Mary, quite contrary how do you look so young? Welcome to 21st century electioneering, kids. No, not social media. And definitely not Photoshop.
No one minds the odd touch up in election literature, the darkening of greying hairs the removal of a double or a triple chin. Knocking a couple of years of one’s election posters is expected, but going so far as to go back to the last millennium is pushing the boundaries of our cynical minds.
Our cynical minds, it seems, are all ready made up on Mayo’s most famous export since the Corrib gas field. Davis’ membership of 1,685 various quangos, state boards and directorships has left a bad taste in some voters’ mouths.
Her uncanny mimicking of another famous Mayo Mary right down to her use of body language and style would make one wonder did Fergus Finlay have more involvement in her campaign other than giving her a ringing endorsement….
… our most controversial candidate by an Áras mile. The only man who seems to have more questions asked about his past than Jesus. Like Jesus, Martin is a man of peace, love and forgiveness. Or, so his legion of devoted acolytes would have you believe….
And if you don’t believe, then you’re bigoted Southern who just can’t move on from the small issue of his past membership of an organization that insisted on murdering women and children.
The little matter of the intimidating manner in which Sinn Fein engage in with all who dare to question them has left a lot of voters feeling edgy for flirting so openly with such a grey man.
Martin Mandela’s online supporters have been quite aggressive, so much so they seem to have damaged him more than his bloody past. One wonders if elected, will we find wild herds of Celtic-jersey-wearing, hooded Shinners stalking the pastures of the Phoenix Park alongside its famous fallow deer?
The big question among political gossips is what was Sinn Fein thinking in putting him forward, did they really think questions about his past were not going to arise?
Interestingly enough, the two people that would be more inclined to cause a constitutional crisis are from Derry.
Dana’s reality TV style breakdown on the Prime Time debate will be replayed for years to come. Her campaign has been riddled with lurid accusations in her family history. Stories that allege sexual assault, money problems and cover ups would seem to indicate a more colorful private life than the homely devout Catholic mammy she portrays.
The recent allegations that her famous Eurovision winning song “All Kinds of Everything” was metaphor for the sexual peccadilloes of the swinging Sixties will not endear her to the devout Catholic bloc that is her core vote.
Dana’s random waving about of our constitution and her religious-like devotion to it is mildly amusing at best and at worst may force other candidates to start wearing safety glasses, less they lose an eye.
Dana’s campaign has indeed shown us is she is all kind of everything…. Nothing there that will win her the presidency, though.
Poor Gay, literally. One wonders did Frank McCourt ghost write Angela’s Ashes on his behalf.
It seems that Gay’s most grave sin is that he is boring. No skeletons here metaphorical or real. His testy griminess seems to mirror a nation’s mood and when Ireland looks in the mirror these days, we don’t like what we see.
Not liberal enough, not right-wing enough. Gay’s only chance of setting the nation alight is if he got his hands on a thermonuclear bomb and detonated it under Brendan O’Connor.
More interestingly, could Enda struggle to hold on to An Taoiseach’s seat, if Gay fails to hold on to his deposit?
Michael D Higgins
The wise old man of Irish politics….
Michael has been around a long time. He started out his career as political advisor to another Mayo woman, Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley (what is it about Mayo women). Successfully advising her in negotiations with Queen Elizabeth the 1st.
He also once joined Fianna Fáil, but in his wisdom left long before it became fashionable to do so.
Not only is Michael Twee the most homely, soothing grandfather-like of all the candidates to balm our post-Celtic tiger mauling, he is also a far shrewder political operator than people give him credit for.
Exhibit A – when Norris was chasing the required four council nominations was in the process of going to Dublin City Council. While it may have been tight, but Norris was likely to win it… And then Michael Twee asked the Labour Councilors to facilitate the Norris nomination. Looking eminently statesmanlike and magnanimous. One of the finest political stunts to be seen in recent times.
One wonders what James Joyce would have made of Senator Norris ill-judged and ill-worded letter-writing activities. Probably not a whole lot, like the rest of the nation judging by the latest polls.
The Norris and Norrisettes war cry of let the nation decide always had a touch of the “Gilmore for Taoiseach” slogan. Just a little bit unbelievable.
We all nodded our heads sagely and reckoned it might not be such a bad thing to have Norris as our president. Then those letters surfaced and we all nodded our heads sagely once again and said, told ye so.
While we all patted ourselves on the back and said look how mature we are to put an openly gay man on the ballot paper. Secretly we were wondering is he going to have a fella over to the Áras.
In years to come political scientists will be giving lectures on how not to run an election campaign and Norris one will feature prominently. The Norrisettes war cry of let the nation decide has come to pass it would seem and the nation as said no.
Being a Grant Mitchell look-like or his Dragon’s Den business investments or lack of are the least of this former Fianna Fáil executive member’s worries.
The more he denies his involvement in Fianna Fáil activities, the more stories of how deeply involved he was come to light. The crux of the issue is not that he was a Fianna Fáil member, after all leaving Fianna Fáil these days is similar to the Count Me Out campaign where one formally leaves the Catholic Church.
It is the vehemence in which he has denied them, akin to St Peter denying Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Alas our Jesus as been betrayed by the Jdas Kiss that has been the wholehearted gleeful canvassing by current Fianna Fáil members for Sean Gallagher around the country.
In these days of global information where every local newspaper in the country is online poor old Grant had been caught out as recently as the last election launching Fianna Fáil TD Dara Cleary’s election campaign.
Fianna Fáil senators have got in on the act, claiming they never met the Dragons Den fella, as Thomas Byrne told the Vincent Browne show recently, unfortunately for Byrne up popped this video.
Twitter wisdom would have you believe it is a vast Fianna Fáil conspiracy to take the Áras by stealth. Unfortunately for Fianna Fáil there is no one left within the party with the brains to conspire so such a dastardly act.
So these are our candidates. They have all promised us an Áras will be inclusive and equal, promising to shine light into the darkest corners of wherever our darkest corners are. To boldly go where no man or woman has gone before and create an Aras that is not about shaking babies, kissing hands or giving hugs. Apparently President McAleese gave good hugs…
Maybe someone will shine a light on the candidates and explain exactly the limits of power our President has….
This post was first published on http://election.ie/