I recently had a discussion with a politically astute pal as to who would be the dream candidate for Taoiseach in the current crisis. We tossed around various names, many from outside politics, until she hit the nail.
” Of course, if the real Brian Cowen were Taoiseach, he could do it.”
That’s the thing. We’d both seen Brian Cowen, before he became Taoiseach, speak in private, without notes. He was thoughtful, inspiring, and did that thing that Fianna Fail ministers always shy away from. He showed how smart he was. I went into the meeting with a low opinion of him, and came out thinking that this guy could be The Guy. He wasn’t Obama, but he wasn’t a million miles away either.
It’s no secret that I’m not exactly Fianna Fail friendly, but I would hope I’m not just a knee jerk anti-FFer either. If Fianna Fail changed, I’d give it a second look, but that means Brian Cowen taking the leash off, and deciding what matters. The country, or Fianna Fail.
Take junior ministers. Cutting the number of junior ministers will save buttons, and severely piss off the FF parliamentary party. But it will send a message to the country about how serious things are. Brian Cowen can be a popular leader within Fianna Fail, or he can be Taoiseach. I’m not sure, in the current climate, if he can be both.
Sometimes, there are things more important than getting re-elected. Ask David Trimble. He destroyed his own party in the process, but history will remember him as a man who paid a sacrifice for peace, and Ian Paisley as the man who always took the easy option.
David Trimble, Sean Lemass, Captain Terence O’Neill, Harry S. Truman, or F.W. de Klerk were all very unpopular when they left office. But when history judges them, it will judge them all as men who stood up and were men when they had to be. Brian Cowen has the ability to do the same.
On a lighter note, there’s always a bit of fictional inspiration to be had here