There must have been, at some moment, a realisation in Stasi headquarters in Berlin, in 1989, that their power was suddenly gone. A single fragment of time where the most feared men in Germany, working in the most feared building in Berlin, suddenly felt fear themselves as the mob stormed their headquarters. Watching Fianna Fail collapse into chaos yesterday was like that moment, when one realised that this dominant force not just in politics but in society itself was actually imploding. Where the phrase “He’s very high up and well got in Fianna Fail” no longer is worthy of a head tilt of note but a “Yeah? Well f**k him!” Years from now, when people are asked “Weren’t you a card carrying member of Fianna Fail?” they’ll reply “Yes, but everybody was back then. You had to be to get on. But I never really believed in it.”
But what’s more interesting is watching Brian Cowen act like a member of the Irish parliamentary party of the Home Rule era, trying to negotiate with the old rule book when it has actually been not just amended but blown away. He’s still haggling over the details of a Parliament of Southern Ireland when the real power is now in the first Dail. Nearly every mistake the Taoiseach has made has been because of an inability to recognise that things have changed, and that the old Fianna Fail ways just don’t work anymore. Dev and Haughey brazened things out. They didn’t have to deal with a media and public that could be whipped into a frenzy by a tweet. Sadly, Brian Cowen didn’t seem to have to either, at least, not in his own mind. Brian Lenihan and Mary Hanafin have fared little better, Lenihan managing to transform himself from Mr. Integrity into Mr. Sneaky, and Mary Hanafin from being possibly the government’s best communicator into a “Cake and Eat It” merchant who needs an electronic microscope to explain her position, such is the atomic level hair splitting.
Personally, I have to say, I do get a little bit of pleasure about all this. I remember Cowen as a young buck getting a roar of applause when he told the FF Ard Fheis that when one was dealing with one’s junior coalition partner, “When in doubt, leave them out!”
Once again, a resigning (ex) PD minister bags an FF Taoiseach. How’s that for a hand from the grave? All we need to make this complete are a load of Ewoks dancing around a funeral pyre made up of FF posters.