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The sound of one political hand clapping… or how a controversy isn’t quite a controversy until… July 29, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, US Politics.

While the story itself is of basically nothing more than prurient interest (which is to say not at all) the near media blackout on this is quite fascinating. The relevant wiki page is under an embargo, the mainstream media hasn’t gone live with it and it has assumed a sort of half-life on the blogs. Nor was the National Enquirer website available today when I tried to access it. What story some of you may ask. For more, read here.

…and download an enormously entertaining podcast from the Slate Political Gabfest here where tempers frayed big-time over the rights and wrongs of public figures having affairs.

I’m not much of a moralist on this issue, although I do believe that the lack of judgement aspect of it is far from beyond question.

Still, I never cease to be amazed at how people in the public spotlight manage to wind up again and again in ‘difficult’ circumstances. It’s so banal in a way – to see precisely the same behaviour patterns as one will encounter anywhere else played out in a situation where discovery is disaster. Perhaps ‘power’ is an aphrodisiac, but what a waste of time and energy. And I guess an argument can be made that if you’re running for office then it is entirely valid to wonder at the sense of someone who would have an affair, but then again. I guess context is all.

It’s interesting in a way how that hasn’t been an element of Irish public life to the degree found elsewhere. Perhaps that is indicative of a public culture that initially couldn’t believe such things could happen and where subsequently that dynamic became embedded in the discourse to the point of aversion. Either way I tend to think we’ve been reasonably well served by such an approach, although rumours have proliferated, particularly for some reason during the Haughey era, and not restricted to him either.

Isn’t that always the way?


1. sonofstan - July 30, 2008

It’s interesting in a way how that hasn’t been an element of Irish public life to the degree found elsewhere

True. We have clerical sex scandals instead.

Actually, I think the reason no one here- here being the republic- is much bothered by the private lives of politicians is to do with the general low regard in which they’re held. Or maybe ‘low regard’ is wrong, but they are rarely seen as heroes/ objects of desire/ exemplars – hard to imagine an Irish Obama, a Kennedy or even a Blair before the shine came off. We tend to see them as working for us rather than as leaders. Which is probably quite admirable.


2. D.J.P. O'Kane - August 1, 2008

Does anyone remember the case in the early 1990s when the Guards were keeping a Dublin brothel under surveillance, only to discover that one of the ‘clients’ was a senior member of Dail Eireann? A Fine Gael TD if memory serves. The way I remember it, the Guards said there was no possibility of them releasing this individual’s name.

Then there’s Emmet Stagg and his comeuppance. . .

As for stan’s argument about how we see our leaders, well let’s not forget the Great National Bastard himself, CJH. There was more than a bit of the leader cult about that fellow, you’d have to agree. . .


3. sonofstan - August 1, 2008

Well, Emmet Stagg’s ‘comeuppance’ (ooh, er..), didn’t actually end his career, as it probably would have done had he been a Westminster MP, which may go some way towards supporting WBS’s original point.

As for CJH, certainly there was a leadership cult, but i doubt if even his most fervid admirers saw him as a moral exemplar……


4. WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2008

DJP I think that was the 1980s… wasn’t it? Re the brothel.

That’s a curious paradox you point to sonofstan, people knew Haughey wasn’t a knight in shining moral armour. The same with Ahern. Interestingly even if one looks at GFG, he was considered decent and ethical but not necessarily effective – at least by a portion of the electorate – so perhaps our standards are, at least on some axis, quite different as you say the the US.


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