You think it’s over? It’s not over… February 25, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
Those of us who have logged onto Déirdre de Búrca’s website this last day or two were not entirely surprised to see her working away at keeping the pot boiling… not entirely. Somewhat surprised. But… not entirely.
I’m wracking my brains to think of a similar case where an Irish politician who resigned so publicly attempted to continue to keep the issue of the resignation in the public mind. To – as it were, and to paraphrase the old jibe about the Labour Party 1983 Election Manifesto being the longest suicide note in history, communicate the longest resignation note in Irish politics. So long it has been arriving in installments.
I can’t think of one. In fact I can’t think of one in the UK or further afield either. It’s a sort of l’esprit de l’escalier writ largish.
This seems to be something that could only happen in a period where the means of communication were readily available to all and sundry. A politician, or a former politician, waging a sort of low intensity net conflict against her former colleagues.
But it also points up some of the shallowness of that communication – and I don’t exempt the CLR from this analysis one bit.
There is something about having a public platform, unlike any other in history, the fact that it can be accessed by anyone with a computer connection, that can paradoxically lead to a disconnect. It’s a sort of cosmetic levelling effect in a sense. I’d put it this way. The ubiquity of it, that it can be accessed almost anywhere on many different forms of devices from hand held ones to desktops to televisions. The fact that the format is so similar, albeit not uniform – your Irish Times appears in precisely the same rectangular space as A.N.Other Blog – means that some people may begin to believe that their words assume an equal level of truth or veracity – a belief which is, when one thinks about it for any length of time, absurd.
It can be true – perhaps. But it all depends. And while I know this is hugely self-evident, one of the reasons we invest a slightly greater degree of legitimacy in the Irish Times (I know, I know, caveats apply when it comes to commentary) is that they operate more or less – and sometimes less, as somewhat objective third parties (I know, I know, caveats also apply as regards that!). Straight from the horses mouth doesn’t have that cachet. It can’t unless the evidence is unequivocal. And when it gets into complex ‘she said, he said’ back and forths…
Moreover that very similarity of format means that much that is written is unread. There’s too much of it. It doesn’t, simply by being online, have any greater legitimacy, nor does being on-line accord it a dignity it would not have in other circumstances. I don’t, however, want to say that it is entirely trivial. Within niche groups we afford greater or lesser importance to specific sites. But even there most of us are aware of how subjective, how rooted in commentary they are. That’s no bad thing. Commentary provides the emotional charge that can inform dry facts. And it can engage and infuse something like ‘trust’ which comes from a relationship we develop with sites. But, can anyone seriously contend that there are many sites run by politicians which they have developed such a relationship with?
Nor, and this is where I think the current de Búrca postings are telling, does referencing other sources – even supposedly more credible ones – per se strengthen an argument (and it could be that this shift indicates the well is dry in terms of further interesting material).
But, and here’s a further paradox, chances are the more she continues, at least in the short term, that self-same media will pick up on her words – again assuming she has more pointed and intriguing material to offer. Because the media wants something to write about.
Where will this sorry tale end – she asks?