Monday, May 19, 2008

... And you thought I was being paranoid

To be fair, that's usually an entirely accurate assumption. But not in this case. In the mysterious case of 'who has it in for Cowen,' I appear to have been right. (Ha!)

This week's Sindo:
Page 1
Disquiet in FF at Cowen 'dictator' style (contd. page 2 with large headline)

Page 2
Opulent Phoenix Park lodge set to become 'Fortress Cowen'

Page 32 (quite a gap, I admit)
There is less to Cowen than meets the eye

Page 33
Cowen has good reason to mind those closest to him

Also Page 33
Taoiseach must play ball if bigger prize is to be realised
(with subtitle: Worryingly, complacency, timidity and waste have characterised Brian Cowen's early days in office)

... AND ...

To add insult to injury - the magazine runs a four-page piece on how ugly, fat and unstylish he is.

Please let me reiterate that I am not, nor have ever been, a Fianna Fáil supporter. I prefer Cowen to Bertie because I believe he is (more) honest, but he is not my ideal Taoiseach by any stretch of the imagination.

Despite this, I'm willing to give the guy a chance. He is entering power at a time of negative consumer and political sentiment:

- The economy is looking dodgy;
- The future of Ireland in Europe is looking dodgy;
- The world is generally not a happy place (see earthquakes and other natural disasters).

He has a tough enough time ahead of him as it is, without making it personal.

I don't believe in making politics personal. While the Sindo spent the past ten years fawning frantically over Bertie, this was an arrangement with which he was obviously happy. And bully for him.

But Cowen is a private man, with a family that deserves some privacy. And the merits of his policies and his suitability to govern should not be judged on the thickness of his lips, his glasses, or his accent (which, by the way, was finely honed at that posh boy factory, Roscrea).

Also, what happened to the notion of balanced reporting? The Sindo "quotes" "several" TDs in its front page article. None of whom are named, and none of whom offer a dissenting view. As a journalist myself I find this disquieting. There are plenty of people who believe everything they read (I was reminded of this recently when I met someone in a pub who believed the Lisbon Treaty meant we would all be electronically tagged). These people don't realise there is an agenda and do not take more than a passing glance at a newspaper - passing, but enough to lodge key messages in their minds. That's how advertising works.

And just when I was beginning to wonder where this charge was being led from... up pops everyone's favourite Marx brother, Willie O'Dea, on Page 27, bringing Lisbon to the people.

Willie O'Dea, who wasn't promoted by Brian Cowen in the recent reshuffle, despite major constituency expectations. And who was severely reprimanded for garnering almost the same (record) amount of votes as Cowen in last year's election, and yet failing to bring in a third seat in a five-seater constituency.

Coincidentally, there is a rather vindictive attack on O'Dea's heretofore relatively unknown constituency colleague, Peter Power, on Page 33. Power got a promotion last week, making 'Limerick's Minister' a rather smaller fish in the city pond.


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