Last night, unexpectedly, I was called by Newstalk’s Breakfast Show and asked how I thought the electorate were reacting to the personal attacks between Enda Kenny and Bertie Ahern.
Firstly, I pointed out that my record of reading the mind of the electorate is similar to my success at becoming heavyweight champion of the world. Then I said I thought the opposition were now raising the question of the Taoiseach’s inability to produce a tax-clearance certificate for one reason- he’s in South Africa.
There can be few politicians more skilled at reading the mood of the electorate , and his party colleagues, than Mr. Ahern. But send even a mood-reading genius to the other side of the world and he’s going to have difficulties. The Taoiseach doesn’t know how these attacks on his exposed flank are going down. Most importantly, he doesn’t know how many heads might be quietly nodding on the FF benches. That’s why, despite his spokesman telling journalists that he wouldn’t take questions on domestic affairs, he had to hit back hard.
And, for the moment, that’s the best outcome for the opposition. The more he reacts, the more attention these seemingly unanswerable questions get. This is a method of baiting the Taoiseach while he’s vulnerable. Because taking a holiday away from your troubles always sounds attractive but, as Mikhail Gorbachev can attest, you never know what you might be coming home to.