‘But Taoiseach, I coulda been a contender’
Deaglán de Bréadún
Taoiseach Brian Cowen will be dropping at least five of the current crop of 20 ministers of state in the coming hours and the conversation may go something like this exchange between would-be boxing champion Terry Malloy and his big brother Charlie, who has other priorities.
Adapting the script from On the Waterfront, with Brian Cowen as the Charlie/Rod Steiger character and the newly-dismissed officeholder as Terry Malloy/Marlon Brando, who laments the fact that the Taoiseach never gave him a proper chance to display his great talents, the exchange could be along the following lines:-
Cowen: You coulda been another Micheál Martin or Dermot Ahern, but my predecessor, that ludramaun Bertie Ahern, he brought you along too fast.
Ex-Minister of State: It wasn’t him, Brian, it was you. Remember that night in the Dáil you came down to my office and you said, “Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the senior minister in that debate. ” You remember that? “This ain’t your night”! My night! I coulda taken Fine Gael and Labour apart, not to mention those goddam Shinners! So what happens? The senior guy gets the title shot in the Dáil Chamber and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my Taoiseach, Brian, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take a back seat when that gomaloo was reading his prepared script.
Cowen: Oh I had some scripts written for you. You saw some Dáil time.
Ex-MoS: You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Taoiseach.