What’s stuck in Cowen’s craw?
And so to Tullamore this morning for a doorstep interview with the Taoiseach.
It was a bit of a turas in aisce. Okay he has to play with the deck of cards dealt to him by the gaggle of reporters. But boy he surely must have put in a lot of effort to achieve such indifference.
Later he did a long interview with Collette Fitzpatrick on TV3. He answered all her questions and was unfailingly polite. But on some of these occasions (the Late Late interview included) he makes John Major appear like Freddie Mercury by comparison.
And then this morning, immediately after giving a lacklustre doorstep interview with juggernaut sentences, Cowen walked into the factory he was opening, threw away the script, and unchested himself of a great little speech about backing our own and not being so afraid of risk aversion.
That made me laugh. Cowen is the very definition of risk aversion. The way he likes to spin it he is unspun. But he’s not that. He’s a mollusc that remains unopened. His suspicion of the press, his natural disposition to reveal as little as possible, his defensiveness in public are all flaws that remain problematic.
It’s only when he’s in debating mode or telling a yarn to friends that he can summon up the requisite energy. He might talk about hope and optimism but his very demeanour and poise betray the lack of it all the way.
As I drove back to Dublin I was thinking of the innate caution and risk aversion that makes his criticism of bankers actually sound like praise.
Later I read Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times. And he could have been giving out about Cowen but was giving out about Obama of all people! It was that kind of day! Below is the extract!
“All I can think is that this was another example of something we’ve seen before: Mr. Obama’s visceral reluctance to engage in anything that resembles populist rhetoric.
And that’s something he needs to get over.It’s not just that taking a populist stance on bankers’ pay is good politics – although it is: the administration has suffered more than it seems to realize from the perception that it’s giving taxpayers’ hard-earned money away to Wall Street, and it should welcome the chance to portray the G.O.P. as the party of obscene bonuses.
Equally important, in this case populism is good economics. Indeed, you can make the case that reforming bankers’ compensation is the single best thing we can do to prevent another financial crisis a few years down the road.It’s time for the president to realize that sometimes populism, especially populism that makes bankers angry, is exactly what the economy needs.