Election 2011: What the Haskins is going on?
Until last weekend, I was as far away from Ireland as it is physically possible to go without counterfeiting a Virgin Galactic boarding card, with the result that I missed the opening credits of Election 2011. Already it’s feeling like one of those shows you’re either supposed to watch from the beginning or wait for the DVD.
Walking through Dublin city centre yesterday, my eyes gazed inexorably up towards what seemed to be photographic evidence of the fact that not only has human cloning technology been successfully developed, but a single strand of Jason Donovan’s combed blonde Eighties hair has proven enough to manufacture an entire independent candidate for Dublin South East.
I’d always assumed that when most people groaned that they wanted more young people to run for office, there was an unspoken coda: “not if they’re younger than me, obv.” But since then I’ve been reliably informed by several usually reliable cynics that not only is Dylan Haskins old enough to vote for himself, but his desire to hang out with the fetid lifers at Leinster House is generally a good thing for democracy. Breaking into the chorus of Too Many Broken Hearts in his presence is probably already a tiresome cliché.
The sight of Haskins was so unexpected, I arrived at yesterday’s “Jobs Manifesto for Election 2011” briefing by business group Ibec primed for another surprise. Perhaps they would be in favour of increasing the minimum wage back to where it was before the grim swipe of the “National Recovery Plan” (a reversal favoured by Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin). Or maybe they’d turn around and declare: “Forget everything we said before, actually we don’t give a flying FitzPatrick about corporation tax rates. Do what you like, Sarko.”
None of this happened, of course, and instead I spent some time pondering the semantic differences between the phrase “the next government” and the favoured expression of Ibec director general Danny McCoy – “the next administration”.
Yesterday also saw the launch of Fianna Fáil’s election manifesto, and soon it will be the turn of the major political parties. Jet lag, however, means I’m having even more trouble concentrating on the meaning of words and pictures than usual, which is quite alarming in a world where you can open a copy of Vanity Fair and find a portrait of Brian Lenihan captioned “Of Human Bondage” mere pages away from a shot of House actress Olivia Wilde wearing a gown that looks like a seatbelt accessorized with a hanky. In this highly caffeinated state, my main “take” from the Vanity Fair dissection of Ireland by long-term financial-voodoo demolition man Michael Lewis was his brilliant description of economist Morgan Kelly as “puckish”. It peaked right there, for me.
Luckily, I’m not the only one in a haze – even seasoned campaign watchers admit to being stumped by the ever-twisting, beyond-satire logic of Enda Kenny’s stance on television debating. Over the last 24 hours, I’ve also managed to absorb three further – albeit useless – election facts: that Fine Gael has taken an early lead for the cringe award by launching something called a “twolicy”; that Fianna Fáil Dublin Central candidate Mary Fitzpatrick favours the landscape format for her posters; and that not even hardcore sea swimmers are safe from the clutches of canvassers anymore.
I’m off to the Irish Times Election 2011 blog now to find out the rest.