Bit late to getting a Cork Irish Examiner membership so missed this moving piece from Alison O’Connor, another in the genre of ‘Area Man Becomes Taoiseach Before Onset of Middle Age‘. Once again, Varadkar’s simultaneously brash and introverted personality is to the fore.
I heard of someone meeting Varadkar at a function. To break the ice, the person said they were from near where some of Varadkar’s down-the-country relatives live. Now, this would be grasped as a golden opportunity for a typical Irish politician to break into a “seed, breed and generation” type of discussion. But the response from Leo? Dead air.
Now, this would be grasped as a rather tedious description of a man with poor social skills. Though one suspects Leo saves his more enthusiastic responses for King’s Hospital Old Boys.
Whereas Noel Whelan was aghast at the mere fact of Leo being young(ish), Alison O’Connor is also stunned by the fact that he actually continues to age.
That is the kernel of what is fascinating about him. He remains a work in progress. As he said himself, at his first Q&A with journalists, last Friday night, he is “evolving”.
Into a Charizard? Or just a slightly different, older version of himself? Like all humans everywhere since forever?
What is (especially) strange about O’Connor’s article is that she seems to be almost about to break into some sort of politically-informed criticisms of the new head of government but again and again is dragged back into her own silly trope of ‘maturity’. For example, Varadkar’s Iona-esque moralising against abortion is explained as an example of his childishness and underdeveloped political sophistication.
The conservative TD and medical doctor, as he was described at that time, in a report in this newspaper, went on to give a really good example of why his colleagues would have considered him immature.
Elaborating on the abortion question and the thousands of Irishwomen who travel to the UK for terminations each year, he resorted to the offensive flippancy that used to be one of his hallmarks. He essentially compared abortion to gambling and prostitution. It was rather a wow moment.
I’m not sure if this is immature or simply an unfiltered and accurate reflection of his own awful opinions. Moreover, O’Connor never states clearly whether her problem is with Leo being in favour of having Lucinda Creighton and Paul Bradford sit on the chests of pregnant women until their due date, or with expressing this opinion in an overly dismissive way. One would assume the former is worse than the latter, unless you’re a liberal whose primary concern is that politics remains a polite, convivial and orderly discussion between technocrats.
It’s always interesting to observe a new leader of the country, but it is impossible to say how anyone, despite their record, longevity, or even their consistency, will perform in that role.
This cretinous banality belongs in the introduction of an undergraduate essay.
The obvious question is whether there might be more maturing to be done, on the job.
The content of this ‘maturing’ is rather opaque. Though one suspects it consists of refining his rhetoric while maintaining and implementing his Thatcherite principles.
Of course, given the media enthusiasm for Leo Varadkar and his 21st Century Politics, we shouldn’t be surprised to find this same fervour reflected by the public.
Fine Gael 29% (+1)
Oh right yeah.