While doing a bit of rambling through the dusty pages of old newspapers on th'internet, I stumbled across this absolutely hysterical piece of hagiography about Brian Lenihan Jr by none other than Senator Shane Ross, called 'Breeding and Brains of Brian' and published in the Sunday Independent on May 11th, 2008. I encourage you to read the whole thing (here), not just for how startling wrong it was about the man who, less than six months later, destroyed Ireland's future by guaranteeing her insolvent banks, but for Ross's breathless, fawning adulation of The Hero he seems to admire so deeply; the thrusting capitalist hard man who gives two fingers to those fearful, scowling bureaucrats who dare to reign in his natural dynamism by, horror of horrors, exercising caution! Like Conan the Cimmerian in a bad suit, Lenihan the Mighty would pull the beards of those pesky trade unionists; sweep through the halls of the stultified mandarins, leaving paper and dust swirling behind him; and release the awesome, volcanic power of the Irish Entrepeneur! Long would profit and growth reign in the Halls of Erin! Well, not for those who'd have their meagre wages or welfare cut back to the bone in the name of competitiveness, but it's their own fault for not being dynamic enough! Hmmm... it didn't turn out quite like that, did it?
Here's a few choice quotes. My absolute favourite is: "His intellect could one day propel him into the ranks of the immortals in the FF pantheon of Ministers for Finance." Well, he's certainly earned his place in the history books, and not just in Ireland; people the world over will speak of Brian Lenihan Jr in a cautionary tale of what happens to a country when a person, for reasons still not fully known, does something as gargantuanly stupid as guarantee a bunch of utterly insolvent banks with debts running to many multiples of the country's total income.
"Lenihan not only has brains to burn. He has pedigree. He is both mentally and politically fit for the Finance portfolio. He is an egghead by accident and a politician by blood. The Lenihans are a formidable political family. Brian's grandfather, Paddy Lenihan, was a TD. His talented aunt, Mary O'Rourke, and his equally able brother Conor have both held high political office; but comparisons with his father, Brian Snr, a giant in Fianna Fail folklore, are inevitable."
"Brian Senior, although an intellectual powerhouse himself, tended to hide his light under the nearest bushel. Brian Junior does the opposite. He shines it, blindingly, into your eyes. Lesser political mortals do not like being dazzled. Brian's brazen intellect could prove his Achilles' heel. His agile mind has not always made him flavour of the month in the parliamentary party. Some FF colleagues think that he talks down to them. He does not suffer fools gladly. Nor is he eager to mix with them ... His intellect could one day propel him into the ranks of the immortals in the FF pantheon of Ministers for Finance, but could simultaneously hold him back from his ultimate target: the Office of Taoiseach. And make no mistake, that is where he is heading."Update: It's nice to see that, in these turbulent and uncertain times, the Sunday Independent is still printing fawning articles about Brian Lenihan (even after he was voted Europe's worst Finance Minister for two years in a row by the Financial Times). Last week we had some surreally weird drivel from the decayed brain of Eoghan Harris (here) and this week there was a torrent of gush from Brendan O'Connor. Choice quotes:
"He cribbed a bit at the beginning about being made the Finance Minister that was going to oversee the worst financial and economic crisis in the history of the State. And who could blame him? But then, he got up and started fighting. He fought his way into the brief and he fought his way through it -- admittedly with mixed results." [Quite possibly the understatement of the decade, if not the century. Can Mr O'Connor point out to me the positive aspects of Lenihan's policies since May 2008?]
"Cowen was the leader and Lenihan was the one in charge of the economy, which was tanking. But somehow the people loved Lenihan and not Cowen." [The people? What people? Does that include people outside the offices of the Irish Independent?]And the bould Shane was back at it again last week, crying out that Brian should show some gumption and annoy the "mandarins" by appointing outsiders to forthcoming vacancies on bank boards. "So Brian should tell the mandarins in the Department of Finance to stuff it; insisting that he is going to appoint a banker who knows something about banking, an honourable man who is not a Fianna Fail supporter and has never been a member of the golden circle." I find this utterly laughable; the idea that Brian Lenihan, the Minister whose every decision has benefitted the golden circles and privileged insiders, the man responsible for the guarantee and NAMA and the Credit Stabilisation Bill, who comes from one of the country's most conservative and worthless family dynasties, whose father was a close supporter of uber-crook Charles Haughey, is somehow, in his last days in office, going to rock the boat!
But let's put a bit of perspective on this: here's the story of someone who was, indirectly, a victim of the decisions of the likes of Brian Lenihan, and the ruling caste to which he belongs.