Sunday 25 September 2016

John Daly: This endlessly boring election campaign badly needs some naked roller-skating

John Daly

Published 20/02/2016 | 02:30

'Images of Enda, Micheál and Joan are just as likely to trespass on my every tormented thought'. Pic: Tom Burke
'Images of Enda, Micheál and Joan are just as likely to trespass on my every tormented thought'. Pic: Tom Burke

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they've been savaged by the proverbial dead ewe? I'm suffering from post-traumatic stress every time the doorbell rings after 6pm. I get that they are doing their bit for the country, but looking over the wreckage of a campaign that has failed to rise above a D-minus, this voter is left singularly unimpressed.

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So bad has it become, in fact, that the voices of dead poets are echoing in my head as I find myself sharing the horror of modern politics with WB Yeats, who observed: "I see nothing but the manipulation of popular enthusiasm by false news."

Indeed, little has changed in 100 years, other than that nowadays our craniums are bombarded by the always-on cycle of Twitter and Facebook to further intensify the torture.

Even restful moments are infested with this infernal virus. The dream is always the same. I trudge home from work, drenched and tired, to discover the door of my apartment is ajar. Approaching cautiously, I gently push it open - only to reveal none other than Mary Lou herself on the sofa. Then, just as I try to get my head around the situation, the bathroom door suddenly bursts open and there stands a furious Gerry, with a ballot box in one hand and…..well, you see why it has to stop.

Images of Enda, Micheál and Joan are just as likely to trespass on my every tormented thought - imploring, promising and beguiling with all kinds of balm for my austerity-ravaged soul, only to awaken to another miserable day of relentless doorstepping.

With Election 2016 finally heading into the final stretch, it can't be just me who feels battered senseless by the remorseless dull, dreary chant of economics, recession and the downturn.

Here's a thought to make politicians gasp in shock at their iPads this morning - how about a little levity to lift the February gloom?

The public are all done with appeals to our wallets - which are permanently empty, by the way - so why not try a whole other tack and aim for our funny bones instead?

It's not as if Irish politicians haven't the capacity for humour, even if it's mostly of the inadvertent kind. How I miss the unintentional faux pas that so enlivened previous proceedings - like Mary O'Rourke's 2006 election remark that her volunteers were "working like blacks", or Conor Lenihan's 2005 jibe to Joe Higgins - "Stick to the kebabs," when Higgins defended the rights of Turkish GAMA workers. Daft, silly, throwaway lines that come back to hit you even though no offence was intended.

Elections in the past were a far more engaging circus, as politicians frequently followed the timeless tradition of tripping over their own tongues - without the craft that now proceeds every syllable.

Bertie was the master of the malaprop. His classic warning to Dáil opponents never fails to tickle: "This is not the time for throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other."

How right he was. And for those who think a touch of ignorance or ill-judged humour won't win you votes - look no further than Donald Trump as he gallops further into the lead across the pond.

"The point is, you can never be too greedy," - a Trumpism ready-made for politics, surely. And, proving that every great man needs a special kind of support: "You know, it really doesn't matter what the media write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."

So, in the death throes of this endlessly boring campaign, why not test the next candidate with a few unexpected questions.

Chances are you'll be happily ensconced and undisturbed in front of 'Better Call Saul' for the rest of the evening.

And if you still need a definition of what makes a true politician, consider these words of the late and lamented Hugh Leonard: "Haughey would unhesitatingly roller-skate backwards into a nunnery, naked from the waist down and singing 'Kevin Barry in Swahili', if it would help gain him a vote."

Irish Independent

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