The secret to a long life is knowing when it's time to go
A Taoiseach needs guile, toughness and media savvy, and Cowen just doesn't cut it, says John-Paul McCarthy
Brian Cowen's wheezing interview with Cathal Mac Coille probably stirred unhappy memories in all his listeners, as they recalled similar miscalculations in their own lives.
The figure of a chastened Taoiseach donning his sackcloth and ashes as he trudged towards his public Canossa brought back a more specific memory as well, involving the startling portrayal of Cowen in Bertie Ahern's recent memoir. Ahern recalled the day he charged Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness with PIRA membership. They reacted badly, and began to berate Ahern before the then foreign minister, Cowen, lost his temper.
Ahern wrote that Cowen "eventually stood up and banged his fist on the table. 'You will not speak to the Taoiseach of our country in that way!' he roared. McGuinness jumped up and the two of them stood eyeball to eyeball, neither saying anything".