O'Bama's Irish mafia hold US reins of power
Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30
President Barack Obama has surrounded himself with a cluster of Irish Americans now ensconced in almost all the top jobs in the White House, a top US political analyst has claimed.
American commentators have dubbed the contingency "O'Bama's Irish Mafia'.
Stephen Sestanovich, a professor at Columbia University, recently highlighted the strong Irish American team when Mr Obama appointed General Joe Dunford, who has roots in Co Waterford, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He is the third Irish man in a row to fill this position.
Gen Dunford has joined an Irish American team that includes: Tom Donilon, National Security Adviser, John Brennan, Director of the CIA, Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defence, and Denis McDonough who is Chief of Staff at the White House.
Writing in his column for The Wall Street Journal, Mr Sestanovich said: "Don't forget Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry - an honorary Irish American because of his last name, Catholic upbringing, and his Massachusetts political base as a senator".
He also mentions United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power "who was actually born in Ireland!"
Speaking to the Sunday Independent Mr Sestanovich said he has "never seen such a cluster".
"If John Kennedy had appointed such a team, everybody would have noticed - especially in London," he said.
"If all these jobs were held by people of one ethnic or religious group, people would want to know whether there was going to be some bias in decision-making," he said.
"If they were all Polish Americans, you'd definitely hear the suggestion that the administration was anti-Russian," he said.
Mr Sestanovich, who is also senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation in the US, first began to notice the ethnic trend around President Obama, when he picked his second-term team.
"It was an all-Hibernian line up. I really do wonder when Biden, McDonough, Donilon, Kerry, Hagel, Dempsey and Brennan sat around the table together, did anyone crack a smile?" he said.
However, he said, the fact that the massive Irish presence has passed without comment is "kind of proof" there's no Irish American foreign policy agenda.
"Obama seems to favour long-serving, time-tested veterans who've come up in the main institutions that shape foreign policy, whether it's Congress or the CIA. A lot of Irish Americans fall into that category."
Professor Jack Thompson, Lecturer at Clinton Institute for American Studies in UCD, said ethnicity "doesn't really matter that much anymore among white Americans".
Obama's green contingent is "an indication the Irish are no longer seen as set apart from other white ethnic groups," he said.