Wednesday 24 January 2018

Sounds crazy, but don't bet against President Oprah

Oprah Winfrey (Ian West/PA)
Oprah Winfrey (Ian West/PA)
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Could Oprah Winfrey become President of America? It sounds absurd, but considering the incumbent Commander in Chief, President Oprah isn't beyond the bounds of possibility.

As US-based journalist Marion McKeon said on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm): "You can't bet against anything happening in American politics," adding: "Oprah isn't qualified to be president, but politics has become more and more aligned to celebrity. People like name-recognition and celebrities over here; the difference between politics and reality TV gets very muddied."

Matt Cooper reckoned the idea was "ridiculous", and his other contributor, Cal Thomas - a vocal conservative but relatively reasonable one - agreed. Referencing the "Deus ex Machina" motif in Greek theatre, he reckoned: "Americans are increasingly looking for a Messianic figure to come in and fix everything. I think that's the wrong approach to politics, it demeans the profession - and waters down the legitimate subjects that may be boring to a lot of people, but are necessary for advancing any country and culture."

Was politics always a bit bonkers, though? On Bobby's Late Breakfast (Newstalk, Sun 9am), for the very entertaining slot on recent history, Damian Corless looked back to September 30, 1994 - when Albert Reynolds was "stood up" by Boris Yeltsin at Shannon.

Lunch with dignitaries had been arranged for Dromoland Castle; the red carpet was out; Mr Reynolds and colleagues assembled on the runway… then they got word the plane was "circling". An hour later, still circling.

Finally it landed - but Boris didn't appear. It had never been "categorically stated" Yeltsin was drunk, Damian said, but "everyone knew". Albert later diplomatically said the Russian leader may have had "a few too many".

The segment was also, as usual, full of fascinating historical titbits. Lenin and his Bolshevik comrades had "taken lessons" from our 1916 Rising. Stalin died because doctors were too afraid to enter his room and thus didn't treat a major stroke in time.

Barmiest of all, in the 1920s, Irish confectioners came out against "Soviet sweets" - apparently these really were available here - claiming: "Russian bonbons have a very pronounced flavour of hair oil, and will make your mouth smell like a dustbin."

Across the airwaves, tributes were paid to the late Peter Sutherland, former Attorney General and European Commissioner, among many other roles, and recently, Special UN Representative on Migration.

On Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am), ex-Tánaiste Dick Spring - who served in government with Sutherland - described him as "an extraordinary Irishman by any standard, who achieved success in everything he worked on. It was great to work with him as Attorney General; no challenge was too great, and you were always confident you were getting the best legal advice."

He was, Spring concluded, "an enormous individual - both on the rugby field where I first got to know him, and then in politics".

Philippe Coutinho's mind-boggling €160m transfer, from Liverpool to Barcelona, was discussed on Game On (2FM, Mon-Fri 7pm). Hugh Cahill suggested that players are "only a commodity" now.

Eamon Dunphy agreed, saying: "There's a revolution taking place, driven by the money available to some of the players from the Middle East: Qatar, Abu Dhabi. The money being spent by PSG, Man City, Barcelona and Real Madrid excludes all other clubs."

Even giants like Man United, Bayern Munich and "all the Italian clubs" were "out of the ball-game now… It's a revolutionary time, and some of it is bad for the culture of the game."

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