AS a nation we have become incredibly precious. That's the only conclusion one could draw from following the national discourse recently. Prosperity seems to have made us self-important, self-regarding and replaced our famous sense of fun with a sense of prissy tut-tuttery. But then, we all know we haven't become a pompous, puffed-up nation.
We all know we haven't forgotten where we came from or lost the run of ourselves. So the only conclusion we can draw is that many of the people who conduct the national discourse have forgotten where we came from and who we are. And have themselves become increasingly precious. We will vote Yes to Lisbon ultimately but probably just barely. But first we had to go through the pomposity of the so-called debate, where every clown with a pen or a forum had some half-baked opinion on something they absolutely, unquestionably didn't understand. But they had their precious self-important opinions on it anyway. As one of the only nations in Europe to require that every man jack of us be allowed to express his opinion on this, we have been subjected to a motley crew of crusties from the far left, mysterious and downright mad people from the far right, and former terrorists and their colleagues preaching to us about things like our precious neutrality.
Our neutrality means that we are allowed to preach to everyone else about how the world should be run but we are too precious to actually have to dirty our hands in backing up our opinions. There was a time when we were glad of Europe to catapult us from being a second world country to being one of the most well-off countries in the world. Now we're too good for Europe apparently. Too precious to muck in like the others. To be fair to the No crowd, we should mention that there was plenty of preening from clowns on the Yes side too, people who have no more of a clue than you or I do about the intricacies of the Lisbon Treaty but who took it as another opportunity to get their mugs on posters and in the papers.
Check out Peter Power TD next to Cowen on the front of the Indo the other day as he slyly makes sure that he is in the photograph, apparently completely distracted from the business at hand. "Vote yes to me, TV's Peter Power," looks like his main message. We're too good for Bertie too. He was good enough for us when he was being probably the greatest Taoiseach we've ever had. But now we find the idea of guys winning money on horses and keeping cash around the place and swapping it for sterling all a bit unbelievable.
Well, at least a lot of prissy journos and posh lawyers, who clearly never bet on horses or kept cash around the house or swapped sterling with friends, find it unbelievable. They obviously didn't have uncles like the rest of us, and they have obviously forgotten what Ireland was like until about ten years ago. Basically Bertie's behaviour was all a bit too Irish for some people who now consider themselves modern Europeans -- except when it suits them.