Sunday 17 December 2017

Forget GUBU, we've now entered the era of Biffoonery

Brian Cowen's recent behaviour reveals the totality of his arrogance and self-absorption, writes Ronan Fanning

This is the resurrection of GUBU -- grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, unprecedented -- political commentators advise us as they try to come to grips with the shambles to which Brian Cowen reduced Irish parliamentary democracy last Thursday. I disagree. Charlie Haughey, despite all the damage he inflicted on the Irish body politic, never treated the Dail and the spirit of the Constitution with such contempt. A new word is required for the political lexicon: Biffoonery.

The provenance is two-fold. First, Biffo, the nickname Brian Cowen has always been reputed to detest as it is the time-honoured acronym for Big Ignorant Fella (the sanitised variant) From Offaly. Second, "buffoonery", which my dictionary defines as "the practices and art of a buffoon"; it defines "buffoon" as "one whose profession is to amuse others by coarse jokes, grotesque actions and gestures and the like". By a happy coincidence the dictionary offers the example of a couplet from the most savagely effective of all Irish political satirists, Jonathan Swift:

"All buffoons have most in view

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