During the heyday of the Haughey era, when the then Taoiseach was strutting around Paris dressed in the finest Charvet could offer, the Potemkin pretensions were all too much for one diplomat who laughed ruefully and commented, "would you look at him, the little b****x from Donnycarney".
There was a bit of the Donnycarney syndrome surrounding Enda Kenny last week as the Taoiseach sported with the leaders of the free world and Vladimir Putin without once suffering the indignity of being asked to park Mr Putin's car.
Like Haughey, the 'Dear Leader' has come a long way since those days where Pee Flynn would metaphorically ruffle Lite's hair in the manner of a Sarkozy and prophetize that some day, Enda might be a junior minister but Mayo would always be Flynn country.
Though those days are now over, you can be sure the Fine Gael leader has never forgotten Pee ... or Mr Sarkozy.
Last week, however, an adoring media told us in sepulchral tones of awe that Enda actually looked the part by Lough Erne and as an added bonus, there wasn't even a canary yellow jacket to be seen.
Sadly, too many within his own party for comfort, are wondering all too loudly is Enda looking the part, the equivalent of those Potemkin shop-fronts in Fermanagh that were painted over to take the Deserted Village look off things.
Certainly on Wednesday when Enda arrived back from foreign adventures to that land of the un-dead known as the Dail to tend to domestic chores, he found that dismal indeed was the scene that was waiting for him.
On the surface, Fine Gael, in a splintered national political battlefield continues, like the King of Lilliput, to be the master of all it surveys.
However, within Enda's pastel mansion of many factions, the increasingly erratic nature of the Taoiseach's judgement has opened up a number of old and not so old schisms.
Faction fighting may be a nightmare of history from which Enda hoped his party might have escaped, but, recently the tectonic plates within this uniquely quarrelsome party have started to shift.
Nothing epitomised the escalating fault lines within Fine Gael more than the coalition between John Deasy and two of its 'Cappuccino Kids' – Eoghan Murphy and Paul Connaughton – that foiled the plans to bring the Dear Leader the head of John McGuinness.
The intriguing stand taken by Deasy – one of the defeated Fine Gael cavaliers from 2010 who has neither forgiven nor forgotten – and the newly elected young Fine Gael TDs against the machinations of the leader's creatures was a once-off.
But if Enda's ear for internal politics has not been turned tinny by Fermanagh, the great Tetrarch of Mayo will have heard the patter of tiny feet bearing future troubles.
Kenny and his political familiar, the Whip Paul Kehoe, have from the start viewed the desire of 'Kids' such as Eoghan Murphy to experiment with unsafe political practices like ideology with a suspicion last seen in the Valley of the Squinting Windows.
Unsurprisingly, given that nothing in the political life experiences of Enda, Sheriff Big-Phil Foot Hogan or the rest of the good ole boys from the Dukes of Hazard wing of Fine Gael, has prepared them for the phenomenon of ideological ministers, the unease is understandable.
The 'Dear Leader's' concern does have merit for, up to now, when it comes to any link up with their natural allies in the defeated cavalier Bruton faction, the 'Kids' have taken the wise view that another man's wound is none of their business.
But instinctively they are closer to that wing of the party that backed Bruton and change, as distinct from\ the rural 'turnips' who backed Enda.
And the not unreasonable nagging doubt a sly Tudor fox like Enda has is that, given their intrinsic nature, at some point, like Stanley in the Battle of Bosworth, the 'Cappuccinos' could be the force that will make the decisive intervention should it be felt it is time for the Grandfather of the House to be going soon.
The gathering alliance of Bruton's defeated cavaliers and their natural ideological kissing cousins is bad enough.
What may be more serious, though, is that Kenny is also leaking support within the more conservative members of the party who carried Enda over the line during that unfortunate leadership business in 2010.
When it comes to the abortion thing, the party is likely to ultimately lose fewer than 10 TDs and senators.
But whilst tough guy Enda and his 'familiar', Paul Kehoe will whip the rest of the cattle through the gates, the 'victory' will come at a price.
To paraphrase Garret FitzGerald speaking on the election of another autocrat, heavy indeed will be the hearts and even more reluctant still will be the steps of those who will be dragooned through the Yes lobby.
They will vote Ta but not in spirit and they will resent Enda for it and the Taoiseach will have little to offer them in the way of worldly rewards to ease their pain.
Ultimately, the most dangerous faction of all, if they stay, is the rogue white elephant of Enda's embittered senators.
There is nothing more dangerous to a 'Dear Leader' than clever colleagues with bitter hearts and time on their hands to do damage.
Within the senators though, the support, so cheaply won in 2010, and so casually discarded on a whim, has been lost irrevocably.
And significantly Enda now has nothing to break their backs, for if he threatens his misbehaving senators with the loss of the party whip they are likely to laugh and say "small loss there, Enda, sure, you're already abolishing my job".
For now, all is still under control but the balance of power within Fine Gael is, for the first time since 2011, starting to look uncertain.
And, ironically, whilst self preservation is Enda's only core value, everything Enda is now doing to secure his power base only causes it to crumble a little further.
The Taoiseach has carefully constructed a 'chairman of the board'-style nodding, winking, broth of a cheery Western playboy political front.
Amongst those who know politics and Enda, intimately, the realisation is growing that the years of patronising Enda, allied to those unfortunate events in 2010, meant that the Taoiseach has adopted a highly centralised Haughey-style regime of governance.
The insecurities dogging Kenny and his boon political companions such as not so Cute Old Phil and Alan Shatter, about their current high status goes a long way towards explaining the autocratic, 'my way or the high way' spirit of the government.
But, the problem, alas, for the 'Dear Leader' is that whilst the mutts in Fianna Fail have always been enamoured by the cult of the strong man, the Fine Gael culture is somewhat more idiosyncratic.
A party that has too many self-proclaimed independent thinkers is not one that has ever been at ease with the politics of Uno Enda Duce Una Enda Voce.
Critically, the political pillars supporting Enda Kenny within the Cabinet, not so Cute Old Phil, James Reilly and Alan '14 years' Shatter are also now like the sort of bad allies in a war that weaken the central power with their constant need for nurturing.
This means Enda is now dangerously reliant on a finance minister who is assembling a court of his own and whose own time is now numbered.
Oh, and there is Frances too, of course.
How could we forget?
It took a while but Enda's theatre of illusions is starting to fracture.
A Taoiseach whose sole core value is the Bertie one of 'getting into power and staying there' is starting to look strangely vulnerable.
Kenny still retains the support of most of those he promoted, the backbench 'turnips' and those Buttimers who still hope and yearn he might promote them some day.
Beyond that, his support is starting to depend ever more on the prayer that the great 'austerity and appeasement' punt will work.
But if the economy does not lift all political tides, Enda may find himself surrounded by a sea of troubles from an alienated Fine Gael pro-life lobby, the unreconciled exiles from court that backed the wrong horse, a rump of Seanad rebels, ambitious young Simon Coveneys and, most seriously of all, an indeterminate number of rebel Cappuccino Kids.
It's time to start being careful, Enda.
In fact; it's time to start being very careful.
John Drennan is political editor of the Sunday Independent