Monday 20 November 2017

This new Pope can wait as Obama stays in Washington for annual bowl of shamrock

Lise Hand

Lise Hand

THIS may just put a hex on the whole hoohah, but the question must be asked. This Paddy's Day in the White House lark – what on earth is in it for President Obama at this stage?

Understandably, a first-term president would be wary of causing offence to the almost 40 million citizens of America who claim Irish descent and who might collectively take the hump and vote for his opponent next time around, but now Barack is safely installed for the second time.

So what's to be gained by having quite a sizeable chunk of his day occupied by playing host to the Taoiseach, first in the Oval Office, then at a big lunch on Capitol Hill and finally at an evening bash in the White House? For this year the US president had a perfect excuse to pull the plug and rain on the Paddy's Day parade. He could've joined the other world leaders in Rome for the installation mass of Pope Francis – the first pontiff from the Americas – and sent his regrets to Enda. Or he could've let Joe Biden stand in for him at the shamrock ceremony, as the vice-president has a bit of a gra for the Irish. But he didn't make his excuses and leave for the Eternal City and welcomed the Taoiseach.

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