No, no: please, please, not a seven-week election campaign. That's as long as it took for the Soviet army to conquer both Vienna and Berlin. But whether it lasts seven weeks or seven hours, I won't be covering the election. It's simple.
Elections give democracy a bad name. And writing about campaigning politicians is like describing a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Beverley Hills. A three-letter word sums all politicians up perfectly. It is E-G-O.
We need men who are not averse to working with human faeces to become plumbers. Similarly, we need other men who are willing to stick their fingers into a high-voltage system that connects them directly and lethally to the nearest multi-million kilowatt power station to become electricians.
So it is that we need another irrationality called E-G-O to cause people to enter political life, and to attend endless meetings, and to work their preposterous compromises. E-G-O is, of course, the one motivation that politicians always disavow. "I want to serve"; "I thought I could make a difference"; "My family were always very political". It's all rubbish, of course. It's all about E-G-O.
Alas, E-G-O is not the only trinity in Irish political life. The other is of the three Cs: cowardice, consensus and control. And it is the three Cs that define Irish politics above all else:
C.1) Cowardice. No Irish politician ever dares espouse the outlandish, the bizarre or the unusual. C.2) Consensus. Irish politicians always seek the comfort of aggregates. They don't fight lonely battles for what's right. C.3) Control. Irish politicians love intruding upon other people's lives, either by imposing some deranged and unreal morality on them, or by infantalising them with clientelist favours.
These three Cs inevitably create conflicted aspirations, and the outcome is like a Jewish vegan desperately trying to win the annual pork butchers' barbecue. Thus, Irish politicians are almost always powerless when faced with determined and principled opponents.
The most obvious example was provided by the IRA, which really did have principles, which it adhered to fiercely. That those principles were thoroughly evil should actually have made the task of repressing the IRA relatively easy; but no, not in three C-land, where our political classes lacked the courage to take a determined stand without having a nice fat consensus in advance. Which is rather like asking a committee to conduct Beethoven's Ninth.
Our failure to crush the IRA between 1970 and 1996 remains the greatest indictment of independent Ireland -- one, moreover, that cost thousands of lives. It also tells an enduring philosophical truth. Serious political will is chronically missing from this polity.
We've seen a comparable absence of political will in the Rossmore farce, where a wholly unrepresentative cabal of eco-fringistas, with no local or national electoral support, has for years been able to defy the rule of law, An Garda Siochana and this State's energy policy, simply because our political class is paralysed by what appears to be a principled stand.
And it is a principled stand. I fully accept that it is. That doesn't mean we shouldn't lock the eco-fringistas up whenever they break the law, and keep locking them up for as long as necessary. Respecting their right to break the law, and to obstruct state policy, and to cost us millions, at a time when the country is facing economic bankruptcy is another form of bankruptcy: a moral one.
Moreover, far from this bankruptcy being a departure from a norm, it is the norm. For, as the IRA discovered after atrocity upon atrocity, Irish political life is quite unable and unwilling to confront principled causes -- even when the principles are themselves depraved.
What Irish politicians excel at is the creation of morality laws that please the ruling bishops.
When those bishops were Catholic, the State outlawed condoms and male homosexual deeds. The Catholic bishops today have about as much political power as Australian Aborigines in North Korea: instead, we have feminism.
Hence the infamous Sexual Offences Act of 2006, which states that when a 16-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl have consensual sex, he may be imprisoned, but she -- by a specific prescription within the Act -- may not. For our political parties clearly realised that our powerful feminist quangos -- which they, in all their abject three C-ness, created -- would rejoice in a law that could ruin a teenage boy's life, but would angrily denounce one that had similar consequences for a girl.
Now, I have the vocabulary and the loathing to express myself far more strongly about our Irish political classes, but neither the house-rules of this newspaper, nor our State's absurdly restrictive laws on libel, would permit it.
So let's settle for this. I don't write about underwater bullfighting, and I don't write about the antics in New York gay bath-houses. I don't write about operations to remove unwanted gerbils from bowels, and I don't write about sado-masochistic tattooing. I don't write about Chinese irregular verbs and I don't write about atonal Mongolian string quartets.
And so, unless some very rare events compel me to depart from this self-denying ordinance, I promise you, I won't be writing about the forthcoming election campaign.