We choose our political leaders for one thing. It's not policy expertise. No one can be expert in everything. Political leaders can draft in medics, scientists and other specialists for advice on different topics.
It's not to be good communicators. Few are any good as the steady stream of journalists taking up roles as political advisers shows.
It's not even to be good people. Politics has produced its fair share of hypocrites, thieves and rogues, most of whom get re-elected well after their misdeeds are suspected and even uncovered.
We choose them for their political judgment.
We don't expect Dr Ronan Glynn, the acting chief medical officer, to know which of the restrictions he advises are ones that ordinary people will wear. That's where politics comes in.
On Tuesday last week, the Government listened to the advice of Nphet, accepted some of it and rejected other parts. The Cabinet is full of people who should know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to ordinary people because ministers live with and are elected by the public.
They sit in pubs, at constituency clinics, and on the sidelines of pitches, listening to ordinary people, getting feedback. They should have their finger on the pulse of the nation.
That Cabinet meeting chose to impose further restrictions on people. Whether these were the right decisions are debatable. But there was a sense of unfairness in them. People will take a lot of punishment if they think it is for something and if it is fair. People hate unfairness.
There was anger from the GAA at what seems an unfair decision to limit numbers at training and to stop parents watching their kids play matches. Publicans were already angry there was no plan to allow them to open. The new restrictions seemed a bit incoherent, and when they were communicated to the public, there was confusion over what they meant.
One of the few people who should not have been confused was Dara Calleary, the now-former minister for agriculture. He was there. If he did not know whether a theatre could hold an indoor gathering of 15 or 50, then how could anyone else?
When Mr Calleary chose to go to the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway - which 81 people were due to attend - last Wednesday, he showed no political judgment.
To be fair to him, it didn't take him long to realise the scale of his misjudgment. Social media outrage is par for the course these days and usually a bad guide to what ordinary people feel but last Thursday night, the outrage was palpable, genuine and widespread.
Most people could point to social gatherings they had cancelled or not attended because of the original or the new restrictions that the Government had advised. It wasn't just the odd party. They quickly pointed out that they had cancelled weddings or missed the funerals of close friends. People pointed out that organisations they are members of had cancelled or postponed events. If amateur organisations could figure this out, then why couldn't TDs, senators and judges.
Maybe it is because the pubs are closed, the pitches are empty, and clinics are cancelled, but the decision to go ahead with this large gathering showed that a lot of our representatives are completely out of touch. The defence that the room was partitioned looks a joke.
It gives credence to all those who argued that there is one set of rules for politicians and judges, yet another for the rest of us. It makes any Government attempt to sell further restrictions as "we're all in it together for a national effort" risible. The Government's outrage at house parties and bars breaking rules looks tone deaf. The moral authority of the Government to ask more of us seems spent.
Sometimes a political crisis drives the parties in government together. That is unlikely now. It puts further pressure on a government that is straining at the seams. The "national effort" and a bit of political self-interest was what was going to keep this Government together. Experienced politicians knew opening up would be trickier than the relatively easy job of shutting the country down. It is hard to anticipate the inevitable inconsistencies that will arise. But this government doesn't seem to agree on much now.
Last Wednesday, the Irish Independent reported that Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin clashed in Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, and it is clear from off-the-record briefings that Fine Gael was not happy with the new measures, which it thought were "incoherent". The absence of a Fine Gael spokesperson at the post-Cabinet press conference might have been innocent - Leo Varadkar is on holidays in Mayo - but it wouldn't take a fantasist to read something into it.
Disputes in Cabinet often make it into the papers but rarely do you get such clear breaches of collective Cabinet responsibility on what is the biggest policy issue facing the Government. If they can't agree on this, then what will they agree on?
Normally Cabinet meetings are preceded by meetings of the party leaders or a Cabinet committee so that the decision is already worked out before the meeting starts. That did not happen last week, hence the marathon Cabinet meeting.
Philip Ryan's report in the Independent quoted one line Varadkar said to the Taoiseach at the meeting: "If we keep doing business like this, we won't be doing business for very long."
The Government has a tough task in the autumn. The virus is not going away. A temporary economic crash seems to be giving way to a sustained recession. The Greens are already divided about what to do, which will only get worse when there is pressure to cut spending. Fianna Fáil is disunited. Fine Gael look to want out.
Micheál Martin was meant to be the safe pair of hands: calm, experienced and competent. He might still be all those things, but he is also appears to be plain unlucky.
Eoin O'Malley is an associate professor at the School of Law and Government at DCU