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Wise fools have had a busy week

Only an ignoramus could suggest that an intellectual dissertation about pederasty in Greek society should disqualify someone from running for the Presidency. There may be quite a few reasons why David Norris should not be the next Irish President, but the senator's 'foolish' decision to engage in an academic discourse with an eccentric restaurant critic about the sleeping arrangements in Plato's Symposium is not one of them.

The invidious whispers by media ignoramuses about how it is dangerous for a gay man to talk too much about Greek philosophers suggests the only thing that has changed from that time where Yeats would tell the mob "you have disgraced yourselves again" is the replacement of the Abbey theatre by Mr Joe Duffy. It would not, though, be correct to use the famous line about the evils of 'breaking a butterfly on the wheel' to describe last week's events.

In spite of his blithe gaiety, Mr Norris is a far tougher class of animal who fought against closeted clerical paedophiles and cowardly homophobe politicians long before it was popular or profitable. Like the very different Garret Fitzgerald, Norris held the line when it came to the tough battle to create a humane civilised society. And those dithering councillors who are sniffing the wind would be wise to realise a public who love their gay sons, daughters, friends and relatives hold Mr Norris in somewhat higher esteem than some superannuated restaurant critic.

In the world of serious, as distinct to Presidential, politics, the ignoramuses also came out to play over the Leo Varadkar controversy. As is so often the case, the views of our wise idiots was summarised by the Irish Times' use of the old war motif about how careless talk costs lives. The claim, however, that Mr Varadkar was guilty of undermining the government's attempts to convince the bond markets that Ireland is a fine old place was risible.

The markets do not need Mr Varadkar, mixed metaphors by Mr Noonan, or Mr Kenny's emotional entanglement with Riverdance to tell them what to think. They instead are wondering how deflation, reparations, austerity, unemployment, deposit flight, a credit famine and the destruction of the retail economy will stimulate the sort of growth we need to balance our national books.

The embrace by so august an institution as the Times of the 'two legs bad, four legs good' school of economics raises the question as to whether we have learnt anything from the Nyberg Report's analysis of the disastrous consequences of herd mentalities and 'group think'. Of course, it can be hard to secure the correct balance between the neo-colonial politics of 'Uno Duce Una Voce' and too much independent thought. It has in the past been the practice that cabinets had their debates before they made their decision. Now, however, the pattern appears to be for isolated ministers to indulge in personal demarches and then the debate really starts.

The uncertainty this has created over the government's intentions means that, after a bright start, suddenly Mr Kenny's 'summer report card' is starting to acquire a few smudges. Good governance requires more than the ability to wave at the people. In Mr Kenny's case it is time for him to apply his talents to the creation of a school of politics that can marry straight talking with the formulation of a coherent message.

Sunday Independent