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Michael O'Doherty: For all our sakes, I hope clueless Cowen was drunk

Winston Churchill was a man who could hold his drink and deliver the best lines of all time.

Famously of a rotund woman who criticised his drinking he turned to her and said: "And you are ugly, Madam."

"In the morning, however, I shall be sober; but you will still be ugly." The best punchline of all time?

It also cuts straight to the heart of the storm about whether Brian Cowen was or wasn't hungover on Morning Ireland.

It doesn't really matter whether our esteemed leader was out downing Jaegerbombs till 3.30am -- that was his down time, which he's entitled to. What matters is his performance the next day. And 9am on a Tuesday morning is hardly the crack of dawn, so we're entitled to expect the leader to be in control of his faculties.

Instead of dealing with the issue, naturally enough, Cowen and his cronies fudge, deflect and get indignant.

"Is a man not entitled to do a bit of socialisation?" pipes up Noel Dempsey, displaying not only his traditional failure to grasp what all the fuss is about, but a new-found failure to grasp the English language.

In a way, I almost hope he was drunk when he did the interview. There's a part of me that wishes he had slumped himself down in front of Cathal Mac Coille with a bottle of hooch in one hand, a young actress in the other, and told Cathal to "stop asking such serious questions, man, and just chill."


Because at least then he would have had the excuse of being drunk, his ability being impaired, and he couldn't perform up to his usual standard. All of which means, by extension, that when he sobered up, everything would be okay.

If he was drunk or hung over when he gave that interview, then the incompetent, evasive performance, with a series of cliches interrupted only by a blatant refusal to answer questions directly, was merely a temporary blip.

If he was sober and simply suffering from a frog in his throat, however, and this was the regular Brian Cowen, then we are well and truly buggered.

Brian Cowen may not have been drunk. In the morning, however, he was still babbling, clueless, and utterly out of his depth. And we're going to have to put up with this till the next election.

That is the real scandal.

Michael should stick to his ovaltine

IT'S over a year away, but Ireland's next presidential campaign has already begun.

This time, however, far from being a race, the path to Aran an Uachtarain looks more like a leisurely stroll towards a retirement home, with a collection of candidates in the twilight of their years spouting the kind of rambling, woolly drivel that you'd expect from some great uncle at the Christmas dinner table.

Michael D Higgins (69) threw his zimmer frame into the ring with the following guff. "We need to discuss the basis of a new form of trust built on a meaningful form of citizenship appropriate for a republic... As a country, we need to re-examine the value of a real, participatory citizenship and how this can be achieved through a deepening of democracy."

Of course we do, Michael, of course we do. Now, drink up your Ovaltine like a good lad...

Or try this for size from Fergus Finlay (60), another candidate. "The presidency has the power to reflect and to shape the vital spirit of our people... It is one of the few institutions that has not been tarnished in recent years and that it can now play a role in bringing about a reconnection between State and citizens."

In the midst of this waffle, Finlay has inadvertently hit on a important point. The reason the presidency has been untouched is because it is so irrelevant.