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Terry Prone: If I'd known about Green weenies' little teddy bear press conference yesterday I'd have called and said, 'Are you out of your tiny minds?'

We know Brian Cowen never tells us, the public, anything we can understand, but now we've discovered he doesn't tell his Cabinet anything, either.

In a countdown to the disaster yesterday, the clock started ticking roughly two weeks ago, when Brian Lenihan engaged seriously with the IMF lads.

The Taoiseach (even if he's not on good terms with Lenihan, which he sure as hell isn't) must have known about this.

Dermot Ahern is believed to have checked with the Taoiseach before he and Noel Dempsey went out in public saying all this bailout talk was lies.

Whatever he was told was unhelpful to either man. The clock ticked on, and within days they were made to look at best fools and at worst liars, which neither man is.

Tick tock, tick tock -- and the Government is forced to take the money from our rescuers. Front covers of newspapers the world over record the humiliating climbdown.

Tick tock, tick tock -- the Greens, sideswiped by all this, look like collusive weenies. Because they share with the PDs a lethal addiction to good media coverage, they decide they need to be seen to do something decisive, something to separate them from Fianna Fail.

Tick tock, tick tock -- and on Sunday Brian Lenihan does his first truly bad radio interview with Richard Crowley. The backwash stiffens the Green determination to be seen as different from and better than Fianna Fail. They'll serve the interests of democracy by dictating the date of the election.



Oversized

At this point, the clock begins to speed up and go ticktockticktock and John Gormley barely gets to talk to his Taoiseach before he joins his colleagues, plus baby Daisy, plus oversized teddy bear, for the announcement.

Baby Daisy owns the oversized teddy. Paul Gogarty owns Baby Daisy. The purpose of bringing her and Teddy to the press conference was unclear and questionable.

But then, "unclear and questionable" are the words you would apply to the whole exercise.

If I'd known about it in advance, I'd have telephoned a couple of good friends within the Green Parliamentary Party and said: "Are you out of your cotton-picking MINDS? You can't pretend fealty to a Taoiseach from whom you have removed one of the most fundamental prerogatives of his role: that of deciding the date of an election.

"You can't promise to serve a man you've publicly destroyed. You can't claim to be vindicating the public's right to an election when you've sat on your hands and allowed one by-election after another to be postponed.

"And if you think this is going to differentiate the party from Fianna Fail in the minds of the electorate, ye must be on crack."

I would also have taken Paul Gogarty aside and said: "Paul, I know the point you're trying to make, but it's the wrong point at the wrong time. It's going to further madden people who have decided the Greens are a waste of space. Invading Daisy's privacy may seem harmless now, but no politician should ever involve their children in pictures at an age when the children can't make input into the decision."

But the clock ticked on with no stopping any of it. That's what always happens when a Government hits the rocks, and in this case, the Government has hit rocks the size of Everest.

Government ministers, locked together in collective responsibility, stand by the leader, but they do it in a way that demonstrates their lack of faith in him. Downcast gaze. Physical distance.

Heads resolutely still -- no nods of agreement. Bombarded with advice from friends, enemies and media, notified of conspiracies and heaves, Cabinet ministers at this stage in a meltdown get no sleep and stop thinking straight.

That's the condition in which the Government will frame a Budget that a different Government will have to implement. It's democracy. God help us.


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