15 May 2008

Unusually, I stayed awake for the whole of Monday’s Questions and Something. I think it’s because Part 1 ran longer than usual making Part 2 shorter and, consequently, less sleep-making. My glass of red was about to do that tipping onto my good shirt thing for only the first time when all of a sudden John was thanking tonight’s panel for coming along. If you were caught up in a series two CSI rerun on Channel 6, here’s what you missed.


Q: What is the biggest challenge facing Brian Cowen?


A: As the whole of Ireland (except, for the time being, Offaly) was thinking ‘be less Brian Cowen-like’, the panel said… well to be honest I’m not actually sure what the panel said.



Q: Should Irish farmers vote no to Lisbon if the WTO does something to Peter Mandelson and the veto and such?


A: Like the question, I didn’t quite catch how the panel responded. But the polemic did provide me with this interesting thought: isn’t it funny how Irish commentators aren’t capable of discussing an issue on its own merits? They always need some other unrelated but intriguing issue to tie it into. For the best part of a year Irish politicians, journalists and commentators have been incapable of stringing two incisive thoughts together about the substance of the Lisbon Treaty (which is: hard-to-get-your-head-around alterations to where power will lie in an already arcane structure) but then all of sudden and all so very Third Policeman the discussion becomes electric because a yes vote may result in an obscure series of unforeseeable knock-on effects involving a conspiracy of farmers, Peter Mandelson, Brazilians, beef, something called the WTO and some secret negotiations. Now, everyone is interested. If you’re as confused about this as I am, take solace from what a chap said on the radio the other day: if you don’t understand what’s going on, it means there’s nothing wrong with you. (And by the way, farmers and everyone should be voting ‘no’.)   



Q: Should Hilary Clinton pull out of the U.S Presidential race?


A: The most interesting thing the discussion this inconsequential question raised was the point that Matt Dempsey of the Irish Farmers Journal made regarding the U.S. system of selecting a chief executive. He suggested America’s ‘popular vote’ approach had produced some dodgy Presidents and thought Germany’s ‘peer vote’ system had produced better statesmen… but, didn’t it take a plucky Pole to trigger German reunification? And hang on a sec – don’t we in Ireland have a ‘peer vote’ system of sorts? I’m sorry Matt: Biffo and Obama?



Q: Should we drop food on Burma if the Generals decide to stand by and let a million of their own people starve?


A: The panel were categorical in their belief it might be good idea to help out the one million starving Burmese in some way. But only up to a point - we musn’t upset the Generals.



To summarise the rest of the show: John pointed his pen, the political correspondent on the panel took the moral high ground, young audience members were eager and obvious, old audience members missed the point and the members of the main political parties cancelled each other out. 


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