For the past few months, openly-gay public intellectual David Norris has been barnstorming across the Republic of Ireland to bolster his candidacy for the Irish presidency (a largely ceremonial “national spokesman” job). With few if any worthy challengers in the October election, the left-wing senator (also ceremonial) and verbose Trinity College Dublin literature professor was essentially running against himself. And this week he lost.
Norris dropped out of the race after 22-year old blogger John Connolly, “a self-described Zionist and longtime supporter of Israel now living in London,” broke an incredible news item on his little WordPress blog: in 1997, Norris wrote a letter, on Irish Senate letterhead, requesting clemency from an Israeli court on behalf of his then-lover Ezra Yitzak Nawi. Nawi’s alleged crime? The statutory rape of a 15-year old Palestininian boy.
Since the revelation, Norris has fled to his “holiday home” in Cyprus, where he’s ostensibly waiting out an international tabloid firestorm. It’s surprising to see him go down. Even a widely-quoted 2002 interview in which he discussed (and by no means condemned) ancient Greek pederasty traditions could not fell his seemingly-invincible campaign. It isn’t clear yet how the presidential race will progress from here, but one thing is certain: conservative Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, needing all the political support he can get in his bid to solve the country’s bank-bailout crisis, is breathing a little easier with liberal Norris out of the public arena.
Connolly, meanwhile, is the global blogosphere’s twentysomething star-of-the-moment. (Enjoy it while it lasts, kid).