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Those expecting the Irish presidential race to fade from the global headlines now that scandal-ridden public intellectual David Norris has dropped out (and fled the country) are dead wrong. This week, reports from Ireland suggest that apolitical 77-year old talk show host Gay Byrne, known as the “Elder Lemon of Irish Broadcasting,” will seek the ceremonial presidency on the centrist Fianna Fail ticket. As host of Ireland’s seminal Late Late Show from 1962 to 1999, Byrne was like Johnny Carson without the sociopathy and David Frost without the womanizing. His show was witty and intelligent, and, in turn, helped sustain the virtues of wit and intelligence in the Irish cultural mainstream.
Indignant Irish journalists who deride as a farce the current presidential campaign, with its talk show hosts and its pederasty allegations, fail to grasp what makes this current election so interesting to people worldwide. While High-Culture America’s next head-shaking electoral circus will involve sexting, slush funds, Eliot Spitzer and Dick Grasso, the Irish presidential race — even at its most egregiously tacky — finds a jazz-loving Dick Cavett prototype replacing a Joyce-quoting literature professor in a bid to serve, essentially, as National Spokesman. We see here how the Irish perceive celebrity as an intellectually honorific status, entertainment as a lofty representation of culture, and politics as a veritable salon. The mouth-breathing Americans on this side of the Atlantic are not gaping at the Irish presidential race out of condemnation (as delightfully insular Dublin journalists seem to think) but out of wonderment — the same way we watch ITV’s worst sitcoms and soap operas on PBS with our grandparents during Easter.
Byrne still hasn’t technically confirmed his candidacy, but the Irish press is talking about it like it’s a done deal. It’s just too bad Byrne didn’t jump into the race sooner. A televised Norris-Byrne debate would have been the most entertaining thing to hit politics since the Mailer-Breslin mayoral ticket.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?