Friday, May 27, 2011

Obama 2011 & Reagan 1984

I still cannot get over how so many Irish people found President Obama's speech inspiring or moving or just great. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. I mean, it's not like everyone here hasn't heard the same tale a hundred-thousand times from all the Irish-American visitors over the years. {I've actually been relieved to see some letters to the Irish Times expressing the view that the speech wasn't much.}

Anyway, the President's speech was never intended to be taken all that seriously so I don't have any real problem with it. I do wonder why the Irish government was so keen to organize a pep rally for the American President, but whatever.

It's not a great comparison, but just as a point of interest if you read (I'm sure there has to be video somewhere) President Reagan's 1984 address to the Dáil you'll hear a man who engaged in some blarney/banter, but who also addressed serious topics of the day. You'll hear him acknowledge that the people of Ireland disagreed with him on some matters, but he made his points as a respectful democrat in the manner of a man who believed he was addressing freedom-loving adults with whom he could engage in debate.

I'm only saying this because in the run-up to President Obama's College Green event I heard many commentators refer to Reagan's visit as if it was all Ballyporeen fluff. That clearly wasn't true.