From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Tony Groves
If Enda Kenny was considered by many to be the Accidental Taoiseach, then Leo Varadkar might be considered the first Occidental one. Occident derives from the latin occidens “sunset, West” and has evolved to simply mean the Western World or Western Culture.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is the biggest proponent of Western Culture ever to hold the highest office in Ireland. But in reality we couldn’t have a worst time to be led by such an individual.
Western Culture, ignoring imperialism and the hollowing out of the (horrible term) Third World, was historically about raising living standards, improving social mobility and creating economic opportunity.
But sadly, those parts of the culture are long in reverse. Every economic indicator tells of lowering living standards, less social mobility and an economic model of feudalism.
It is to this Culture that the Occidental Taoiseach belongs. He is part of the Kardashian Culture. He takes selfies, shoots videos from his private jet, waves socks and has a Strategic Communications Unit who have reduced the value of any words he speaks to less than a marketing slogan.
I saw the hashtag #NotMyTaoisock last week and, rather than laugh, I grimaced. This is what he has turned the highest office in the land into. I’m all for fun and I don’t think the offices of power need to be a sense of humour free zone, but it’s deeply unfunny when he’s paying people to make jokes with our money.
Take just the last few days of the Occidental Taoiseach’s Accidents; he (or TCD History Professor Patrick Geoghegan) plagiarised a JFK quote and tried to pass it off as deep, he tweeted an image of novelty socks (containing the caption You’re A Ride), then he had someone take a picture of him filling a dishwasher, with the caption “no-one gets away without packing the dishwasher around here”.
On November 10, he told the Fine Gael National Conference that “every child deserves a childhood”.
On November 11 he told the media (and a Facebook Live Audience) that Ireland has “one of the lowest levels of homelessness”.
It took him less than 24hrs to forget about the 3,124 homeless children.
Then on November 12, rather than be quiet he opened his mouth (or his now Trump Like Twitter Account) simply to exchange his feet, tweeting:
“Context matters. Was asked a question…about homelessness levels. We don’t by international comparison. That’s a fact.”
Let me give you some context, Taoiseach:
In 2008, at the death of the Celtic Tiger era, we had approximately 1,522 homeless people in Ireland. Today we have over 8,371.
In 2008 we had approximately 16,000 millionaires. Today we have over 116,000.
Taoiseach. Your attempts to contextualise and normalise homeless children are disgusting. Your party is in power since 2011 and has overseen this huge growth in inequality.
The Occidental Taoiseach has had more Enda Kenny like faux pas in the last fortnight than Enda Kenny himself had in over 40 years in politics. Please Taoiseach, put the phone away, pull up your fancy €9 a pair socks and get on with the real and difficult challenges that are facing the country.
Many people think you are the most Right Wing Taoiseach in the history of the state, I myself have some sympathy with this belief. But I’m starting to think you’re more dangerous than that. I think you have already made a calculated assessment that you can fool enough people via PR, Tweets and Facebook to get re-elected.
You know, in your less vacuous moments, that you’ll never persuade the many who see the lack of substance beneath the handsome veneer, so you won’t even bother trying. You’ll simply send a tweet on Monday saying you’re tackling the latest crisis and then explain it away as normal on Facebook Live on Tuesday.
If that doesn’t work you’ll get your Varak-ops department to follow you around on a bike ride.
The Occidental Taoiseach is banking on fooling enough of us so as he doesn’t have to reach out to those left behind. You can fool some of the people some of the time. The rest, in this context, don’t matter. Isn’t that right, Taoiseach?
Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld.