Big doings here today, if you're one of those who is obsessed by the minutia of Ireland's politics. RTE's former Economics Editor and the nation's favorite merchant of doom, George Lee, announced today that he was quitting politics, quitting the Dáil and quitting the Fine Gael party less than a year after he quit RTE to "get off the fence" and work to "ensure the country got better Government."
That was in May of 2009 and now it looks like Lee (photo - right) will be looking to get back on the fence at RTE.
Undoubtedly this was a tough decision for Lee, but what of his former party and its leader Enda Kenny (photo - holding Lee's arm aloft)?
Fine Gael is Ireland's second biggest political party and was seen as pretty much shoo-ins for victory in the next election, even if that's still two years away. The country is on its knees and the biggest political party, Fianna Fáil, is generally regarded as responsible.
Right now there are over 400,000 unemployed, thousands of small businesses are on the rocks, the banks are still in a vegetative state and will probably need more taxpayer help. Recovery will be slow and painful, which should all but guarantee a mood for big change in the political sphere.
As far as the electorate is concerned Fianna Fáil turned a blind eye (at best) to shady practices in property development and neglected its responsibilities in regulating the banks who loaned the money to the property developers. In other words, this is a golden opportunity for Fine Gael to shine. All they have to do is prove they can manage things better than Fianna Fáil. That's not too much to ask, is it?
But they're Fine Gael.
Being Fine Gael means never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. It means always a bridesmaid never a bride. It means you can use whatever cliche for LOSER you want to use because Fine Gael are losers.
Now for the most part they're likable losers. I'm sure the Fianna Fáil party loves them because it's always nice to have a loser as your main rival; someone you can count on to do something really stupid at the worst possible time. Or any other time as well. That's Fine Gael.
George Lee is leaving Fine Gael because, he says, he had no influence in shaping the party's economics policies. At the time he quit RTE to join Fine Gael Lee was easily the most well known and respected economist in the country. Having warned us for years that the sky was falling, he was almost a god in people's eyes when it did, in fact, fall.
And how did Fine Gael use this uniquely popular and intelligent and respected resource? Basically as a meet and greet guy, sort of a pretty face for a poster campaign, but not someone whose views you'd actually take seriously. It just seems so stupid that it's beyond comprehension. But they're Fine Gael.
Now Lee's gone, FG's lost their poster boy and, possibly, their best opportunity in a generation to actually win an election, which they haven't managed since 1982. They've managed to look worse than Fianna Fáil and that's hard work. Losers.