Michael D. Higgins in 2011 became the ninth president of the Republic of Ireland. The year before that, when the Tea Party rode into Washington on its historic “Red Wave,” Higgins and pro-fiscal conservative Michael Graham appeared together on Irish Radio and the result of that meeting is just now going viral.
“So whether you agree with Obama, what he is doing in aspects of his foreign policy -- and I might disagree about some things about Latin and South America -- but one of the things I do agree: the idea of there being a social floor below which people wouldn’t fall. That’s the future,” Higgins railed.
“I think even the poorest people in the great country that is the United States should be entitled to basic healthcare, and I don’t think they’ll thank the Sarah Palin look-alikes and followers for taking it off them,” he added.
As Graham was barely able to get a word in edgewise, Higgins marched on [emphasis added]:
You’re about as late arrival in Irish politics as Sarah Palin is in American politics, and both of you have the same tactic. The tactic is to get a large crowd, whip them up, try and discover what is the greatest fear, work on that, and feed it right back and you get a frenzy, and that leads you in time, then, to when you have in fact maybe one of the most gifted presidents elected -- though I happen not to agree with all his foreign policy -- but you know, you regard, for example, someone who happens to have been a professor at Harvard as somehow handicapped.
You don’t find anything wrong with all this Tea Party ignorance that been brought all around the United States, which is regularly insulting people who have been democratically elected?
Wait -- he has a problem with people insulting those who have been democratically elected?
“Deputy Higgins, I’m not going to insult you by bringing up your lack of knowledge of the Tea Party movement, but other than -- ” Graham started.
"I lived in the United States, and you know one of the interesting things, mate?" Higgins interrupted. “The magnificent, decent, generous people of the United States with whom I had supper … the difference between them and the tiny elite who are in charge of war-mongering foreign policy of the United States is just enormous."
"So, therefore, when you go on your picnic around the country, you’re really not representing the decent United States people who are very proud, correctly, of the person they’ve elected president, as they’re entitled to do," he added, "So rather, be proud to be a decent American, rather than be just a wanker whipping up fear!"
Final Thought: First, we're not sure if President Higgins has figured out by now that the Tea Party is (and always has been) about fiscal conservatism, not war-mongering. Second, if he has figured out that the Tea Party is primarily concerned with economic sanity, then let's talk econ.
Ireland in 2010 received a €90 billion bailout from the troika of the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, prompting the republic to level on all households a fiercely unpopular €100 tax that many refuse to pay.
The country’s unemployment rate currently sits at 14.9 percent, Irish debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is 120.3 percent, the country is expected to fall back into recession later this year, and national income (which doesn’t count foreign production) is expected to contract by one percent.
Who knows? Perhaps if Higgins were to reevaluate his opinion of the Tea Party and its position on unsustainable public programs and out of control government spending, Ireland would be in a more productive and economically secure position.
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Front page photo source courtesy the AP.