\"Westlife\"

Jedward and Westlife - perfect openers for Obama

\"Westlife\"


Niall O'Dowd is unimpressed with the warm-up acts for President Obama's speech at College Green in Dublin this afternoon. The two headline acts are Westlife, a rapidly aging boy band, and Jedward, well, if you don't know you probably don't want to know.

O'Dowd's problem seems to be that these two groups (acts/bands/whatever) are completely devoid of talent. He feels they compare badly with Van Morrison, who preceded President Clinton's address in Belfast in 1995. He's right about that. When Morrison sang his song Days Like This the President and the massive throng gathered to cheer him sang along in joy at the prospect of peace. It was a real moment of meaning, something people remember and look back on fondly.

I agree with O'Dowd on Van Morrison and how he compares with Westlife {photo} and Jedward, but today doesn't call for a singer/song-writer of Morrison's ability. Why? Because unlike in 1995 when the people of Belfast, indeed the people all over Ireland, had a real reason to cheer and celebrate the American President, today's love fest has nothing whatsoever to do with anything President Obama has done for Ireland or anything else he has done since taking office.

If today's large crowd was there to cheer the President for his boldness in waging war and especially for the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, I'd be thrilled. Yet, I know that a large chunk - possibly the majority - of those who'll be there will either be indifferent or uneasy about all that.

The mostly young (I'm guessing) crowd can hardly be there to thank the President for the fact that his Treasury Secretary shot down a better bailout deal for Ireland. After all, quite a few amongst the gathering will undoubtedly have to leave Ireland in the not-too-distant future because we owe a debt that we cannot repay priced in a currency we can neither afford nor control.

Maybe they hope that by showering the President with adulation today he will be so moved that he will start pumping Green Cards into the crowd with one of those air cannons they use for tee shirts at sporting events. If that's their motivation then I say "Good luck to them," but there's no hope of that.

The truth is none of that matters to the crowd. They will yell and shout and cheer the President's speech, which I expect to be mostly feel-good platitudes and little else. There will be nothing of any real importance said and his starry-eyed audience will adore him for it.

In other words, he'll look good and he'll probably sound good, but there will be no substance to his lyrics or his performance - just like Jedward and Westlife.

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