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On the lighter side - Mitt Romney and Barack Obama go head to head as Ireland gears up for a doomsday budget

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Illustration by Caty Bartholomew
On the lighter side of life, has anybody over there noticed that President Obama's dark hair is rapidly turning white due to the pressures of office and the gathering pace and momentum of the election campaign?

Or is anything to do with pigmentation of any part of a person never discussed with you?  I don't know the answer to that being merely a bogman in the west of Ireland that many of you think, through your posts, should never write anything at all about American politics. Okay to that.

But just before I drop the subject and return to a hellish enough interlude in our domestic politics here, can I remark that Mitt Romney, any time I see him on late night TV in Clare, seems to be very definitely and even deliberately putting his foot in it. He has to be the master of gaffes, from the clips I have viewed anyway.

He also always looks extremely uncomfortable in jeans, unlike any other American I've seen or met. Could he really become your next president? Could he?  Is it possible?

Will you be voting for him? It's truly a fascinating election for a bogman to view from far away on the other side of the Atlantic.

Again on the lighter side, but with a shadow as well, we have had a turbulent political intermission here at home. Do you know the real reason why?

The reason was that the Mayo football team were yet again soundly defeated in Croke Park in the All-Ireland final I was writing about here recently. Donegal won relatively easily in the end and, as an Ulsterman, I'm delighted.

But what I forgot about when writing last time was the political fallout from the final. I forgot that our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is, above all, a proud son of Mayo.

There he was at the game in the front row of the VIP section in Croke Park and, in the beginning, his face was as bright and full of hope as that of the many thousands of Mayo supporters around him.

At the long whistle though, when hapless Mayo were beaten again in a final they could maybe have won, Kenny's visage was blanched and rigid with his inner misery.  It was plain to be seen.

Kenny is a member of a distinguished footballing family in Mayo and that added to his sense of loss.  He has to be commended for the way in which he congratulated the victors from the North as they took away the mighty Sam Maguire trophy but, back in Leinster House's corridors of power in the following days I'm reliably informed by a Dublin colleague that his black mood persisted and that he was to be avoided at all costs by political friends and foes alike.

I was also informed, for example, that Sinn Fein's articulate frontbencher Pearse Doherty called in sick for the week. Doherty is a Donegal man and that was an astute move indeed. Anyway, he would have been out celebrating with his county at a party which will last for a month.

Anyone will tell you that an angry Mayo man is equivalent to a weapon of mass destruction -- except in Croke Park in an All-Ireland final! 

Back on his political turf since the game, Kenny has been ruling midfield with a rod of iron since the game. He had issues to deal with in a coalition which is just beginning to creak a bit at the seams under all the social and economic pressures to bear on us at present.

Ministers like James Reilly and Leo Varadkar and Labor's Roisin Shortall have been trying to avoid him as far as possible because they have been in the headlines on domestic issues.  It seems that Kenny, often seen as being an iron hand in a velvet glove, threw away the velvet glove after the Mayo defeat and is wading in good and proper.

He is on fire. If they had given him a jersey and thrown him afield in the final the result might have been different!

We have a savage budget coming up. The Eurozone crisis is far from solved. There is a lot of political stress and tension in the air just now. And for as long as the Mayo man is smarting at his county's latest defeat it is clear that things are not going to get easier anytime soon. It is time to keep our heads down.

And they say it is only a game!

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