|Sasha, Michelle and Malia Obama in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow last week. (EPA)|
What did the Obama girls do to deserve such torture during their 24-hour visit to Dublin last week?
Bored stiff by some ancient book in Trinity College, forced to listen to ancient diddle-aye music at the now ancient show Riverdance, eaten alive by midges while looking at an ancient rock in Glendalough and, worst of all, having a pub lunch with some ancient, nauseating rock star called Bono.
Is it any wonder they were looking sulky and pulling cross-eyed faces? At least they weren't on their phones all day like Irish teenagers.
After getting over the shock of how unimpressed the Obama girls seemed to be, and how their visit here with their mom was being reported back in the U.S., the Irish media decided to be sympathetic and agree.
The Book of Kells and the old ledgers showing the family births and deaths of their Irish ancestors, the Kearneys, which the girls were shown in Trinity, was hardly interesting stuff for teenagers. Riverdance is a show for middle-aged people. Being bitten by midges is horrible and scary, especially if you're not used to it.
And who -- adult or teenager -- would want to be subjected to Bono and his ego when they're trying to eat their lunch?
The negative coverage was a bit of a laugh, we decided. And it wasn't all boring, despite what the pictures seemed to show.
They're barely teenagers, for God's sake. Give them a break.
It's not so long since some of my gang were teenagers, and I know all about this. You and I might think there are accepted standards of behavior in such situations even for teenagers (like when they're visiting relatives or attending school events), behavior involving politeness, showing an interest, making an effort to engage, smiling now and then.
It's not a big deal. I'm just saying that when my teenagers behaved that way back in the day I was not happy with them. I'm just saying, that's all.
Hundreds of Irish kids go on school trips to see the book of the Books of Kells here every year and find it amazing. The history of your own family should be fascinating to anyone.
Glendalough is so spectacular (even when there are a few midges around) it could be a location for Game of Thrones. What's not to like? Even Riverdance is impressive, despite being a bit of a cliché these days.
And as for His Bononess ... well, okay, there I give up. He's enough to make anyone go cross-eyed.
As various people here said afterwards, it should have been lunch with Niall from One Direction. That surely would have put a smile or two on those sad, disconnected Obama faces.
But it wasn't all Yawnsville, even for teenagers, although I do have some sympathy for the Obama girls. (At least they weren't on their phones, like the texter Enda Kenny when he was meeting the last Pope.)
The person from Official Ireland who put the program together clearly was trying to show off things that would look good on TV in the U.S. and attract lots of American tourists rather than genuinely entertain a couple of young teenagers.
Was that the right thing to do? Probably not ... but it's too late now.
The visit also raised some other questions, not just here but in the U.S. How much had it cost? And was it worth it?
The answer is a definite yes, for one reason that got little attention. While First Lady Michelle Obama and the two girls were here the meeting of the G8 leaders was taking place in Fermanagh, bringing the most powerful people in the world (Obama, Putin and the others) to Northern Ireland.
Beautiful Lough Erne and Co. Fermanagh, once a very troubled place where sectarian murder was common, looked wonderful, bathed in sunshine. It looked as beautiful and peaceful a place as you could imagine.
And it also looked British.
The Union Jacks fluttering in the gentle breeze made it very clear to the global audience watching TV news that although the pictures were coming from Ireland, this was happening in a part of the United Kingdom. David Cameron, the British prime minister, was on hand to welcome the world leaders.
It was a reminder to the global audience -- and to us in the south of Ireland --- that part of the island of Ireland is still very much part of Britain.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, partly because Ireland currently holds the EU presidency and partly because he's the next door neighbor, was allowed to stroll around for a few minutes with President Obama and the global leaders. But as one of the papers here put it, he had to hop in his car and come back down here for his dinner when the real round table dinner for the world leaders was going on up there.
That is the political reality and we all know that. Ireland is a minnow in the global pond of big fish.
And Northern Ireland just happened to be the part of the U.K. where the G8 meeting was being held. It was an inspired choice by Cameron, showing the world how peaceful the North is these days and at the same time remote Fermanagh being difficult for all those G8 protestors to get at.
No one here resented the choice. Everyone here knows the reality.
Yet it's hard not to feel just a hint of humiliation when all these world leaders are congregated just a hundred miles up the road from Dublin and it's really got nothing to do with us.
Which is why the visit by Michelle Obama and her daughters here was a good idea. It made us a part of the Obamas-in-Ireland story. In fact there are many people here who would say that we got the better part of the deal.
But back to Bono, the man with delusions that he is some kind of world leader himself. It was hard to miss the irony in Tax Dodger Bono hosting the lunch for Mrs. Obama and the girls while up the road one of the main items on the agenda for the world leaders was tax dodging by global corporations.
Funniest moment of the visit, however, was not provided by Bono, but by an independent socialist member of the Dail (Irish Parliament) called Clare Daly, who was so incensed that she went completely over the top. She accused the Irish government of “prostituting” Ireland to the U.S., and accused the Irish media of "slobbering" over the first lady and the two girls during their brief stay in Ireland.
She told the Dail she was surprised that Kenny had not dressed his ministers in leprechaun hats decorated with stars and stripes flags. She said that the Irish government was "the lapdog of U.S. imperialism," that Obama was the "hypocrite of the century" for preaching peace to Northern Irish teenagers even though he had doubled U.S. drone attacks.
And there was more of this stuff in Daly's diatribe in the Dail. Kenny told her she was a "disgrace" -- and he was right.
Nobody likes the drones because of the possibility of collateral damage, including the unintentional
killing of civilians. But most of us are grown up enough to understand that the deliberate or careless killing of civilians is not what the U.S. does, unlike the terrorists who deliberately target civilians.
We also realize that the drone program has been highly successful in reducing the terrorist threat by removing much of the leadership.
Daly should have a better understanding of military matters like this since her dad was a colonel in the Irish Army. Like most of our socialists, she has a nice, comfortable middle class background behind her.
She got into left wing student politics when she was in college 20 years ago, and basically she never grew up. She's still spouting the same infantile lefty nonsense we all did in university before we learned what the real world was like.
So if any of you over there were alarmed at or even offended by the things she said, you need not be.
We don't take her seriously. Just like Bono.
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