Where's Enda? - new strategy in Irish campaign

There are still 18 days left until the people of Ireland vote for a new government, but as political campaigns go the one being run by the leader of the favorite party to lead the next government is unique. Unique to me, anyway.

Enda Kenny is the leader of the Fine Gael party and they are odds on favorites to lead the next coalition government. If they win as expected there will be volumes written about Kenny's "hide and seek" strategy.

You see, Kenny {photo} is almost unseen in this campaign. In the weeks before the election was called it was as if he'd taken a vow of silence and joined an order of cloistered monks so rarely was he seen or heard. Day after day those who serve under him were on the tv and the radio railing against the government, calling for an election and promoting Fine Gael's policies.

Kenny was nowhere. He spoke in the Dáil (parliament) on the day it was dissolved and then vanished again.

The more Kenny hid the more media sought him. They looked for him here and he was there. They looked for him there and he was here.

Last week one of Ireland's television channels - TV3 - announced that it was going to host a 3-way debate (tomorrow/Tuesday night) featuring Kenny and the leaders of the two other biggest parties. Kenny announced he was not going to take part, but he had a new excuse each day: (1) he wanted the other two smaller parties involved; (2) he didn't like that the moderator of the debate - Vincent Browne - had last year made a flippant remark about suicide when he implied Kenny should fall on his sword; (3) he was too busy.

Kenny did offer to take part in a 5-way debate next week, probably in the hope that nobody would notice if he said nothing as the other four competed to be heard above the cacophony.

Amazingly, Kenny's strategy may well be paying off. His party is up in the latest polls, which indicates the public is happy to vote for Kenny and his party so long as they are spared having to listen to him.

Kenny has a happy smiling face, one that goes on well on posters, newspaper front pages (babies a bonus) and still shots on tv. Why would he want to spoil that happy image by answering questions from the media, questions that are sure to be depressing.

Why would Kenny want to provide an answer to: "What would you do to get us out from under this overwhelming burden of bankers' debts that the last government and the EU/ECB have heaped upon Ireland's taxpayers?" No matter what the answer is, it can only be bad. Too much of a downer to say anything. Better to leave 'em guessing seems to be his ploy.

Of course all of this media avoidance has made Kenny something of a laughingstock. #WheresEnda has been a trending topic on Twitter for a week or more. Sightings of Kenny were reported breathlessly as if a Sasquatch was spotted in a suburban shopping mall.

Mark Twain once said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." Enda Kenny seems to have adopted that as his campaign strategy. If Fine Gael romps home on February 25 Kenny may well have written a new chapter in the "How to campaign successfully" book.

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