Garth Brooks & the Cabinet Reshuffle

Troyal

Can’t let this week go by without saying something about the vagaries of the political silly season.  When government goes on holidays every year the journalists have time to be more strategic about the issues they cover.  Instead of reacting to the hurdy gurdy of politics they can step back and analyse the direction of politics with a cold eye.

This is not good news for politicians.  In the moment the politician works hard to control the message, control the spin and manipulate events to suit their stated agenda.  If journalists step back from the day to day cut and thrust, and evaluate the last 100 days, the cracks in the spin are all to obvious.  Throw a microscope over any politicians track record and the flaws will appear.

So every year the political powers will attempt to engineer some current news story during the “silly season” to keep politicians in the here and now.  This year the government has manufactured a cabinet reshuffle, but has been handed a better distraction on a plate.  The Garth Brooks debacle is a solid gold gift for government in the height of the silly season.  The politicians can wash their hands of the affair, and throw the concert promoters, the GAA and the planning authorities to the wolves.

A lot of social media commentators have pointed out that this country has better things to focus on than the fate of a country music tour.  This is naive thinking.  Politicians can achieve nothing in the summer recess.  It is a time for holidays and for constituency relationship building.  The last thing they need is for journalism to focus on real political issues.  So Garth Brooks is manna from heaven.  They will do their level best to keep this story alive for as long as it can run.

September 1, 1939; by W. H. Auden, 1907 – 1973

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.