Poor Bertie Ahern - in quite a mess, now that the Irish Times has published a leak and told the world of some very friendly generosity. Indeed, it's not what you know, it's who you know, and doesn't Chicago look more Irish than ever?
Thirteen years ago, Mr. Ahern was in the midst of a marital break-up and greatly in need of cash. Lots of cash, by all accounts, to pay off his soon to be ex-wife and provide for the future of his two little girls. What's a man to do, if he does not want to stay married and yet he does not want to go bankrupt getting out of his wedding vows? If you're a government minister with wealthy friends, you go begging hat in hand. Good friends would know how desperately you wanted out of the marriage, and really good friends would help you out. So goes Mr. Ahern's explanation of why he was given several thousand pounds.
The Opposition is jumping all over it, trying to make the payments look like bribes. The problem is, no one got anything out of it, except Bertie, who got Celia Larkin. No vast sums of money were handed over, no hidden bank accounts discovered. Ahern needed to fund his separation and his ex-wife Miriam agreed the deal. For all the hot hair spewing out of the Dail these days, though, you'd think someone was pocketing some big money. Fools. Take a look at what's happening in Chicago if you want something real.
Chicago's mayor turned to his friends as well, and we all know that political campaigns are costly ventures. A good friend would know how desperately he wanted to be mayor, and some really good friends helped him out. However, those same friends were given plum positions that brought in some vast amounts of cash, more than making up for whatever was donated to fundraising efforts. The Feds are busy investigating the whole corrupt mess, starting from the bottom, where folks with qualifications found out that they were lacking the only real qualification. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
Will Bertie Ahern be forced to step down? Will the coalition government topple? Should the Progressive Democrats pull out? Yes, all this tempest over relatively small wads of Irish pounds. Amateurs, the lot of them, rank amateurs. And they call that corruption. They don't know what corruption is.