Genealogists claim that John McCain's ancestors hailed from the north of Ireland, while Barack Obama's roots only run as far north as Offaly. This would explain their divergent attitudes about the need for an American presence in Northern Ireland.
There's been a special U.S. envoy keeping an eye on the peace process for a long time. Mr. Obama believes that, ten years after the peace proceess began, there's no need. It was a Clinton policy anyway, and he's keen to rid himself of all things Clintonian.
As for Mr. McCain, with drops of the north coursing through his veins, he sees the envoy as key to holding the fragile peace together. Get rid of the special envoy? Doesn't that demonstrate the untested lad's poor judgment and complete lack of foreign policy savvy?
Mr. Obama has no intention of putting an end to the great tradition of welcoming the sitting Taoiseach on St. Paddy's Day. He might even make his way to County Offaly, to call on the old homestead, after he's elected. It's not as if he means to cut Ireland out of the picture altogether.
The bricks and Molotov cocktails have been flying in Antrim of late. You'd have to believe that the folks huddled in their homes would like that special envoy to stick around a bit longer, until the peace can find its legs and support itself.