At the moment, that man is Batt O'Keeffe, and that room is any space in which Ireland's teachers have gathered.
The Minister for Education has been addressing the teachers' unions, making the case for the budget cuts that cannot be avoided. An economic downturn means change, and for those accustomed to the twenty-year run of the Celtic Tiger, it's too unpleasant to consider.
There's no money in the till. Not anywhere in the world. But still, the teachers are furious that they, of all people, are to be asked to sacrifice. Like everyone else in the world.
Mr. O'Keeffe spoke to a collection of retreating backs recently, when members of the Irish National Teachers' Organization walked out as he began his speech. Those who kept their seats sat on their hands, unless they were holding up placards to proclaim their protest.
John Carr of INTO took a page from the Jim Larkin playbook, when he held up Ireland's children (figuratively, unlike Mr. Larkin who once lofted a living child) as the victims in all this. Why should they be made to pay for the government's recklessness?
Perhaps because they, along with their parents, reaped the rewards that came their way thanks to the free market economy.
The members of the Teachers' Union of Ireland are threatening to walk off their jobs to protest the cuts. They've promised to make the politicians pay at the polls in the next election, when they'll vote in.....what, exactly? A sudden turn-around in the financial markets that will bring back the good old days?
Industrial action cannot increase the flow of cash into the Exchequer. The teachers can walk picket lines until their feet fall off but a free market giveth and a free market taketh away.
Until the free market returns to a more generous mood, however, Mr. O'Keeffe will continue to be the most unpopular man in the room, and soon, he may be the only one there. Everyone else will be out in front, roaring for more than he has on hand.