"Pain caucus" vs. "pain electorate" in Ireland
Despair has turned to fury among Irish people over an economic meltdown that has forced them to swallow ever deeper cutbacks and tax increases, while ministers emerge from their luxury state cars to speak of the country having turned a corner.
"We need to hurt them," said Bernadette, a mother of four and owner of a wine importing business that has cut its staff to three from 15, "Unless you hurt them they won't pay any attention to you."
Electorally, that is. I'd argue what Bernadette is talking about is exactly what happened in the 2010 midterms, as huge parts of Obama's base deserted him, and the elders sent him a message on the Cat Food commission. That's why all the R nonsense has as much resonance as the D nonsense (except for the remaining schwärmerei in Obama's rump Ds): Neither legacy party has a mandate, and so all the messaging falls flat.
While voters are likely to elect the mainstream opposition, some will opt for independents or the hard-left nationalist Sinn Fein party.
"They should all be gone. There should be an immediate general election. Everyone is sick of it, said postal worker Gerard Williams, 43. ....
"I'll be voting for independent candidates. The big parties have lost the run of themselves," Williams said as he walked through St Stephen's Green in central Dublin. ....
The Irish Independent said previous comparisons between Cowen and the captain of the Titanic had been unfair: "Even the captain of the Titanic was able to rearrange the deck chairs." ...
"It's the ordinary man in the street, the middle classes, those in the private sector that are paying," said Marion, 57, who worked in a multinational firm for 30 years.
"I didn't benefit from the Celtic Tiger. I lived within my means. Will I even get a pension now?"
The downturn has forced Irish people, particularly young graduates, to seek work abroad, a bitter development for people who thought they had seen the back of mass emigration.
"There are no jobs; all of my son's friends have left," said Bernadette. "They are leaving because this is not a country to live in anymore. The government looked after the banks. For them, it's like we don't exist."
Of course, in a country as large is this one, forms of internal emigration are possible. Which is why the state is stepping up all forms of surveillance, forcing the rent seekers into the middle of every transaction, no matter how small, moving toward internal passport controls with ID checks on transport, and so on and so forth.
NOTE * This is important, since Bush showed that you can rule, if not govern, the country with a base of 30%. Obama's not there yet, but after forcing Social Security cuts through, he will be.