Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

It's undeniable: Cowen is a big failure as Taoiseach

BRIAN Cowen received a sympathetic and encouraging start when he became Taoiseach last May.

He had the unanimous support of the Fianna Fail Party and organisation. The press gave him an almost ecstatic welcome, parading his supposed merits and strengths and seeing him as head-and-shoulders over any possible rivals. I differed from this, lamenting the fact that there had not been a leadership contest -- always of value in defining a political party's future -- and questioning the poisoned chalice offered by his predecessor. Read More...

'Brians' just tinker with fire extinguishers while we burn

THE reaction of Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan to the current economic crisis has been that of elderly janitors tinkering with out-of-date fire extinguishers while the building burns down around them. Both men have had several months to adjust to the downturn.

This new, shining America makes Europe look woeful

I watched through the middle of the night, the early hours of Wednesday, from three until five, and intermittently after that, as the great United States democratic triumph of ordinary voters took place.It was an inspiring experience. Read More...

Book Review: Brian Cowen: The Path to Power

Book Review: Brian Cowen: The Path to Power, by Jason O’Toole. Transworld, €12.99

Unintentionally, this life of Brian Cowen by Jason O'Toole, is a sad book. It begins with the hubris of confidence and assurance, as Cowen takes over the Dail seat of his father, Ber, and builds a career that seems always to have as its ultimate target him becoming Taoiseach, which indeed happens.

But it ends with the nemesis of two major political defeats -- the Lisbon Treaty and the appallingly badly judged Budget -- and sees the story's hero confronted with what appears to be the Goddess of retribution pointing towards a grim downfall. Read More...