Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Greatest Sport Of All

I have a bet with a friend. Made many moons ago, with still many moons to pass before the victor is decided, it centers on politics. More specifically, whether Hillary Clinton is going to run for President in 2016. When - for that's how sure I am that she will - Clinton announces her candidacy, I will be fifty euro better off but more importantly, can do a victory dance with my rightness. 

This week and last, the Irish news agenda has been dominated by the impending cabinet reshuffle. The overture of change has tinkled in the background since the local elections. This week, it will climax into a crescendo when the Taoiseach, and freshly-appointed Tánaiste, announce the new season line-up. 

                              Photo: Sam Boal, Photocall Ireland

It's Christmas-come-early for political animals and the rumour mill is in overdrive. Who will get what, who's in and who's out, what victor will claim the spoils. It's sweet relief that my Twitter feed is filled with fantasy picks of a political nature as opposed to the seemingly never-ending football being played in the World Cup

Each new story adds to the excitement. Noonan expects a "significant" reshuffle. It's widely believed that James Reilly will lose Health. Ruairí Quinn jumped before he was pushed. It's known that Joan Burton, newly elected Labour Party leader, wants the jobs portfolio for her party - but it's less clear whether she'll get what she wants. Varadkar is practically foaming at the mouth at the possibility of getting out of Transport.

Kenny and Burton are resuming discussion of policy, elevations, and demotions, after today's Cabinet meeting. When the success stories are announced, there will be no escape from the media storm.

Further afield, USA Today splashed with a lead about the potential make-up of Clinton's 2016 bid; making the interesting suggestion that the former Secretary of State would be better modelling her campaign off Republican John McCain's 2008 strategy than that of Obama's. 

                             Photo: Paula Bronstein, Getty Images 

Despite the US election being two years away, people and news outlets continuously buzz with gossip of who will rise and who will fall. Can Clinton shake off the scandal of Benghazi? Will the Republicans run a female candidate? What issues will divide and which will decide?  

Politics - domestic and international - is a game of human chess. It's GoT come to life, with less murder and (public) cursing. It's far more exhilarating and stimulating than a game of football will ever be, because the outcomes actually matter. 

Political speculation is a delightful parlour game. Even those who don't normally enjoy debates about government and power get caught up in the fever. In this play, anything is possible and such events create an inclusiveness of the topic that, except with elections and scandals, isn't normally present. It broadens the horizon of water-cooler talk beyond Garth Brooks and Kimye's honeymoon

It boggles my mind when people say that politics is boring. Certainly, there are some elements of it which don't lend to titillating conversation; jargon-filled press releases, heavy with statistics and mind-numbing details elicit a yawn from even the most devout of us. 

But when it's good, it's very good. The sea of change sweeps over each grain of sand as bodies are thrown to the waves and others are rescued from exile. The negotiations and trading, promises and back-scratching, the potential return of prodigal children, the Berlin Wall erected around those who have failed - it quickens the pulse, it stimulates the mind, it is the most addictive taste to pass your lips. 

Politics is an immortal beast. Forget the winner of the final on Sunday; the winners - for the moment - of this political shake-up will be far more intriguing. 

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