Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A pressing engagement?

Bill Clinton is coming to Ireland for the 10th anniversary observance of the Good Friday Agreement. That will be around 10 April (the religious calendar is very early this year). One wonders if Hillary will come. If she's still in the race, the last big primary will be in Pennsylvania on the 22nd. Conversely, will Bill want to risk being away too long in the heat of a race in a state in which he is popular?

On the other hand, it just might be that April 2008 will be the swansong of those who are still around from the 1998 deal, and very much in love with their collective involvement in it. Even by the personality cult standards of Fianna Fail, Bertie Ahern may finally have worn out his welcome, notwithstanding his ambition to be around as Taoiseach till 2012, unless he's already vaulted into the EU Council Presidency by then. His planned address to the US Congress on 30 April could be a valedictory speech.

By then, it will also likely be clear whether Bill is back in the White House from January 2009 -- with signs increasingly indicating not. So what might have looked like an interregnum in the era of Bertie/Bill backslapping may in fact be a farewell for both of them.

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