Can Michael D. Higgins Make Up The Rules As He Goes Along?

The Irish President acts as a national figurehead: the representative of the Irish people, regardless of their political beliefs, religion, or ethnic background. Immediately after his election, however, Michael D. Higgins made it clear that there were some people he would not be representing. This was his October 2011 interview on the Morning Ireland radio program, where he blamed the heterodox Austrian School of Economics for influencing the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and, bizarrely, claiming they caused credit to be too cheap during Ireland’s boom period.

An even bigger breach of Presidential protocol came in February of 2012. At a talk at the LSE, Higgins condemned the privatization of services, the day before the Irish government announced a round of privatization measures and the possibility of selling its shares in Aer Lingus. Here, he was very blunt: “[privatization] is the road back to autocracy, in which a hollowed-out state is bereft of anything meaningful to attract the support of the citizen – especially the marginalized  excluded from the mainstream of society”.

Now, in the course of two days, Michael D. Higgins has decided to involve himself in two important matters. On the 21st he called for an investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar. The Irish government has declined to comment. While expressing remorse to victims of tragedy is common enough, Higgins is suggesting a particular course of action in response. I cannot recall Mary McAleese ever doing this, though as we all know she her lapses in conduct.

Today, Higgins has taken up his sword once more, to do battle against “right-wing economists” that supposedly  “have created a neo-liberal philosophy that seemingly cannot now be questioned and that leaves control in the hands of a faceless market”.

This is uncalled for, and Higgins should be reprimanded for it. Higgins is no longer a TD.  His new role is one that is supposed to be above politics and controversy; a republican equivalent of the Queen of England. It would be shocking for Queen Elizabeth II to express hardline left-wing views on economic policy (as well as right-wing ones for that matter). No President of Ireland had such disregard for protocol. Not even Mary Robinson.

Of course, Higgins does share an important trait with Robinson, in that they are both prominent members of the Irish left. Higgins in particular has far more loyalty to the teachings of Marx, Shaw, and the Webbs that he does to the Irish Constitution. These people have absolutely no respect for existing Irish institutions if they are deemed incompatible with the socialist state they wish to build.

If President Dana Rosemary Scallon were acting in this way, you can be sure it would be making the front pages.

Maybe one day there will be a conservative President who will promote his or her own political views as much Michael D. Higgins. That would not be  a good thing. But that person could always point to Higgins for precedent.

With the shadow that will always hang over his election ‘victory’, I would be a lot more careful.


About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

6 Responses to Can Michael D. Higgins Make Up The Rules As He Goes Along?

  1. authenticfrontiergibberish says:

    Oh, but how could I forget?

    • Higgins was idiotic in that debate. Firstly, he seems to believe that the tens of millions who are uninsured in America are without healthcare. This is nonsense. I mention this point here.

      Also, in the full debate he repeats several times the lie that no rockets were fired at Israel in the months before Cast Lead (87 were fired two days before the Israeli offensive in Hamas’s Operation Oil Stain, Michael).

      I don’t think Michael Graham is a particular interesting figure, but Higgins just ranted about the Tea Party and Sarah Palin when nobody else was mentioning them.

      • authenticfrontiergibberish says:

        Personally, I would regard the distinction between receiving emergency care only, where its costs are likely to drive the uninsured into penury, or further in to penury, to be the functional equivalent of being without healthcare. This is doubly so, given the fact that procedures that wouldn’t fall into the “emergency” category dramatically improve life expectancy and quality of life. A disingenuous argument.

        Also, many lies are told about rockets from Gaza, I’d tend to forgive Michael D a little confusion on the topic:

  2. authenticfrontiergibberish says:

    The reason that nobody’s complaining about Michael D’s views on the Austrian hocus pocus and privatisation (note the s), is that there is a vast groundswell of people who share these views.

    I’m glad that he’s making a stand against market hegemony and the associated madness of the past couple of decades, it represents a consensus view across Irish society.

    As for a “shadow” over his “victory”, the only reason that anyone even considered voting for Seánín G was that he lied about his background and beliefs – as soon as people began to cotton on to who he was and what he stands for, his support evaporated. He’s lucky that he has the rogue tweet to cling to, the way things were shaping up he was heading on a road to revealing himself to be unqualified for Dragons’ Den, never mind the Presidency.

    I’m proud for this man to represent me:

    • But a lot of what he says about Austrian Economics is simply wrong. Austrian Schoolers have been railing against the artificial expansion of credit for a very long time now. If Higgins wants to spout such views, somebody should have the opportunity to challenge him publicly on his points, too.

      If you want somebody like Higgins to represent you, then you elect him or her to the Dail or Seanad. Higgins is not supposed to be doing this kind of thing as President. No doubt you’d be saying this too, if there were a Hayekian President making his views known in such a vocal manner.

      • authenticfrontiergibberish says:

        I would no doubt be arguing the patent wrongheadedness of such a President’s positions, I don’t recall having questioned this site’s, or anyone else’s, right to do likewise towards Michael D.

        Two problems with your approach, however: firstly, the title of your article is misleading. There’s no constitutional injunction, or any other rule to prevent the president from expressing a view on matters of political or economic philosophy. Second, the quotation marks around victory are superfluous, and just a little bitter, given that almost 40% of the electorate voted for this man.

        Engage with the substance of his remarks, by all means, but preferring snide sniping at the legitimacy of his office and his right to speak on these matters would seem to indicate a lack of confidence in winning the argument on the author’s part.

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