I rarely listen to Newstalk radio, which has turned into the Daily Mail of Irish broadcasting, its schedules filled with right-leaning or, in the case of the reporter-turned-presenter Paul Williams, positively reactionary hosts. However this morning I caught part of the Breakfast show with the aforementioned journalist and co-host Shane Coleman, as the latter listened to a snippet from an unknown TD’s favourite Christmas song, attempting to match the tune with the politician. In this case he was stumped by the chosen piece, A Spaceman Came Travelling, the 1976 high-concept dirge by Chris de Burgh. It was revealed that the submitted song was a seasonal favourite of An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and as Coleman noted, it joins the Fine Gael leader’s long list of offbeat tastes, including his public enthusiasm for the 2003 romantic comedy, Love Actually.
You have to wonder how much of this “endearingly” suburbanite image is the real Varadkar, the affluent, middle-class yuppie, and how much is the purposely crafted image of his exorbitantly funded Strategic Communications Unit? There is a strong impression with the Dublin West TD that everything he does, from the socks he wears to the television programmes he publicises, is the result of a lengthy decision process by a committee of high-paid spin doctors. There is an artificiality to the present head of government that I don’t quite remember witnessing in previous holders of the office. Even with the self-styled chieftainship of Charles J Haughey. And yet, this is the self-same Taoiseach who has taken the most determined stance against the corrosive interests of the United Kingdom in Ireland’s affairs since the peace process negotiations and contests of the 1990s.
What do others think?