Category: Archive

Editorial Open house

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Expectations are rising this week that St. Patrick’s Day activities in and around the White House will be both festive and substantial. This is to be welcomed. Fears were expressed by some in recent weeks that the Bush administration was inclined to be less engaged in the annual political jamboree in Washington centered on March 17.

More recently, however, there have been indications that the White House will play a role in marking the importance of the day, not just in purely social terms, but in an overtly political sense too.

Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen was certainly feeling sanguine about the state of U.S. involvement in the peace process after his visit to Washington last week. Cowen was of the view that President Bush had indicated a genuine personal interest in Northern Ireland and that, contrary to some previous assertions, the Bush administration is prepared to offer the prestige of the president’s office to help in the quest for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

Cowen said that he was heartened by what he had heard in meetings with top administration officials. The minister is widely viewed as a savvy politician and his assessment of Washington’s mood carries weight.

It should be remembered that President Clinton registered little activity on Ireland in his first couple of St. Patrick’s Days in the White House.

At the same time, President Bush faces an entirely different situation in that there is now a peace process to win or lose. In that sense, there is little room for excessive insouciance in the Oval Office.

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As for a White House party? Some would undoubtedly question the true significance of a gathering that, to any neutral observer, appears to be entirely a social affair. That, however, is not the case. The political importance of a gathering in the White House would immediately be demonstrated by the significance some would attach to the absence of such an event.

There has been, and there remains, a substantial political glint in all the glitter. As stated, the gathering political momentum in Washington this St. Patrick’s day is to be warmly welcomed. And if people, including President Bush, have a good time to boot, so much the better.

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