TV stations love a good phone-in vote.
In these tough times, it’s probably the simplest way to get production money around, and if they could they’d have you sms:ing in your votes on Brian Dobson’s tie to help pay for the Six-One News.
But some don’t see it that way. Some see it as votes, and for natural politicians like the Healy-Rae family votes – any kind of votes – are like crack cocaine. They have to have them.
Now I’m not suggesting that Michael is some form of crazed addict, even if his Newstalk interview this morning gave the impression of a cornered crack fiend confronted with his vote addiction.
But after a few minutes, his resolute refusal to address the issue at hand in anything nut the most banal and misleading terms stopped being insulting and became entertaining.
He didn’t answer a single question that was put to him – had he been asked his name, he probably would have deflected that one too.
Given the persistence of the interviewer he had to try several different evasive techniques, everything from the Bart Simpson “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it and you can’t prove anything” to the classic “yerra what harm was it, sure didn’t all the money go to charity,” conveniently ignoring that this is not the way that taxpayer’s money should be routed to a cause, no matter how worthy.
Whether or not Michael organised the telethon in his own interest, or whether his father did it, or whether he is so popular in Leinster House that all his mates felt the need to ring in and support him is now irrelevant.
What is important to note is the contempt that Healy-Rae showed – and shows – for the Irish taxpayer.
Asked a straight question (“do you think that this represents a misuse of taxpayer’s money?”), Healy-Rae answered with a question of his own.
And in doing so, he effectively answered the question. Of course he doesn’t.
It’s the Dáil, and the building and everything in it is there for the Healy-Raes and the Lowrys of this world to do what they like with.
The fact that he later said it was a misuse of taxpayer’s money compounds his stupidity – his decision to do so was brought about not by some road-to-Damascus conversion, but by the outcry over his earlier refusal not to condemn it.
But worst of all, like the despicable Lowry, we’ll probably never see him punished at the polls for it.
Another couple of calls from his Dáil phone, a quick hospital wing and his constituents will forgive him sharp enough.
And his vote addiction will continue unchecked, destroying not just him and his family dynasty, but what little faith people have left in Irish politics.