Qui bono?

Once again I was wrong because I did not think ‘things’ could get any stranger.

Mr. Cowen has resigned as leader of FF but intends to remain as a caretaker Taoiseach, all the while citing the benefit of the Nation principally and his party secondarily as the intended beneficiaries of his actions.

But who can possibly gain from this refusal to go on drinking from the poisoned chalice of the Taoiseach-ship?

Any new leader of FF will not be able to bring about any changes of policy because they will not be in office and have scant chance of it after. But to announce new policies will mean repudiating the work they did and supported immediately heretofore.

The new leader will be tarred with the brush of these current failures as well as the unlamented and lamentable Mr. Cowen. So FF will suffer a double loss of leadership over their current incompetence, which is possibly no more than they deserve but is still not helpful for them.

Legally, there should be no obstacle to the idea of the Taoiseach not being the leader of the largest party but the semiotics of this at this juncture are unhelpful. The people and the markets need to see a steady firm hand on the tiller and at this stage a dead hand is preferable to a skittish new unpredictable one.

Mr. Cowen should have done his duty and continued to quaff deep draughts from the poisoned chalice that is his Taoiseach-ship. Instead, he has added to the count of bungled maneuvers and bolted when the normal political processes needed to be reaffirmed and have him stay on to take his reprimand from the people.

Despite all his protestations, this maneuver has be undertaken for the benefit of his party primarily. It will shortly be seen as such and will be another nail in the coffin of FiannaFail. The only remaining issue is how many more will it take to ensure that the beast can finally be buried for evermore.

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