Opinion: A bit o’ blarney as President O’Bama celebrates St. Patrick’s Day


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First of all, what a great looking tie--a pale green the color of sea foam--that President O’Bama chose to wear today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Brian Cowen, the taoiseach of Ireland. The taoiseach is the equivalent of a prime minister, though much harder to pronounce, obviously. Its literal meaning is ‘chieftain,’ we’ve just learned. (O’Bama, by the way, did not stumble in his pronunciation, according to this on-line guide: ‘tee-shock.’)

O’Bama, who has an ancestor on his mother’s side from the wee Irish town of Moneygall, accepted a spray of shamrocks in a Waterford crystal from Cowen, and managed to crack up himself during his welcome to Cowen, which naturally focused on the close emotional ties between the US and Ireland:


‘Rarely in world history has a nation so small had so large an impact on another. Tens of millions of Americans trace their roots back to the Emerald Isle, and on St. Patrick’s Day, many more claim to. On behalf of them, and all Americans, I thank the Irish people for this gift and for all that they’ve contributed to the chronicles and the character of America. ‘Today is a day for all the people of America and Ireland to celebrate our shared history and our shared future with joy and good cheer. So I can’t think of a better place to take the taoiseach for lunch than the Congress.’

At that point, there were guffaws from the audience, and O’Bama began chuckling. ‘That was good, wasn’t it?’ he said. ‘You like that?’ He concluded his remarks by mentioning that the luncheon is a tradition ‘in which Democrats and Republicans put aside partisanship and unite around one debate only: who is more Irish than whom?’ (More laughter.)

Today, O’Bama also announced his intention to nominate Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Daniel Rooney, 76, as U.S. ambassador to Ireland. For three decades, the White House said, Rooney has played ‘an integral role’ in the Irish peace process. A member of the Pro Football Hall of fame since 2000, he is also known for his effort to diversify NFL front offices with the ‘Rooney Rule,’ which requires teams to interview minority applicants for head coaching jobs. In January, the Steelers became the first NFL team to win six Super Bowl titles.

Oh, and guess who was rooting for them to win?

-- Robin Abcarian

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