Irish president lambastes right wing US radio DJ over the politics of fear

Irish politicians are justly famed for their scathing wit, and if you've ever wondered why, listen to this clip of Irish president Michael D Higgins flaying alive Michael Graham, a US radio host, graduate of Oral Roberts University and supporter of the Tea Party movement. The recording dates to before Higgins won the presidency, but one imagines that political debate in Eire is a lot of fun these days.

From May 2010, an exchange between Michael D Higgins (who was elected President of Ireland last year) and Tea Party-loving radio guy Michael Graham on Irish radio. Full exchange here.

Michael D Higgins v Michael Graham (via Reddit)


  1. Erin go Bragh!

    Also, I love that there’s a head of state who can publicly call someone out as a “wanker.”

  2. I agree that people should be entitled to healing in a just society. The real problem with ObamaCare is that it puts a middleman in charge. The insurance companies. Money grubbers who can say yay or nay. What I would like to see is free clinics and free hospitals everywhere for everyone. A right to LIFE is a human right and should not require payment to anyone especially an insurance company. ObamaCare is the wrong solution. Actually it is not a solution at all.


      Go crawl back under your rock. Maybe instead of agitating for perfectionism you could recognize that steps in the right direction are better than doing nothing at all (which is leaving things in the pricefixing hands of the medical cartels). There are many people who prefer we not go back to the bad old days, however not-bad and not-old your personal health history makes them.

      1. What I am saying is that you have a sick person and a healer. And people in power put a middleman in between them that has a profit motive. And the middleman (insurance company) can lobby the people in power. It is called instituting corruption. It adds cost with no real benefit. The politicians benefit, the corporation benefits and those benefits are all paid for by the people (aka the patients). Once the system is in place it can be very hard to change it. You can try and tar me with some political scarecrow (DEATHPANELS) title but I stand by my position. 

        1. You’re talking single payer?   It’s not “free.”  We pay for it, through our tax dollars. (Just like all those shudder European countries do.  That’s how they’re all the top 10 health care countries and we’re, what, #17 ?

          The ironic thing is, they had to use budget reconciliation in the senate to pass it anyways (51 votes rather than 67).  So we could’ve had single payer, theoretically. 

          Altho, if you stir up the health care industry’s wrath, perhaps they blast it with hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads and it get cancelled anyway.

          1. Actually single payer was always off the table. The insurance industry had over 3,000 lobbyists working on that bill. It was never going to be an option.

          2. Germany doesn’t have a single-payer, tax-funded system, though. It is, however one of the most expensive ones, iirc.

        2. There’s always going to be a middleman! Corruption is a human failing and as such will show up anywhere, including healthcare industry workers. No part of your position deals with this fact.

    2. Why, in some respects it’s almost as bad as what we had before Obama was elected!

      (But it’s not, so let’s keep it until we can get something better.)

      1. The only difference i noticed is that I get a lot more junk mail for medical insurance. The sharks can smell the blood in the water.

        1. Odd as it may seem, “the vast majority of Americans won’t notice any difference” was actually used as a selling point.

          1. But the insurance companies are going to see a huge benefit. Where do you suppose that money comes from?

      2. I’d like to see, for every commenter complaining that Obamacare isn’t good enough because it still goes through the insurance companies, a link to the history of their comments advocating single payer when this was still in the legislative process. I’m pretty sure that would thin the herd a bit.

        1.  Well, too bad. Because all such comments have mysteriously vanished from known existence. Or maybe it is just that any comment like that was immediately discarded as ‘idealistic’, ‘unrealistic’ and ‘socialist’ by our “leaders”.  Good thing we had Max Baucus on our team calling the shots, right?

          Grrr. Don’t even get me started. Oh, you already did.

        2. Yeah, the thin herd would consist of smug Canadians and Europeans.

          /Wankers Whipping up Fear is going to be my next punk band’s name.

      1. a) Still in the Senate?

        b) Elected to Congress and having their knees replaced by artificial ones, courtesy of the taxpayers.
        ‘Cuz of that constant election finance campaigning does take its toll…

        c) Smoke-free for 12 years, 3 months, thirteen days, and four-and-a-half hours, and “I don’t miss the cigarettes one bit.”

        Which is it, man?

    3.  THE ACA is not the answer but its a staging post on the way to it. The GOP who seem to be in self destruct at the moment will hopefully be weakened enough after the next election to get some real progress

    4. You mean like it is now?

      Obama care at least begs that the insurance companies be forced not to suddenly discover that you’re no longer eligible every time they are required to cough up some cash and draw out the payent so much that they can hope the claimant has succumbed.

      But I agree that the heal care systems of every civilized places is better than the American sham which put access on par with third world countries.

      You NEED a single player system. 

      As it is, billions are wasted by companies writing off using storage facilities in hospitals and playing all sorts of billing games on machines that go ‘ping‘.

    5. Insurance companies are already calling all of the shots. They’re already the gatekeepers and the middlemen, and they’ve bought off the politicians, so they’re still getting benefits. Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it is a force to be reckoned with. The health care companies can’t run the entire game now.

      As far as free health care goes, great idea! So who’s going to pay for that? The government — our government — is the only entity powerful enough to be able to run a non-profit health care system. Will it be imperfect? Yes. But it won’t be paying CEOS multiple hundreds of dollars in salaries and bonuses while jacking health care premiums. And We the People will have the ability to have a say in the system.

    1.  Seriously. That guy was seeing blue diamonds swirling around his head.

      That’s what we need in the Democratic party– someone who fight the ignoramuses and call them on their bullshit.

      1. Democrats would turn their back on somebody speaking that kind of truth to power in an unapologetic way.

  3. Not a fan of Michael D but his heart is in the right place.
    also he’s made of gingerbread:

    micahk don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – whatever Obamacare’s faults it represents a significant advance for millions of US residents.

    off topic referring to Ireland as “Eire” when writing / speaking English is an irritating  britishism.

      1.  As far as I know, the insistance on the use of Eire in certain English circles is because using Ireland implies the entire island and apparently Eire feels like its can be just the south. That is based purely on anecdote though.

          1. 10 years living in “the states” and I have never heard an American refer to Ireland as “Eire”. My guess is very few Americans – even the ones called “Erin” have ever heard the word.

          2. There is more than one republic in the world and the Republic of Ireland is not the name of your country. Your country is named Ireland / Eire.

          3. I imagine “the Republic” doesn’t carry enough specificity to let people know what country you’re talking about except when used within a fairly limited context, and certainly not within the United States.

            It’s like how in the U.S. people sometimes use “the city” to refer to New York or San Francisco as long as they are in the general area, but wouldn’t use it that way if more than 50 miles or so from the city they were referring to.

          4.  Ara, call it Ireland. Lots of countries are republics.
            People from the Czech republic simply call their country Czech. Our country is Ireland.
            Oh and Michael D. Higgins rocks!

      2. Éire is the official name of the Republic of Ireland, a term which describes the country of which Michael D. is currently president.  It honestly seems (to me) a little bizarre to refer to it as a britishism.  If it’s not much used in Irish English, it’s because it would be redundant: we just say “the Government” rather than “the Government of Éire” (or “that pack of wankers”)…  I would accept the dropping in of the official name of the country in its first official language, or indeed any other words of Irish, as a sign of respect rather than a “britishism”.  (Seriously, britishism? Huh?)

        1.  For those who want to learn the language:

          Ireland (Éire or Éireann) is named after the Goddess Éirú.
          Right now I’m reading An Hobad (The Hobbit) in Irish and it honestly sound better than the English language version.

          What really is a British inheritance is feeling awkward when people use words in Irish. That’s a shame.
          Love my language.
          Love my president.
          Awesome, Micheal D!

      3.  Ah Steve, be proud of your language. I know we were taught it was inferior by the British but we can hold our heads up now.
        Labhair í agus mairfidh sí.
        Speak it and it will survive.
        Throw off yer inhibitions for the sake of your culture.
        Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.
        A country without a language is a country without a soul.
        Michael D Higgins go deo (forever)!

    1. I completely agree with you on the Eire thing, its like referring to Germany as Deutchland when writing in English.

      I dont see anything wrong with insisting on a state run health system in your country though. From what I understand of it, Obamacare is an improvement but wont function anything like an actual socialist health care system. I live in country where such a system exists. I cant imagine living without it.

      I said hello to Michael D in a supermarket once and he totally blanked me. Wanker.

        1. Last year my boss gave me a modest raise. I told him it was completely unaccetable and demanded 4 times that raise. I didnt demand my salary stay at its original level until my desired raise manifested itself however.

      1. Sometimes I do refer to Germany as Deutschland.  I lived there for a year; calling it Deutschland (in certain contexts) is funny and sweet.

    2. English people used to say ‘Eire’ because they didn’t refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of “the Republic of Ireland”. DeargDoom you come across as very arrogant “your country is called..” You seem to be ignorant of this historical fact.It’s quite simple don’t call it Eire unless you speak Irish. Otherwise it’s Ireland, thanks.

      1. Well for sure you dont speak Irish since my username apparantly didnt give my nationality away. Also you clearly need to reread my comments. You utterly misunderstood what i was saying

      2. Can we call it Éire if we speak Irish?  Is that alright with you Mr Someguyyouvenevermet?  Do we have your permission to use the official name of our country?  Thanks.  Oh, what if we only speak a little Irish, would that be OK?  Oh, hold on, Éire is an Irish word.  What if that’s the only Irish word we know… does that entitle us to use it?  What if some of us who do speak Irish are trying really hard to encourage other people to use what little Irish they have as often as they can…

    3. Our Constitution declares that “The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland” (Article 4). so in reality it’s precisely the opposite of a “irritating britishism”, as it is one of the few Irish words that the British correctly incorporated into their speech.

      1.  The use of terms like “Eire” or “Southern Ireland” rather than “Ireland” by papers like the Telegraph and Mail and certain UK politicans was (is? I don’t see right-wing UK media anymore) part of a refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Irish state and the terms the Govt of Ireland uses. Something that persisted in UK government circles up until at least the end of the Thatcher governments. I realise that many British people may refer to Ireland as “Eire” without intending to offend. I don’t think I have ever heard an Irish person refer to the country as “Eire” while speaking English.

        1. Well either way, you should be thankful to have such a contented, trouble free life, for this to even register as an issue for you.

          1. Yeah I am aware of how privileged I am and how inconsequential issues like this or say “FYROM” / “Macedonia” must appear to many people.
            But I am also aware of the power of language and symbols, how they can be used to empower or disempower and how vital they are to an individual or national identity. There might also an element of privilege  in dismissing people’s concerns about language and symbol?

        2. Hal, OK, we don’t refer to Ireland as Éire in English.  But Cory’s use of the correct, official name of the country in the first official language was rather sweet.  Let’s not slag him off for it.

      1. The only one of those terms I hear frequently is Cymru, almost always in the context of S4C, BBC Cymru, Plaid Cymru where the intent is to promote Welsh culture rather than belittle it. I would point Cory to the Guardian style manual where his editors would not allow this usage of “Eire” to pass.

        1. Since when should BoingBoing refer to the Guardain stiel manaul?

          (p.s. the Grauniad’s insistence on Republic of Ireland (or Irish Republic) was, arguably, a de facto refusal to acknowledge any claim to the six northern counties…)

          1. Relevant because Cory frequently writes a column for the Guardian?
            Their style is to use Ireland and Irish Republic. Sometimes a form is required to distinguish between the state and the island and “Irish Republic” seems like a reasonable compromise that conforms to usage in Ireland. iirc “Republic of Ireland” is a FIFA coinage.

          2. I know why it’s relevant; I was pointing out that this, wherever else Cory writes, is not the Guardian.
            From the Guardian style guide 
            no: say Republic of Ireland or Irish Republic

            Obviously, though, they say Ireland when they mean Ireland, but we were talking about the use of Éire.

            I fully understand your point, Hal, and you’re not wrong; I just don’t think it’s nice to accuse Cory, who was also not wrong  (and who is now British) of a “britishism” (which is a loaded term in the context of Ireland) for using a term which I and many other Irish people would take no offence at in any way.  I welcome it; I’d like to see more Irish being used everywhere.  If the best people can do is drop the odd word into English sentences then bring it on.

    4.  It doesn’t make me cringe at all. I love our language and am glad when people throw in a word or two of it in a sentence.
      Maith agat = thank you.
      The Goddess Éirú would be proud ♥

  4. I need to move to Ireland. I wish we had a guy like this as a head of state instead of a bland power broker like Merkel or  a vain ex-pastor like Gauck. 

  5. Higgins should never again have to pay for his Guinness.

    Can’t we say he was born in Limerick, PA?  Higgins 2016!

    1. How ’bout this: a week after taking office, he cut his own salary by 23.5%.  Surely the guy must have his faults, but I’m having trouble finding ways in which the 5’4″ Higgins doesn’t tower over our Yankee pols in terms of character.  Anyone got some mud to fling at the guy?

  6. It’s refreshing sure, but it’s the same angry rant where another speaker can’t get a word in edge wise that will most likely devolve into a shouting match.

    It feels like there’s no political discourse anymore.  Just petulant wankers yelling at one another.

    In short: less wanking more talking, please.

      1. Well, just so long as I get to decide who the adults are.

        Thanks for the context.  That is a steaming pile to have to put up with and I don’t know that I could either, really.  I think it’s just the election year here that’s making me so crazy.

    1. The right has perfected the art of yelling over their guests for thirty years now. You just made the “both sides are bad” argument.

      Maybe, but one side is infinitely worse. I’d like more progressive yelling, thanks.

      1. The proper term for that is: the “Black and white” logical fallacy, which goes something like; “If one side says ‘black’ and if the opposing side says ‘white’ the truth must be some shade of ‘grey'” which is quite the trick …in that, it take the position of ‘fairness’ while being unfair, due to either intellectual laziness or outright dishonesty  (“Fair and Balanced™“).

        It’s a favorite tool of the propagandist because they can use their already unclean hands to smear the opposition.

    2. This is also just one clip that doesn’t reflect the extent of their conversation, Graham had plenty of opportunity for rebuttal (though probably not the data or reasoning or oration skills to do so successfully).

  7. The image reminds me of those balcony hecklers from the Muppets.  And i suspect he would take said comparison as a compliment.

    1. Éireann is the genitive case.  
      Nominative/accusative: Éire. 
      Vocative: a Éire.  
      Dative: Éirinn

      Truly, tho, it is Paddy not Patty.  Unless you mean Patricia…

  8. I don’t know anything else about this guy, but this speech would make me follow him to a battlefield with my bare hands.

  9. I saw this yesterday, and I did not know how to get it on Boing Boing.  I am so thrilled it is here.I love the Irish, I love this guy and I only wish I were one tenth as eloquent.  I work with the Irish everyday, and they know our politics better than we know our politics.  This guy is a poet.  The head line read the day after he was elected “Activist, Poet elected President of Ireland.”

  10. If only this guy had been in office when Ireland sold their future off to these shitball bankers :(

    As a libertarian, I’m more inclined to support an anti-war liberal than a pro-war conservative, because war is really really expensive and really really important. 

    1. Libertarians were the biggest boosters of the neoliberal banker agenda in Ireland.  They’ve since been desperately trying to scrub all their “Celtic Tiger” think tank pieces of the internet..

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