The water in the White House fountain is green today and the presidential schedule is loaded up with Irish agenda items. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, when the U.S. chief executive could be forgiven for spelling his name Barack O’Bama.
He’s set to meet with the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen, then attend a Shamrock Ceremony, followed by remarks to the annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon hosted by the office of the House Speaker on Capitol Hill. The president will also meet with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. This evening, there’s a White House St. Patrick’s Day reception.
Irish President Mary McAleese claimed Obama as a son of Ireland, “for sure, for sure,” in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program. “Even if he wasn’t, I think that we would have such faith and hope in him,” she said. “He arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood of great despair. He’s really captured the imagination, particularly of young people, and that’s not easy to do.” McAleese said her son campaigned for Obama.
With a Dublin-like “soft” day in Washington — clouds and occasional rain — there are many who may look to evade the economic gloom. Before his Irish agenda starts, he’ll deliver a statement on the budget. All eyes, not just Irish ones, are looking for a way to stem the outrage against the millions of dollars in “retention” bonuses paid with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars to the troubled insurance giant AIG.
There’s one more Irish name in the news today: Megan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who vied with Obama for the presidency. Megan McCain, now a blogger at The Daily Beast, got into a tussle with conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, who lampooned the 23-year-old McCain as a “plus-sized” Valley Girl.