Even if he has legitimate anger over Iris Robinson’s famously intemperate outbursts…
Cranmer, however, has a more compassionate response. And he hits the nail on the head regarding precisely why we may be moving inexorably into a post Robinson era:
…perceived is the important word, for this is politics in which seeming is all, and it is why Peter Robinson may have no choice but to voluntarily lay his head upon the block and submit to the inevitable axe. He is not his wifes keeper, but the two manifestly vowed to become one 40 years ago. She is entitled to a private life and so is he, but not when one or the other stands accused of financial impropriety and the failure disclose interests.
Their marriage may be for richer or poorer, but their reputation is in tatters following the revelation that Mrs Robinson enriched herself in contravention of the law. They may be united for better or worse, but they can no longer work together, for the worse will only worsen. Mr Robinson may support his wife in sickness and in health, but it is difficult to argue that this will not be a distraction from his role as First Minister.
As I suggested this morning, this is not a political not a legal crisis… His Grace concludes (in a strange echo of the Boston Globe’s advice to another of our latter day political titans):
There is no doubting that the downfall of Peter Robinson is unjust and his resignation will be a blow to the politics of Northern Ireland. Like Lear, he is a man more sinned against than sinning. But it is time for the First Minister to heal the one he loves, to weep day and night at the side of the one with whom he vowed to remain for better or for worse, until death do them part. And that will require unique patience, obsessive commitment and infinite sensitivity.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty