Gerry Adams ‘tweets’ and that “streak of sentimentality that marks the totalitarian mind”?

Awright, I’m not really sure to do with this, except to say this oddly narcissistic video from The Journal has gone somewhat viral…

In lieu of any coherent response from me, here’s Henry McDonald with his take on the general phenomenon…

…like every other move Adams has made both inside and outside the republican movement, these tweets are carefully considered and released at strategic times.

Is it the height of cynicism to suggest that the headline-grabbing nude-man-and-dog bouncing act was tweeted at a time when his party was under fire for supporting a UK Treasury-imposed cost-cutting agenda in Northern Ireland?

So, when the media should have been posing questions on the dichotomy between Sinn Fein opposing spending cuts in the Republic, while simultaneously, alongside their partners in the DUP, imposing them in Northern Ireland, instead the Press and broadcasters were fixated on one nude man and his dog.

You might think that this alleged manipulation of Twitter is far too Machiavellian, but that is to misunderstood the ultimate Machiavelli of modern times.

Because, since coming to power within Sinn Fein following the hunger strikes and the entry of the party into electoral politics, Adams has been the master of manipulating news agendas, as well as steering the movement in directions no one ever expected it to go.

Aside from specific events and policies that might cause embarrassment for the party, the use of Twitter by Adams is a useful ongoing exercise in repackaging the Sinn Fein president.

In his tweets, he can portray himself as cuddly, mildly eccentric and that most cliched, over-played, exaggerated virtue of all in Irish life, good craic.

The tweets about rubber ducks, teddy bears and bouncing about in the nip with your grandchildren’s dog creates a soft focus and takes the edge of someone who, in the past, has had a truculent, wolfish public image.

The recalibration of Adams’ image is specifically designed to make the Sinn Fein president less threatening and more huggable to that critical segment of the southern Irish electorate known as “Middle Ireland”.

To which Anthony McIntyre had already added

…even with having read McDonald’s piece there is a part of me that feels Adams does it because he can; a master of stretching human credulity, he is endlessly fascinated by the nonsense that people will say they believe. He has long discovered Karl Kraus’s “secret of the demagogue” which is “to make himself as stupid as his audience so that they believe they are as clever as he.”

He is conveying to the press the contempt with which he views it: throwing it a meagre morsel that will have it haring off digging up dog bones rather than the human bones Adams is more associated with in the public mind.

There is also the sense that he is taking the piss out of his own followers, to whom he has applied Frank Dane’s old witticism ‘get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.’

They in turn will trip over themselves in the rush to get to the International Wall on Belfast’s Falls Road to hurriedly paint murals of the Great Trampolinist, only for some Lower Falls wit to come along in their wake and daub out the ‘olinist’ to cries of ‘heretic and blasphemer.’

Adams might not get an Oscar for his version of Dances With Wolves, but it is good acting nonetheless. And all the time the novelist John Banville’s “streak of sentimentality that marks the totalitarian mind” continues to be nurtured while the audience is busy watching the circus.

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  • Barneyt

    This was always going to go one of two ways….Either “he’s lost it and its all a bit Rolf Harris”, or, as this article and many would suspect, “he’s being clever and is manipulating a cosy eccentric fun pet loving granda image”. It does present him in a different light for sure.

    With regard to the Trampoline story, I think the media made the connection between trampolining naked, and trampolining naked specifially with his dog?. There is also a wry snigger in the audio too, so more fool the media for running with it. It also had impact across the water too.

    It was so off-beat, his opposing TDs could not bring it up without giving him (ironically) positive attention and distracting the electorate from the image they would prefer to have promulgated. It didn’t even get a mention on this site, until now (as far as I can see), so perhaps there was a similar motivation here.

    What next? This “make me cuddly” strategy is a bit risky, as it could present as “odd”, but for now, its not doing any harm.

  • aber1991

    What point is Mr Fealty trying to make?

    Sinn Fein agreed to Welfare reform because they had no option. As Mrs Thatcher put it “Sooner or later one runs out of other people’s money.”

    I have no doubt that any future government of Eire, whether including Sinn Fein or not, will quickly learn that same lesson – just as the new Greek government has learned within a very few weeks – just at the Eire Labour Party learned. Before the last general election in Eire, the Labour Party leader, a Mr Gilmore, was promising that the country would be ruled in Labour’s way, not Frankfurt’s way. Once elected, he and his Labour cronies proceeded to help Fine Gael govern Eire in Frankfurt’s way.

    He who pays the piper will call the tune.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Surely his tweets are a laugh, and perhaps he is an interesting character but I have no confidence in either him or his party.

  • Ernekid

    I wonder what the Gerry Adams of 1975 would make of the Gerry Adams of 2015?

  • Niall Noígíallach

    #gerryadamsatemyhamster

  • Gerrynearly

    I have a book of political cartoons from 2014 and there’s one (from the Telegraph I think??) of modern cuddly grey bearded Gerry answering the door in his cardigan/aran jumper to a 1970s Gerry in beret and black combat fatigues who is saying ‘I haven’t gone away you know’. I thought it was quite interesting.

  • Jon Hope

    I’d assumed this was a take on “Celebrities reading mean tweets” from the Jimmy Kimmel show rather than something “narcissistic” that Gerry had come up with. IIRC he was invited into the office to do it.

  • sean treacy

    Blogger with anti Adams obsession invokes ex sticky journalist and then turns to Disso blogger to bolster his case.zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Guest

    .

  • Dan

    He knows his fawning sheep love it. He can do anything, say anything and they’ll lap it up.
    Everyone else just take the tweets as further example of him being an emptyhead.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    There was a cartoon illustrated version of gerrys madder tweets, doing the rounds on Facebook. Very funny. But I think it would be stretching things to say the leader of a party making a burk out of himself, was some sort of master stroke of planning. It happens so often it’s bound to coincide with something !

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Sounds like he has the correct spelling ?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Brilliant!!!

  • Ernekid

    What’s this? extremely high voltage? Well I don’t need safety gloves! Because I’m Homer Simp!….

  • Robin Keogh

    If we look a bit deeper into this we see that GA is having the same success antagonising the media as he is the traditional Political establishment. The politicians cant stem the green tide even when they nakedly bandwagon on sensitive issues while the media cant break through the wall of secrecy that surrounds internal party discussions and disagreements. In both instances we see tantrums manifest in desperate efforts to turn the SF machine upside down with GA buried at the bottom. For us shinners it is no longer cause for concern, but it is highly entertaining. Incompetent politics and hooligan joutnalism has been faced down by GA and the broader Republican family, so much so that now, even Fine Gael refuse to blankly rule out coalition with the naked trampoline man. So, rather than adopt the predictable cynical view espoused by the usual anti adams suspects, it is entirely possible that what we are seeing is simply a refusal on the part of GA to blindly follow constructed behavioural expectations in the context of his societal position and simply behave in a way that better reflects his own real self. And why not, everything has been thrown at him; murderer, abuse cover ups, dictator, liar etc etc. Whats left? What can possibly be thrown at him to knock him down that hasnt been tried before. Simply put, by being his true self – as odd or quirky as it may seem – he has nothing to lose.

  • Tacapall

    I have to say McDonald is a bit slow on the uptake so is Mick for that matter and I guess McDonald is a respected something or other but anyhoo, whats the odds Gerry is being shoe horned into the, God love him mode, sure he’s going the same way as old Albert Reynolds (the Boss) as Gerry called him, give him his rocking chair and his porch and let him tweet away till his hearts content.

  • mickfealty

    I wish some of your party colleagues had the same sense of wit and humour on the Twittersphere Robin. As for the wall of secrecy, that brings its own benefits and problems. One of the problems is that it makes it much harder for people on the outside to figure what motivates those who join the party.

    Lots of things have been thrown at Gerry, it’s true. The grave stuff is not the mass murdering of the Troubles, most of us buried that with the Belfast Agreement but the child abuse stuff to which the party seems to have wilfully blinded itself to: much after the fashion of Enron to my own eyes, though I accept you will see it differently.

    I suppose we should (for the sake of our collective sanities) admit to the fact that not telling anyone what you might do before getting into power in Ireland is an old trait, and increasingly widespread. The concretised nature of Syriza’s Thessaloniki manifesto may come back to haunt Tspiras in the coming months. But at least we know what he meant to do.

    With SF, I suppose what you are telling us is that we won’t until they are in power. In the meantime I guess we’ll have to guess what this Delphic oracle (a babbling old woman in Greek days) really means to tell us, about us, about him and our futures..

  • Tochais Siorai

    He’d have shot him…………..Only joking, he wouldn’t.
    .
    He’d have told someone else to shoot him.

  • mickfealty

    You are the weakest link ‘Sean’, goodbye…

  • Robin Keogh

    Well i have no party colleagues in SF just yet but i hope to be a card carrying member pretty soon.

    As a Dub i accept that my view of GA is driven in the main given my own surroundings and in the context of a frightened media and pokitical elite who are awate that their positions of power awarded by a historical neo liberal trajectory are under threat. The cock up that is ‘the North’ allows myself and many others to judge the behaviour of Republicans, loyalists and indeed the British with an intellectual detachment.

    I am clear as what SF will do in government based on my study of the partys proposals. What i am not so clear about is what impact they might have internationally and to what extent exogenous forces will try to tame the monster. Domestically there is no doubt thst their will a swing to left wing progressive sicial democratic values which i very much welcome.

    Greece is stuck on an iceberg at the moment surrounded by a very angry and unforgiving ocean of economic terrorists. They might appear to have rolled back but in reality they are really buying time untill a spanish or portugese pulls up to support them. Both countries have elections this autumn so its no surprise that europe have only agreed to extend the programme for four months in order to avoid colliding with the upcoming elections. Lets not be fooled, Syriza has the intelkigently sneaky personnel on board to woo the executioner while secretly setting up their own guilitine.

    I understand the theory that all partys eventually converge ideologically and thereby dilute their promises in line with the ascending discourse. So long we have been stuck in the haze of the Reagon/thatcherite hangover, it seems impossible to believe that the popular political economic group think could be subverted to allow for a more egalitarian and more effective domestic and super national political evolution. However, all things good or bad must end, to be replaced by something different that too will run its course. I think we are fast approaching that defining moment.

  • mickfealty

    Good man… You might take my northern scepticism with the bucket of salt it no doubt deserves.. but the party’s record of changing things has thus far been largely restricted almost entirely to its fortunes at the polls…

    I don’t at all disagree with you about the Reaganite/Thatcherite groupthink, but personally I’m of the opinion that the “I have a cunning but completely secret plan..” schtick is vastly overrated as an agent of actual social and political change…

  • Robin Keogh

    ..its worked for SF…arguably?

  • mickfealty

    Yep. For the party.

  • kensei

    The onlynthing of note here is the madness Adams can induce in the media seemingly regardless of what he does, Slugger includ. If jrs deliberate, he’s an absolute genius.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    This man has been defying all the Queen’s horses, media men and ‘forces of oppression’ for decades, an incredible feat.

    Everything from mum-murdering, mass murder, paedo-rapist covering, Troubles starting to mafia godfather has been thrown at him, we can see here that some posters are a little bit more sympathetic to SF each time a #GerryAdamsAteMyHamster post comes around (yes, thanks Niall…)

    Not only has it not stuck it has now got to the stage where all criticism makes him stronger (like thon black blob of evil in the 5th Element every time they shoot at it).

    Such things would cripple politicians in other countries, not in the wee six.

    Ergo, common sense dictates a change in strategy.

    If Slugger wants to damage SF (though I don’t think they do, SF just invites criticism so much) then the best thing Slugger could do is NOT to post things about SF.

    If unionists wanted to hurt SF then they could deprive SF of their various air supplies:

    1/ Political: SF could advocate the use of children’s corpses as aphrodisiacs in January only to find the outrage and horror has subsided because Pete, Alex, Dim, Georgie and Billy Goat Billy Boy want to march up a street they’re not welcome in (baited by SF, oddly enough) and all the world is directed to see how bad us Prods are.

    Point for Gerry(s)

    2/ Cultural: As long as unionists deny their Irish heritage and surrender it to nationalism (ironically the polar opposite to hero Edward Carson) then that just props up the international view that there is a bunch of English people squatting in Ireland, as opposed to being Irish born people with every right under the sun to remain in Ulster and choose their own political allegiance.

    3/ Sporting and Fleggy: If the IFA had a Northern Irish flag and a Northern Irish anthem for Northern Irish people then we might find less Northern Irish people supporting the Republic and therefore supporting Irish nationalism.

    Do you really think Gerry Adams is opposed to GSQ and the Ulster flag at NI games?!!!

    There’s probably nothing else in this world that gives him greater comfort. (OK, an exaggeration, but it’s definitely up there).

    Why should Gerry be serious? Unionism isn’t, so expect him to respond in kind.

    It’s getting to the stage where he’ll be putting Sooty, Soo and Sweep up for election, for the unionists will do the leg work and the Shinner bots will over look Sooty’s dark past (Matthew was no angel, you know it….)

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Why has someone deleted Guest’s comment that I replied to? You totally ruined my joke !

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Was that the ‘Eire – Éire’ comment? If so, very witty.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Pure genius Kensei, LOL !

    “Every1 else gotta strawberry on their Pavlova except me!! Why?”

    “Dreamt I was eating Cream Eggs. Woke up this morn. Pillow & beard covered in chocolate & cream thingymebob.”

    “My favourite rapper is meself.”

  • Zeno

    LOL

  • Superfluous

    Regarding your two way cat fight, it reminds me of Orwell’s essay ‘Notes on Nationalism’, and in particular this quote:

    “If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognize that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes.”

    It seems that Robin hasn’t even tried to prevent them from contaminating his mental processes, and Mick’s constant bashing of Sinn Fein is maybe trying a bit too hard…

    (apologies Mick, I do concede there’s a good chance you may actually hate Sinn Fein for genuine reasons, and not just be overcompensating for your own nationalist background.)

  • Starviking

    Well they knew they had no option on welfare reform from the start, but decided to play obstinate for votes – and cost us a couple of hundred million.

  • kalista63

    I remember the first time I saw his tweets and I sent a message to Caral Ni Cuilin, asking if he had been hacked. She sent a light hearted reply saying, that’s just what he’s like. Perhaps we might have more light of we had someone on here who actually knows him personally.

    There’s certainly a puritan attitude to republicans, especially ex prisoners, that they are not entitled to have fun ( see stupid chuckle brothers comments) or to have a successful life afterwards, such as the scorn poured pn Pat Sheehan for having a property portfolio, which is odd as the leading party is obsessed with property.

    As John Mooney says and I’m finding out in my fifties, you just don’t take things so seriously and you are brilliantly liberated from giving a toss about what anyone thinks.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Maybe it is just the obvious explanation.
    It is a type of manipulative narcissism that is a well established personality trait exhibited by psychopaths.

  • Niall Noígíallach

    Thanks for the mention AG, however I would take exception to point 3 in your post:

    “3/ Sporting and Fleggy: If the IFA had a Northern Irish flag and a Northern Irish anthem for Northern Irish people then we might find less Northern Irish people supporting the Republic and therefore supporting Irish nationalism.”

    A lot of nationalists in the North do not follow the Republic’s football team because the North play GSQ and have the Ulster banner as their flag, it’s actually more probobly because the Republic play the nationalist’s national anthem and have the nationalist’s national flag as their own. If you want to dig a bit deeper into why nationalists don’t have much affection for the IFA’s team, take a wee look into what happened to Derry City and how they were treated, Belfast Celtic also. Without getting drawn into a sporting discussion too much, there are a few articles that give an insight into what the IFA need to do in order to attract more nationalist support

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/david-conn-inside-sport-blog/2011/feb/23/belfast-celtic-ifa

    http://www.derryjournal.com/sport/gaelic-games/brolly-s-bites-michael-s-futile-mission-is-missing-the-whole-point-1-3439417

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Great line from John Banville, that, about the link between demagogery and sentimentality. The hyped-up saccharine emotions provide moral blinkers for the self-righteous mission.

    As you order another death, it must help to hark back to how deeply hurt you once felt by a slight; how you well up when you think of the little children (the ones in your own life, not the ones you’ve killed of course). “I know I am a feeling, passionate person, not a monster – I cry and laugh like everyone else,” you reason. “In fact, I’m *more* acutely feeling and passionate than other people. I see and feels things more intensely than they do. So I have to do tough things they don’t have the courage to do. Really, I am heroic.”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Howdy Niall

    Forgive the hair splitting but I would take the stance that bona fide nationalists will support the Republic full stop?

    My point would apply to those who are middle of the road but are understandably repelled by the overly-British (or loyalist?) element of NI games.

    I feel if it was more ‘pro-Northern Ireland’ rather than pro-Ulster flag & Queen then it would become more welcoming to Northern Irish people who may previously have seen the games as a sort of no-go area.

    But, as I said, I would not expect full blown nationalists to go.

    Interesting articles.

    BTW, I was sat beside Jim Boyce (FIFA) a couple of weeks ago on a plane. I didn’t realise it was him till we were disembarking. A golden opportunity for ranting lost….

  • Niall Noígíallach

    You’re kidding? Haha! That’s one person I would have bent the ear off if I was sitting next to them on a plane! Especially with all of the recent scandal at FIFA. These elections for the next FIFA President will be very interesting, I wonder what way Jim’s vote will go……..

  • Mirrorballman

    Jim’s vote will go to whomever gives him the most expensive watch…he has form on that.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Serious. He was very nice too.

    I only twigged when his missus mentioned that he flies a lot due to his work with ‘the football’.

    I was baffled at first as I didn’t hear ‘football’, instead I’d heard “flute band”.

    Only after a minute of contemplating how much the flute band scene must have changed since I’d left NI years ago (the image of Gertrude Star FB heading to Stockholm for a competition entered my mind) did I think to ask again.

    That’s when I heard ‘football’ and then it clicked who he was.

    Very nice chap though I have to say.

  • Robin Keogh

    I am not aware that anything about me is contaminated so i am not getting ur meaning?

  • aor26

    I think Sean is on to something Mick and I am not the only one zzzzzzzzz

  • mickfealty

    ‘He’ might be. But ‘he’ has been warned a dozen times to play the ball and not the man. I’m perfectly happy to tolerate a few knocks but only up to the point it becomes a wilful stratagem.

  • mickfealty

    Interesting. That deserves a more considered response than I have time for now. I’d frame the problem differently from Orwell. See my last post from last night in leiu of a proper response?