By Anthony Sheridan
Pat Rabbitte, despite a long and winding political career ranging from apprentice Trotskyite to passionate Capitalist, has always remained true to his unique form of debate.
Cuttingly witty, contemptuously sarcastic and capable of reducing an opponent to tears with rapier like ridicule, Rabbitte never held back when defending his changing political colours.
And like all good debaters Rabbitte could take it when it was handed out. When the heat was turned up he simply took off his jacket and got sweating with everybody else in the debating kitchen.
But alas, time and events have caught up with the Rabbitte. Fired from his much loved ministerial job and effectively forced to resign from politics and power the Rabbitte has turned bitter and as a consequence has developed a sensitivity to any challenge particularly a challenge that contains a great big dollop of truth.
During a recent debate on RTE, Irish Independent columnist Colette Browne chased the Rabbitte back down his burrow after he tried to chastise her for daring to challenge his exalted opinion.
Under discussion was the Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail mantra of fairness for all during the election
Rabbitte: I’m listening to mantras and slogans for the last eight years but mantras and slogans don’t do government.
Browne: (intervenes, laughing) Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way anyone, what about that for a slogan?
Rabbitte: (Very angry). Fine Colette, it’s a very good slogan and it’s just like the sneering that you did at the fiscal space as well.
Browne: I did a lot of sneering at the fiscal space because Michael Noonan’s figures were all wrong.
Rabbitte: Colette, in so far as I can see you sneer everyday you write a column in the Irish Independent. I mean you are addicted to negativity.
Browne: I have to laugh when I hear members of the last government, the current caretaker government Fine Gael and Labour coming out and saying, as if Sinn Fein has invented populist opposition politics.
Now I’m old enough to remember when Labour was in opposition back in 2010 and yourself and Fine Gael were pretty populist in opposition to everything Fianna Fail was trying to do when the Troika was coming in.
The Rabbitte, caught in the glare of truth, scuttled back down into the safety of his political waffle burrow.