I hadn't noticed, until yesterday, that it's traditional for the Prime Minister of Ireland to visit the US on St Patrick's Day. Someone recently pointed out that when a democracy is functioning properly, one of the luxuries it affords is that you don't have to pay very much attention to it. People are paying much closer attention since Nov 8, and much closer still since Jan 20, and we will until Trump is out of office. So anyway, yesterday, St Patrick's Day, Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland visited the US, and I noticed for the first time that this St Patrick's Day visit is traditional. I'm still trying to find out how many years back this tradition goes. Yesterday, with El Cheeto Grande standing nearby, Enda Kenny said:
"It's fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He too, of course, was an immigrant. And though he is of course the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he's also the symbol of, indeed the patron of, immigrants.
"Here in America, in your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years.
"Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed, and four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore.
"We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came, and we became Americans.
"We lived the words of John F. Kennedy, long before he uttered them. We asked not what America could do for us, but what we could do for America, and we still do."
I don't know how people back in Ireland felt when they heard or read these words. I do know that many Americans feel very grateful to Kenny for saying what he did when and where he said it. And today I had a little epiphany: it just occurred to me that these days, Kenny, and many other leaders around the world, are speaking for us, for Americans, because our President currently is not.