The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has become a celebrity on YouTube over a two year-old broadcast debate that resurfaced in which he eviscerates ardent US Republican radio broadcaster Michael Graham over issues like healthcare and foreign policy. The recording has shot past 1.2m views on YouTube.
The debate on Newstalk’s The Right Hook is two years old – long before Higgins was elected president in October last year – but as the US approaches a major presidential election President Higgins’ defending of US President Barack Obama as well as US blue-collar workers is something to behold. And something of a hit – at the time of writing it attracted 434,348 views. (UPDATE – as of Friday afternoon 24 August it has reached 1.2m views)
The re-emergence of the video is a mystery but one very likely source could be media site Upworthy.com – the page on which the video is hosted has attracted 86,000 likes and has been shared onto Facebook by 3,600 people.
His voice rising, every word precise, President Higgins recalls his time living among ordinary Americans when he was a young professor working in the American Midwest in the 1960s.
He hits out at the unfairness of healthcare policy in the US and how the majority of workers who hold down two or three jobs are still not entitled to healthcare benefits, while a tiny elite enjoy the privileges.
He laments the scare tactics of the right and celebrates how young Americans are travelling the world again.
His closing remark is a sucker punch: “Be proud to be a decent American rather than just a w****r whipping up fear.”
Powerful stuff reminiscent of a time when Irish politicians had fire in their bellies – and no doubt an object of fascination for young Irish people learning more about the qualities of their new president.