We, The Undersigned

Dr. Bill Tormey » Open letter to George Lee

Well Mr Lee, like you I was drawn to politics to try to change society and make things fairer. John Kennedy, Supermac, Harold Wilson, Sean Lemass, John F Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Lindon Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, Donogh O’Malley, Pierre Trudeau, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, Francois Mitterand, Pope John 23rd , Indira Ghandi, Jomo Kenyatta, Michael Okpara, Justin Keating, Brendan Corish, Declan Costello, Garrett Fitzgerald, Ruairi Quinn, Dick Spring, Peter Barry, Fergus Finlay, Pat Magner, Nelson Mandela, Michael Gorbachev, Anthony Wedgewood Benn, Ted Kennedy were all significant influences on me. James Reston, Dick Walsh, Olivia O’Leary and many other journalists also played key roles in my formation. However, I have never been a mere fan, more a critical admirer of each.

That’s some list. How he found the time to admire them all is in itself a source of inspiration. Maybe some day someone will go one better and name all of the above and Bill Tormey.

But Supermac? What does burgers has to do with politics?

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9 Responses to “We, The Undersigned”


  1. 1 Donagh February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    That’s a pretty hilarious post from Dr. Bill.

    It’s odd that someone who is a Doctor of ‘General Internal Medicine’ should list a fast-food restaurant as a political inspiration. However, this inconsistency might explain why Fine Gael has not sought his opinion when putting together its health policy over the years.

    • 2 Marian Quinn February 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Good be reminded of the era of Supermac, if only for the immortal quip of Mandy Rice-Davies “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?”.

      • 3 Hugh Green February 10, 2010 at 10:53 am

        Oh, that Supermac. How someone can be a critical admirer of both Harold Macmillan and, say, Jesse Jackson, is very much beyond me.

        I had no idea until this morning that Macmillan Publishing was his game before he turned his hand to politics.

  2. 4 Marian Quinn February 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I think he had a core of decency. And he left a contribution to political theory:
    “When asked what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman, Macmillan replied: ‘Events, my dear boy, events’.”

    Interesting that today would have been his birthday

    • 5 Hugh Green February 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      That reminds me of an idea for a post I had a while back but never got anywhere with. Basically a Two Ronnies-style list of misheard political quotes.

      Like:

      “A fence, my dear boy, a fence”

      or

      “He did gestate some Smurfits’

      But as I say, it got nowhere.

  3. 7 coc February 10, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    He admires Lindon Johnson so much he can’t even spell his name? That Byll Tormei is some man for one man.

  4. 9 Hugh Green February 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    It refers to what Charlie Haughey, channelling Othello, claimed to have done for the country, and what Irish Times letter writers ever since, have sought to fit into their assessments of deceased or retired politicians: that ‘he did the state some service’. Like I said, it didn’t get very far.


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