Having Irish Prime Ministers over here in the U.S. for St. Patrick's Day is a tradition now; I guess there's not so much demand for them to be in Ireland for the holiday. They usually get to be marshal of an American St. Paddy's Day parade, then to pay a courtesy call on the Vice President.
Generally, this is done the morning before the Taoiseach meets the US President in the Oval Office.The media were allowed in to document last year's meeting between Mike Pence and then-P.M. Enda Kenny, but were shut out of this year's tête-à-tête with current Teoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Breaking from tradition this year, Varadkar will attend the vice president’s residence on Friday morning, the day after meeting Donald Trump in the White House.
As reported by the Indianapolis Star, having the meeting closed to the press was at the Vice President's request.
Pence, who is of Irish descent, and his wife, Karen, spoke to the media at last year's festivities, where Pence expressed his excitement over being able to invite a "special guest to the White House" — in reference to Kenny.As I noted the other day, Varadkar is Ireland's first openly gay Teoiseach, as well as its first of Indian descent, and, at 38 when elected, the youngest to hold the title. (There have been younger Prime Ministers, but a "Teoiseach" is chief executive and head of government in addition to being P.M. Besides the Teoiseach, there's also a President of Ireland, who is the head of state, which is about as confusing to us eachtrannaigh as the pronunciation of "teoiseach" is.)
But it's different this year — and Varadkar's comments in recent days to the media may be a reason why.
When asked whether he would talk to Pence about the vice president's stance on gay-conversion therapy, Varadkar told an Irish publication, TheJournal.ie, on Wednesday that if given the chance he would talk about "the wider issue" of gay rights.
While serving in Kenny's cabinet as Minister for Health, however, Varadkar told RTÉ Radio, "I'm not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It's just part of who I am; it doesn't define me; it is part of my character, I suppose."
The media were present for Varadkar's Thursday meeting with Mercurial U.S. President Donald Trump, and at a luncheon with congressional leaders. At those events, trade, taxes, immigration and Guinness defined the main topics of conversation. He must have exhausted other parts of his character during the conclave with Mr. Pence.
I had about three quarters of this cartoon inked, including the arm wearing Pence's watch, when John Oliver started talking about his and the Vice President's new books about the Second Bunny on Last Week Tonight. Happily, the pose already drawn accommodated the addition of a rabbit; and there was still time to change the dialogue balloon that was to have said "Leprechauns' Golden Buried Treasure."