It’s that time of year when everyone is Irish — especially the Irish American.
And Joe Biden, for one, is proud to say so.
“To be an Irishman is to be nostalgic about the future,” the vice president said at the American Ireland Fund Gala last night where he received the Peace Award. “I am.”
Biden will join President Barack Obama in the Oval Office today as they welcome Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny for a traditional bowl of shamrocks before they all head up to Capitol Hill for the annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon.
Kenny was on hand at last night’s fundraiser for Irish-American charities and cultural exchanges at the Reagan Building. He thanked the audience for their support of Ireland during its hard times. “Our reputation is restored, “he said, noting that three years ago Irish interest rates ran at 15 percent. “Yesterday they were 2.9 percent.”
Biden suggested the president might have a special mission for him: “Let me go home,” to the land of his mother’s family.
Recalling his humble Irish-American roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden explained: “We thought the only way up was through the Democratic Party… To be Irish was to be Catholic was to be a Democrat.”
In his introduction of Biden, former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut quoted Frank Underwood, the fictional veep on the Netflix series “House of Cards.”
“There are two types of vice presidents: doormats and matadors,” Dodd said. “Joe is a matador.”
“From an Irish Catholic kid from Pittsburgh to an Irish Catholic kid in Scranton, thank you,” said Robert McCann, chief executive officer of UBS Group Americas, who received the International Business Leadership Award.
McCann explained that he was mentored by the Irish American community on Wall Street in his twenties, especially on philanthropy and giving. “Those of us in financial services operate under a special obligation,” he said. “We’ve had our fair share of missteps, but fundamentally we are a national treasure.”
“I’m glad one of us made good,” Biden retorted. “It sure as hell wasn’t me.”