Sad descent of Gnome into black comedy

16 Sep

See also Liberal Party’s search for a scapegoat finds its mark… on Journalspace. Howard’s mask fell off last week in that press conference as he uttered the words And I hope people understand from observing me in 30-odd years of public life, that I have never run from a fight before, and I don’t intend to do so now. His tone and body language told the truth. The “battle of the pronouns” since — I —> we and Howard government —> The Team is a pathetic and I hope failing — because it deserves to fail — attempt to spin their way out. I have rarely seen such a bald-faced confection.

But you have to love The Australian’s Matt Price, and I mean that sincerely.

That’s right, we didn’t see it coming

THIS is one of the easiest columns I will write. Mainly because a lot of it is the recycled ramblings of a dolt.

Like this, when Kevin Rudd was preparing to challenge Kim Beazley:

“Rudd, a decent, intelligent and ferociously ambitious man, has made a grave mistake in leaping into the fray. Practically anything is possible in politics, but it’s difficult to imagine Labor repairing its wounds to defeat the Coalition in the 2007 election. Rudd would bring many fine qualities to the leadership—not least a slavish work ethic—but his lack of experience shapes as a very high hurdle. (It is in) Rudd’s best interests to publicly backBeazley and wait in the wings. Whichever way the numbers fall, the winner is John Howard.”

Or this, during last year’s ALP preselection debacle in Victoria:

“Whereas the Liberals routinely attract a healthy mix of hardened political professionals and relatively artless amateurs into federal parliament, Labor is left to drown in its nasty, narrow, cloistered, limiting, repulsive, infested, depressing and ultimately suffocating union gene pool.”

Or this, back in February, when Kevinism started to bite:

“The election won’t be held before October and you’d think we’ll reflect on these heady days as the high point of Kevinmania. Unless Rudd’s really as clever and blessed as he thinks he is—impossible, surely—approval ratings heading north into the high 60s and an ALP primary vote of 47 per cent seem unsustainable.”

By now, readers with long memories will have recognised the progenitor of all this piffle: as Alexander Downer might gently put it, “Je suis l’oie (the goose)”. I thought Rudd would wreck his ambition of becoming prime minister by prematurely felling Beazley. For much of last year, Labor was infested by internal bickering and seemed unelectable.

Now it’s the Liberals putting the fun into dysfunctional, leaving Howard to fervently pray that next Tuesday’s Newspoll pegs Labor’s primary vote at a humble 47 per cent, which would represent a 4 percentage point fall from the previous survey…

Members of Howard’s once-reliable cheer squad have done the PM most damage by persistently ridiculing climate change. Until late last year, Howard was prone to dismiss global warming as some sort of pitched battle in the culture wars rather than a legitimate challenge to government.

It left the PM hopelessly wrong-footed to the sudden shift in political sentiment: most people, blithely unaware of cultural warfare, are concerned about climate change and expect their politicians to tackle the issue practically and seriously. Howard has been scrambling for cover ever since.

Albrechtsen and Bolt can write what they like about these issues, all of which are complex. But having trumpeted profoundly unpopular policies for a couple of years, both seem thrown that voters have turned on the man Albrechtsen regards as Australia’s greatest prime minister…

Call me soft-headed, but I rather admire Piers Akerman’s unyielding support for the PM. “Crisis, what crisis? The Howard beat-up” was Piers’s magnificently stoic response to Downer’s suggestion that the PM should abandon ship…

I couldn’t have put that better myself, so I haven’t. 😉

sept2007_thumbnail.jpgThe latest Monthly is out too, and the best news is how their web site has added even more free content! However, you still have to subscribe or get the print edition — which I did — to read one of Robert Manne’s better pieces in full:


“In late May, the prime minister admitted at a parliamentary party meeting that he had no rabbit left to pull out of the hat. The comment instantly leaked. Its chief interest was not as evidence of growing desperation. That was obvious by now. It was interesting rather because it revealed what Howard’s characteristically disciplined rhetoric normally conceals: how his political mind actually works.”

In the Monthly Comment, Robert Manne examines John Howard’s attempts – sustained, complex and, infuriatingly for him, thus far unsuccessful – to wedge Kevin Rudd and thereby incite a turnaround in the polls. On the issues of the “national emergency” in the Northern Territory’s remote Aboriginal communities and the revoking of Dr Mohamed Haneef’s visa for supposed ties to terrorism, the prime minister was unable to draw criticism from the Opposition. But, argues Manne, this was not due to indifference on the part of Labor; rather, it was because the savvy Rudd possesses an understanding of the wedge-based politics favoured by Howard, and is pursuing a strategy that aims above it.

“The analysis of the Rudd phenomenon as a kind of betrayal rests on a characteristic form of left-wing blindness: the failure to have noticed one of the most prominent features of most contemporary Western democracies. This is the clash between the values of ‘ordinary people’ and the values of the prosperous, professional ‘elites’ to which most of the left-wing critics of Rudd presently belong. It is true that Rudd failed to do what the Left advised over the Northern Territory intervention and the case of Dr Haneef … He failed to follow it in part because he instinctively grasped the unparalleled capacity of the prime minister to identify and exploit the kind of issues over which the Opposition could be wedged and, even more importantly, because he is an intelligent man who has worked out that a politics too far removed from the moral instincts of ordinary people will not succeed in the long run.”

Manne rebuts the left’s analysis of Rudd rather well. His hope, which I share, is that a Rudd government will be somewhat more compassionate and responsive than the present ideological hard/dunderheads in Canberra.


Matt Price is not alone. In October last year I said:

I note he begins the article with a quote from God’s Politics by Jim Wallis of Sojourners. Again Rudd could do a lot worse. I’m afraid he’ll never lead the Labor Party though. He’s too good.

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3 responses to “Sad descent of Gnome into black comedy

  1. Denys

    September 16, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    What hat! I’ve always thought that Johhny’s been pulling those little bunnies out of his arse. (sorry)

  2. Davo

    September 16, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    I rather like the writings of Matt Price.

    Also liked the “online blog” of Jack Marx (ooer, what a name) .. but apparently he became “downsized” for writing an “irony too far”. Pity about that.

  3. ninglun

    September 16, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    I enjoyed Jack Marx too, as you will see there.

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