Dropping the basket, probably
The Liberals put all their eggs in one basket when they elected John Howard as leader in 1995. Last night, Howard dropped the basket.
A government seeking re-election has to create the impression that there is a lot of work to be done, and that only by voting for the incumbents will that work be done properly. What Howard told the man Liberals call Red Kerry is that there's much to do but he can't be arsed doing it. It is way too late for this nonsense. He asked his Cabinet if he was the problem - they said no, now he's decided he is the problem but he still won't go.
Not that switching to Costello will work. The press gallery, tired of having Costello call them liars after a night on the grog, will treat him as the entree to Rudd's main course. If you thought Costello was smug now, wait until he gets the PM's job and becomes the Liberals' answer to Frank Forde. The pics of Costello's family will be buried under an avalanche of bad publicity about Mrs Costello's job, which will bite now that people are actually listening to what Labor is saying as they weren't before. There is nothing that Costello offers that Rudd doesn't, except the Labor leader looks more stable.
The Liberal Party fetishised Howard, he led them away from what they believed in (subsidiarity of power through federalism, small government with minimal compliance costs) and now he's botched it on them. They had an heir lined up and he's botched it too.
Speaking of exhausted volcanoes we have this, hopefully a final wheeze. He's run out of nasty gossip and has no principles to operate from, so all he has is pabulum:
In the Liberal Party, however, the latest news is that people are not even bothering to seek preselection.
This was also the case in 1992, when John Hewson was polling 10-20% ahead of Keating. At the time this should have been evidence that something wasn't quite right. There was a bit of a groundswell in the leadup to 1996 but the preponderance of sitting members, and the convention (honoured in the breach in Wentworth) of letting even the sleepiest of sleeping-dog MPs lie, means that there hasn't been a lot of competition in federal Liberal preselections recently. Again, JHP is trying a beat-up that works a treat among the ignorant.
A rebirth in Australian political volunteerism is rather a big ask; it is inconceivable that large numbers of citizens will abandon their internet and DVD toys in favour of the stereotypical branch meetings in draughty trade halls.
Laziness, both intellectual and civil. When I was a (Young) Liberal branch President I never convened meetings in trade halls, draughty or otherwise. JHP may have, but then he's guilty of what he laments. He is too lazy to examine ways of undoing his own dirty deeds, and resents anyone pointing this out.
things are probably now at the point where we should think about the US method of choosing candidates through democratic primary ballots.
Or, probably not. This probably hasn't been clearly thought through and will probably lead to a less representative democracy - like they have in the United States - rather than more so. See what happens when quality analysis is applied in reverse and the sheer flaccidity of JHP's (probable) suggestion becomes apparent.
For the Liberals, in particular, the need for change is now acute.
You know an article is badly written when something so obvious that it need not be said becomes the only sensible thing worth reading.
It is ironic that Howard and Costello are demonstrating how fragile a monoculture can be, and how short, how quick it is to go from the apex of might to, as Peter Hartcher's subbie put it, into the void at terminal velocity. If you probably can't be bothered re-examining what you're doing and how you do it, you probably won't go anywhere but into the void. Like that would be a bad thing. Probably.