It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.
- H L Mencken
Now that the Coalition are riding so high in the polls, they and their media shills are calling for Rudd to replace Gillard, or claiming some special insight into the Labor mind that means Rudd will replace Gillard any day now ... any day now ... any day ...
I could go on about journalists, how stupid they are to run a story that so obviously has no substance and how easily they can be stampeded. Many of them are the self-same people who believed that Peter Costello would challenge John Howard any day now ... any day ... and who chewed up hours and hectares of media space with non-stories to that effect. How's this for a vacuous piece, by the same journalist who insisted throughout 2007 that bad polls were good news for John Howard: any day now, any day ... Shame on you if you fool me once, etc.
I'm more concerned about the Liberal Party, and why they are jonesing (pardon the pun) for a change of leadership. Why not adopt an attitude of quiet confidence that they can beat whomever Labor puts up? This is what winners do:
- When it became clear in 2009 that NSW Labor Premier Nathan Rees started to reek of stale piss and Joe Tripodi's cigars, Barry O'Farrell was pretty sanguine about whether Rees should stay or be replaced; the NSW Coalition was rightly confident they could beat any figurehead atop NSW Labor;
- In 2007, Kevin Rudd teased Costello about not having the ticker to run and expressed confidence (well-founded as it turned out) at being able to beat Howard, Costello or whomever else the Liberals put up;
- In 1995, John Howard was not calling on Labor to roll Keating or predicting that Kim Beazley would challenge him any day now ... any day ...
First, their central (and seemingly only) criticism of the government is that it is a do-nothing government. On the table between now and Christmas is what Tim Fischer would call "bucketloads of extinguishment" of that notion: carbon price, the disability scheme, broadband, and other issues besides. If Labor change leaders and Rudd reinstates his old way of doing things, the prospect of actual achievements disappear. Instead of a mass bloodletting within Rudd Labor II there would be the slow spread of fear and loathing, like that of East Germany in the 1950s when the populace realised they were trapped and could only sullenly welcome their totalitarian overlords.
Second, there is this notion that Abbott can't handle being beaten by a woman. However overblown it may or may not be in Mitchell's book, there is a kernel of truth to it. Gillard vaulted to being a leadership contender by being Shadow Minister for Health to Abbott as Minister, taking him apart forensically until her good work was undone by having to sell Latham's Medicare Gold.
If Abbott were confident in himself and his masculinity in taking on a woman - as O'Farrell was in taking on Keneally, as Kennett was with Kirner - he'd not bother yearning to have Rudd back. Those men would have been more gracious about their opposite number's birthdays, knowing there was no mileage in being otherwise. He, and proxies like Shanahan and Savva or even dills like Katharine Murphy, protest too much about Gillard. Why?
INCREASINGLY, Julia Gillard's days feel numbered. That's an objective call.It's subjective because it isn't manifested in any testable reality. Murphy's colleagues have undergone mass hypnosis to this effect and are trying to project a reality so hat they can justify the time they've spent on chasing a story that simply isn't there.
... Gillard has floated past the point of no return, and has washed up in the worst possible leadership zone - the "destabilisation" phase, where every half-baked piece of garbage takes on a resonance it doesn't actually deserve.And half-baked garbage is a specialty of Murphy and at least 90% of her colleagues, which is why I repeat my call for them to be boiled in their own piss. The Finkelstein Royal Commission should be thus empowered.
Fundamentally, Abbott believes he has Rudd's measure, and the quicker the Labor Party can tear down Gillard and replace her with Rudd, the quicker Abbott can see him off for a second time. Such is Abbott's self-belief (which, in fairness to him, does reflect an objective fact - he did help see Rudd off once before).It is an objective fact that Rudd was rolled as PM. It is an objective fact that Abbott was Opposition Leader at the time. It is not an objective fact that Abbott inflicted the wound on Labor, or that he has some mesmeric power to force them to switch leaders to suit him.
Julia Gillard is getting on with it, in her own stumbly way, and nothing Abbott does is working. The Coalition pulled out the big guns on Craig Thomson, and all that happened was that they looked mean for threatening to prevent him attending the birth of his child - and their shadow Attorney-General was cruelly exposed, a man at the topmost pinnacle of posh if ever there was one. They are running out of expedient options, which will mean that they will have to re-examine the way they do things - and that won't be pretty, as we saw in the 1980s and '90s.
The Liberals want to beat Rudd because he beat them in 2007, and had he beaten them again they may have learned some lessons about why they lost and adjusted their position accordingly. Instead, the Howard restoration fantasy is left undisturbed within the Libs, and they remain stuck in their abysm of pish. The need to carefully rethink their position can be fended off with the creation of an atmosphere of crisis, buttressed by the fantasy that they are this close to winning back power, that the supposedly flaky independents will succumb to the inevitability of the Howard restoration any day now ... any day now ...
This rhetorical flourish was described by one Labor person ...Media coverage doesn't get much weaker than that": "one Labor person" indeed. Murphy should have had this flung back in her face and threatened with the sack if she ever turned in crap like this again. Imagine being a journalism graduate who can't get work, reading that and wondering why Murphy and Shanahan can't be cleaned out (or made to report on actual substantial stories). Imagine having a Parliament chock-full of the issues of the day and being able to see nothing more than the monkey-house of Question Time. The real problem with journalism is the editors who not only allow this stuff to get through, but who commission it.
Old-school media management says that once you've convinced journalists to run the story you want them to run, you've got it made because everyone just consumes media unthinkingly. The sheer apathy with which people greet the
I promised that I wouldn't go after the journalistic equivalents of stale bean soup that you get from people like Murphy and Shanahan, but I can't help it. We need better media than they can provide. Bloggers are trying to fill the gap but there's only so much you can do; it's first aid for a deeper problem that the professionals can't and won't address. Tony Abbott presents the sort of brash, utterly baseless confidence that you get from media executives like John Hartigan or David Leckie, and journos are drawn to that like flies to shit. They can't see that Abbott is a fraud because they can't afford to, which weakens their ability to tell us what is going on in Federal politics.
Abbott's stunt-based politics as a means for deflecting attention from real and big issues works for journalists, not for the public at large. Policy-nerd Rudd had sky-high ratings and lost them when he dropped important policies for the sake of expediency. Policy-nerd Gillard was also well regarded and lost them when she too became just another expedient pol. Abbott fans like Paul Kelly can only maintain their position by confusing the Coalition's high poll ratings (which are anti-Labor rather than pro-Coalition) and glossing over the rusted-on dislike of Abbott, who is a prophylactic on the chances of a Coalition government.
Abbott has thrown everything his reptilian, short-term brain can think of at the Gillard government, nothing has worked. The government is still standing and the independents have gone from being disinclined to actively hating the guy. The idea that he's all bark and no bite is cemented in place pretty much everywhere outside State Circle, ACT; his response is to bark louder, which is annoying but impresses the hell out of nongs in the press gallery, they will keep on doing his laundry for him. Even so, Abbott is getting increasingly frantic; if he can't knock over Gillard soon he's going to be left exposed.
The press gallery will then be faced with a choice: report that he's exposed, or continue covering up for his utter absence of policy substance and wilful refusal to address the big issues facing our country. They could turn their backs on his pathetically limited display and report some of the bigger and more immediate issues, but that would require courage and reflective ability on the part of the journosphere which they - like the Coalition - lack. The wider public doesn't lack these qualities, which is why we are so badly served by both the Coalition and the press gallery.