25 October 2012

Big Daddy

According to this, Liberals fear the prospect of the next election being a referendum on Tony Abbott. Well, what did you expect? When you not only have no policies but no vision for the country on which to base them, yet are so far ahead in the polls that the journosphere echoes with talk about when not if you win, all you have is the personality of your leader. And when your leader is an arsehole, that's an unfortunate position in which to have put yourself.

In this, Annabel Crabb finally wakes up to the idea that Abbott is not just one of those people you have to put up with, but a real live dickhead who should never ever become Prime Minister. She misses the point of what happened to Abbott on The Grill Team, however. He failed the Phwoarr test.

A bunch of guys like Matty Johns and Mark Geyer will test a man by going the Phwoarr test when that man is with his girlfriend/wife/daughters. Basically, this test involves a bunch of guys (it is never done man-to-man) approaching a man in said company, and making remarks that indicate their appreciation for the lady's/ladies' desirability. The man has three choices:
  • Leap to his feet in defence of the lady's/ladies' honour, and attacking the guys' oafishness, like a figure out of Dickens or Downton Abbey;
  • Go along with the guys, giggling away, destroying his credibility with the lady/ladies; or
  • Gently telling the guys about his pride in an achievement of the lady/ladies, something to do with their brains/character/other positive quality not related to their appearance or sexuality, which raises the tone and leaves both the guys and the lady/ladies with more respect for one another, and for the man in question.
People who like Abbott would reckon he behaved as per the third point above. Nothing doing; he behaved like the second, leaving his daughters on their own while he ingratiated himself with "the team" (the first makes you a laughing stock).

I can understand why Crabb might have found the encounter frightening, but the Abbott women were not the target: Abbott was. They asked the question about him saving people from a fire once, but the question of Abbott's character had been settled long before.

Crabb refers to Marr's Quarterly Essay on Abbott, which mentioned but did not examine the idea that Abbott was insulated from the consequences of his actions. He was not pursued for restitution for petty acts of vandalism, let alone penance or punishment. Minor legal actions were met with the sort of heavy-handed representation that would be more appropriate for high-stakes criminal or commercial matters. This is a man whose first step at every new stage of his career has been to do whatever it took to secure the loyalty of powerful men who, like his father, would reward his loyalty by indulging his foibles and insulating him from any consequences that might flow from them.

When the media dutifully report Abbott's sisters Christine Forster and Jane Vincent saying that Abbott is a great guy and PM material, they are speaking from the same family paradigm in which The Situation was raised: Ya Gotta Let Tony Be Tony. Not surprisingly, this is a paradigm with which Tony is more than comfortable. It was one of Howard's impositions on the Liberal Party: first Amanda Vanstone, as Education Minister, had to Let Tony Be Tony (in public service terms: LTBT), then so did the nation's Cabinet. By 2007 Liberal candidates who might have won without his help found their careers sacrificed to LTBT. In 2010 Queensland candidates capitalising on Rudd had to LTBT because the press found him captivating: disciplined and authentic at the same time, apparently.

In Crabb's article she wondered whether Abbott was somehow calculating in appealing to some vast insensitive sexist vote. Consider Abbott's challenge, from a Coalition perspective:
  • More than sufficient number of people voted Coalition over the four federal elections before 2004;
  • In the two federal elections since 2004, an insufficient number of people voted Coalition (we'll have none of your "so close" or "points for trying" malarkey, thank you). Therefore;
  • The challenge is to encourage all (or as many as possible) of those who voted Coalition in 2010 to do so again next year, as well as encourage those who didn't (but who might have before 2004) to do so, so that the Coalition ends up with a majority of votes in a majority of electorates. Not only must many thousands of Australian voters be persuaded to vote differently to the way they voted in the past two elections, they must also be more than happy to LTBT and while doing so, have the Treasury of the Commonwealth at his disposal.
Here's what follows from that, in answer to Crabb:
  1. There is a huge constituency of sexist dickheads who voted for Kevin Rudd, the apology to Aborigines, early childhood education and who will give all that away because - finally! - we have a leader who is prepared to stick it to The Man Person Woman; or
  2. No such constituency exists in any real numbers, and in the whole of the once-proud Coalition, there is nobody at all with the combination of guts and brains to confront the leader with the error of his ways.
Part of the Coalition's tragedy is that people like Grahame Morris and Mark Textor have charged them millions for longer-form and less perceptive analyses than the above. When people sneer at the big parties for taking corporate donations, consider: how much do you think it costs to keep Morris and Textor in the, er, style to which they have become accustomed?

Part of the media's tragedy, including Crabb's, is that they lack the skills and the inclination to test the above points and come up with a hypothesis to communicate to people.

For year after year, Annabel Crabb thought it was part of her job to be an LTBT enabler; that anyone coughed up by the party system into Parliament was there deservedly ("the public usually get it right") and was to be celebrated rather than examined. She appears to have taken her chances with the substance of Julia Gillard's speech against sexism and misogyny than insist on the "context" of Slipper as more sexist than Abbott. Now she's reached a point where simply making excuses for Abbott is not an option, she assumes there is a method behind the madness; Abbott's problem is that the madness is the method, and that LTBT is not some benign indulgence but a form of madness which the nation appears less likely to embrace.

Joe Hockey will vote to strip single mothers of entitlements but wants everyone to have a government-funded pram, the prices of which are already absurdly inflated. When to be indulgent, and when to be ascetic, is the arbitrary but unquestioned decision of the father. Any who question him are beset by his enablers, e.g. Credlin, one of the sisters, either Bishop, Mirabella. Those people have chosen to be LTBT enablers but are particularly bad at persuading the rest of us to be LTBT enablers too.

It's one thing for me to say that my life is richer for having been a parent than it was when I was childless. It's quite another to do what Abbott is doing, and imply that he is a better person for having been a parent than someone else is for not being one.

No parent I know looks down on those without children. You know enough people who have want to have kids but can't, and/or who have miscarried, or whose "parenthood journey" has been so rough, to know that parenthood is a matter of good luck and/or grace. It is only a source of virtue to those who romanticise it from afar. Hands-on parents regard Abbott with a gall that only he and his enablers confuse with awe.

The stupid thing is that he and Gillard made essentially the same lifestyle decision. He gave up a child he believed to be his for the sake of his career. She never had a child to give up. He largely outsourced his parenting duties but crowed about holding an empty title. Each considers themselves to be in the business of helping families, so long as we overlook Abbott's oft-professed (and indulged!) boredom as Shadow Minister for Families Families Families Baked Beans Families Families Families Families and Families in 2007-09.

Tony Abbott is appealling to a constituency that doesn't exist, and appalling to one that does. Rather than just report all those "Liberal sources" who will inevitably say "I knew Tony wouldn't make it", the time has come to find out why they are not confronting him. Howard did his own thing but when a big enough bunch of backbenchers came toward him, he sat up and took notice.

Abbott takes no notice. His silly tactic of trailing his coat to get the Prime Minister to go off at him again makes him look like the schoolboy taunting the female prac teacher. Even if he does rattle her, he won't convince anyone that he should be teaching the class; he's still just a naughty boy. There is no switch to flick to make him Prime Ministerial, it's too late.

The MSM have serious questions to consider about what falls off their schedule in pursuit of the latest pearls to drop from his lips. The idea of "balance" is not a public demand but one of the journosphere, because a "balanced" political system places them at the centre of events. Politics is out of balance, and politicians are spending all day wrapping themselves around "the media cycle" for zero impact; this simply can't go on.

I felt sorry for Michael Brissenden, who describes the storm clouds rolling toward him but ends his piece insisting that people like him need not modify their behaviour at all. Pollies are more nimble than the journosphere, and woe betide all the box-tickers in the press gallery who find one day - while out of the country or otherwise distracted perhaps - not that the bus has gone without them, but that it isn't going anywhere. Young journalists, why not sit up the front of a stopped bus and talk to Michael Brissenden? You could fetch him coffee while you listen to his cracking yarns (do some research first to find out who "Peter Costello" was).


  1. "For year after year, Annabel Crabb thought it was part of her job to be an LTBT enabler; that anyone coughed up by the party system into Parliament was there deservedly ("the public usually get it right") and was to be celebrated rather than examined."

    As ubiquitous as Crabb has become (and good luck to her) I see no real evidence that she has been an enabler of Abbott's agenda. I have seen her on The Drum countless times, and read her articles, and she mostly seems pretty straight down the middle - a rare trait for the modern political journalist/blogger. When Abbott does something unsavoury, she usually calls him out on it. If she feels that he says something sensible, she usually voices that too.

    1. To be fair, I stopped reading her about the time of the last election when what you describe was very much not the case. Her most recent article was remarkable because she had a solid basis from which to criticise Abbott.

    2. Crabbe was funny years ago, now you get the feeling that she is desperately trying to work out how to be funny without actually being critical which is of course impossible in the current Situation.

      So yes, she has been another press gallery enabler of lies and abuse and her sudden switch to disgust mode is a sign that finally maybe some of the press gallery are working out that their "context" is blocking their view of the real story.

      As Mr Denmore says, their entire credibility rests on their claim to know what is the real story and not many people believe that claim any more after watching their blatant bias since the last election.

  2. think Annabel was appalled by the decision to go on the show than events on the show

  3. Shorter blog post:

    'Women have always been there to enable Tony Abbott's ambitions, and his father's ambitions for his son. Mother, sisters, wife, daughters.'

    Ergo, as your hypothesis suggests, he is one truly infantile individual who has never had to take responsibility for his actions at all. Dad would fix it up for him if he made a mess, or the Abbott women would come along and tidy up after him and sweep whatever the mess he had created was, under the carpet, fluff the pillows, and move back to the sidelines.

    Also, as a woman, I have found it quite icky and discomfiting to see and hear the way Tony Abbott relates to his daughters. From the 60 Minutes doco in the Abbott family pool, to the publically-voiced comment about how 'hot' his daughter looked in her cycling lycra, to the way he has been almost pimping them out in the media to get 'Phwoar!' points from male electors, it has all left me with a decidedly uncomfortable feeling about the man. Certainly enough to conclude that he does not have the requisite character to be Prime Minister of this great nation.

    1. You write like an idiot and you are so stupidly biased. You are a funny little nobody joke.

    2. Ooh Anonymous, you are so brave and uncompromising in your criticism. Just like The Situation really...

  4. Zuvele Leschen26/10/12 12:28 pm

    I have wondered whether the 'handbag hit squad' line started within the Coalition party room to describe the behavior of O'Dwyer, Miranea, Bishops Et el when Abbott was under attack.

  5. Many is the time I think I've gone crazy. One such recent moment was the Coalition's shock in only now figuring out the self-inflicted damage caused by the combination of: a) having no policies; and b) relying on a leader an increasing majority of people across the planet think is a spanner.

    Your first paragraph helps me believe that I'm either not as crazy as I think or, at the very least, I'm not alone in being crazy.

    (The other times involved Nikki Sava telling the Coalition that there's no point in complaining about left wing media bias and Gillard should stop trying to make 'bob brown's bitch' signs and 'her father died of shame' comments all about her. Perhaps Sava is considering a career in comedy. For the sake of my sanity I sure hope so.)

  6. Another cracker Mr Elder. Interesting how Crabb is becoming more relevant as she approaches the Elder/First Dog on The Moon axis of political nous. I wish Grog would get with the programme more regularly.

  7. You are wicked putting 'boofheads' as a tag!.

    I still say that if the economy doesn't tank and business goes on as usual, as it currently is , there will be no reason for those 'swinging voters' to suddenly take a chance on a man they will still link with Work Choices.

    And the fact he produces no policies will worry any person in a job.
    Alternatively they could have had set of policies developed now for 2 years and been hammering away until the public was convinced.

    I doubt a majority ever like John Howard but in thier minds there was no great upheaval until he thought he could get away with Work Choices.

  8. Crabb generally spouts the gutless content/risk-free dribble that is most of the ABC's political reporting. Her latest article was notable in that she managed in part to move beyond her dreary 'oh dear they're all so quirky and disappointing don't we deserve better if only we had the politics we deserve' crap and almost made a firm judgment about something.

  9. "Balance" on the establishment's terms is very important for news, of course. This why we sigh with relief at the ABC's latest attempt to "balance" the 7.30 Report by kicking out Dawe and Clarke whilst retaining Uhlmann.
    Annabel of course contributes greatly to "balance " by hosting one of the ABC's new Lifestyle shows, where politicians feed her, which is a fraught thing to do with journalists.
    Paul Walter

  10. Mr Abbott by your analysis on this blog is the emotionally stunted adult

    Isnt that what Australias political class attracts??

    Sheltered middle class families produce the politico animal also with THAT self-entitlement

    Look out when the dreams are shattered!

  11. They both love to brutalise refugees and strip hundreds of thousands of kids of single parents of income support.

    They are two peas on a pod really.

  12. Listen to Waleed Aly on RN Drive

    Smart man and not a bad show

  13. Does anyone remember Question Time back around 1995/96 while we still had the Keating govt. Tony Abbott was so enraged about something he got up and ran over to the govt. front bench and threatened to punch out an MP. I can't remember whether that MP (a Minister) was male or female. It stuck in my memory, the vision of the whole thing but the exact details of what was being discussed and the exact time won't come to mind.


  14. I agree with Hillbilly skeleton, abbott's attitude toward his daughters is creepy to say the least.But hey, if yer own personal lack of charm is impeding yer progress why not use the sprogs to boost yer appeal with the men??

    Just another reminder of the absolute disaster that would befall the country with the abbott as PM, not even his kids are exempt from his ambition.

    Have daughters, do anything for votes.

  15. He's an emotionally stunted creepy adult Anon....

    What do your expect?

    The intelligentsia have left the liberals long long ago...

  16. Abbott smuggly thought he could bang away at Gillard using the carbon tax as his one and only weapon to bring her down.
    It didn't matter that he used blatant lies, or stood proudly with the repugnant Alan Jones by the ditch the witch and Bob Browns bitch signs, he thought he was invincible.Just as News Ltd, slavishly mopping up his messes and feeding the lies.
    Something changed.
    The voters became bored with Dr Doom and got jack of being treated like mugs.
    The truth of the carbon tax, Abbotts lame, insincere response to remarks by both Bernardis gay marriage / beastiality and Jones died of shame ' created the beginnings of the perfect storm. Then Abbott gave Gillard the hammer to drive another nail into his political coffin.
    His credibility took another hiding when he hid behind his ladies skirts. It's laughable to suggest his family of girls proves he's not sexist or misogynist. Arsonists and graffiti vandals have homes they don't burn down or spray with paint!