The Coalition ostensibly moved against Slipper in the name of being seen to stand up
In the video, Abbott does not face the PM during that fateful phrase "died of shame" but reads it from prepared notes: this wasn't one of his heat-of-the-moment gaffes, it was planned. It's not the execution but the strategy. The leader must wear the responsibility but Pyne, Deputy Leader Credlin and Deputy Deputy Leader Julie Bishop must own this too.
As many have pointed out, Gillard tore Abbott a new one. If this isn't "the real Julia" it will do; people who despise her will write that off as an aberration while there are plenty who see in that an authenticity, and yes a decency, that is more appealling than polls appear capable of conveying. Any journalist who failed to report that has failed their readers/ listeners/ viewers rather than cemented any reputation for "balance". Even trenchantly anti-Gillard journos should be able to write a "mouse bites cat" story.
The government replaced Slipper with an experienced parliamentarian, which puts Abbott is a position where he is taking orders from a woman (and where Opposition defiance of the Speaker makes him look even worse). Anna Burke needs to take the harder line against Opposition disruption, like Slipper did - it worked, which is the main reason why they hate him.
Abbott's perception of misogyny is not diminished. The central strategic objective of the Coalition over the past two weeks has been reversed. The kudos he got for his kind words to the PM on her father's death has evaporated. His wife needn't have bothered. He has no-one to blame but himself.
It is understandable that Sophie Mirabella was hurt by the now-public texts of Slipper and Ashby, and even that she played it up for maximum political impact - until you remember the picture of her under those banners before that mob. Thanks to Independent Australia, the Federal Court and Peter Slipper, I will happily and non-misogynistically refer to her as a "botch". If she's going to act all hurt, she needs the self-awareness to rise above her record: her leader, and her mentor Bronwyn Bishop, both lack this capacity. She is meant to be someone with a future, but again like them her past seems more significant and substantial.
As an independent MP, Slipper hasn't been a rusted-on Coalition man for some time but now he's not even-handedly disposed to the Coalition. He may vote with the Coalition against the government on particular issues, but all independents do that.
Peter Slipper's appointment as Speaker is not some incurable cancer on the Gillard government, but a boil that has now been lanced. Any Coalition MPs who are still going on about Slipper six months from now will get all the respect that is due to those who propose nothing but criticise regardless.
Drag0nista insists that our federal politics can only be understood properly and reported properly if they are reported on insider terms:
... the Prime Minister became wedged by Abbott’s motion.
The sheer force of that speech and its resonance in the community busted that wedge. If she had made it in the context of a debate on monetary policy, or the price of eggs, or the shooting of Malala Yusafzai, it would still have been more important than whatever pissant motion Abbott was putting up.
Abbott has no credibility on measures against misogyny and was picking on the isolated Slipper because he can't be sure of trouncing Gillard. He could have won if she had simpered before him like she did before Alan Jones last year. He could have won if she had read out a lawyerly prepared statement in her drawling, passionless monotone. She did none of those things.
Sometimes when you take on an opponent in a battle or a game they can beat you by playing a slightly different way, playing it better, and exposing a weakness that you are trying to hide. Sometimes they can even be lucky, and you can be unlucky. That is what happened to Abbott here. Nowhere does she defend Slipper's texts nor even his position - if you would take Abbott literally at his word you must take Gillard literally at hers too.
Sometimes we need to take a step back to see the whole picture.Or, you could do what Drag0nista did and put your nose so close to the text of yet another forgotten, irrelevant, failed Abbott motion that the "big picture" - which was picked up by the rest of the world - eludes you as it eluded Drag0nista. Abbott lost the wider battle/game.
It didn't matter whether or not he won some minor skirmish. When you understand that, you understand why this is funny: the pet shop owner has won the same tactical victory that Abbott won yesterday by pointing out the "beautiful plumage" of the dead parrot (yes, it is indeed beautiful, but it isn't the point).
It does Drag0nista no credit that she started her article with this weak equivocation:
I like Julia Gillard. She is a gutsy, intelligent and compassionate woman who I consider to be a formidable role model for all Australian girls and women.Not enough for Get Shortened, it would seem:
There have been a litany of moments in Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership when she has effectively chosen to ignore Abbott’s overt displays of, and complicity with, sexism towards herself and Australian women in general. By expressing her unquestionably genuine offense now, only when her reputation and minority government is at stake, gives off hints of opportunism and sends the wrong message.Her reputation and minority government is always at stake. She is not obliged to jump whenever Abbott pushes the sexism button; imagine if she had a reputation for doing just that. Instead of shrinking into himself like a frightened animal, Abbott would have rolled his eyes and said "there she goes again!" to a chorus of laughter from his backbench and the press gallery. She showed the tactical successes
Let's hope she shows her passionate side more often, and uses the Prime Ministership as more of a "bully pulpit" to get issues aired rather than just another transactional office as she has tended to treat it. The decision on cutting single parent benefits is at odds with the spirit of the payrise for community service workers; but sometimes a small step on the right track can just look like a big step foregone.
Steve Lewis has been left without a story, a dangerous place to be for a relatively highly-paid but otherwise undistinguished journalist at this point. He will almost certainly get a Best Supporting Walkley for his gig with James Ashby. Few journalists will now follow the Slipper story through to its end. Because the story has lost currency, Lewis is unlikely to keep pursuing Slipper - it was all rather sordid really, and even though his book has copped all the flogging it can possibly bear he will find excuses not to take calls from Ashby. Hopefully Centrelink will accept his Walkley as a form of ID.
James Ashby's enemies are many and his friends are few. He has increasing debts to persistent lawyers and diminishing means to pay them (would you hire him to do your publicity, or in any capacity at all? There are many, many ex-press secs and unemployed journos already out there chasing too little work). Ashby has flagged that he has been suicidal, which at the very least is a request for the media he once courted to back off.
Peter Hartcher revealed more about himself than the political situation before us when he expressed his yearning for Gillard to be Pearl Pureheart. If she had been, it might have been easier for Hartcher and other Rudd-backers to have undermined her. When Hartcher says "we" expected more of Gillard perhaps this is who he means, rather than abrogating a royal pronoun or that old-school MSM arrogance that he speaks for his readers and has some insight into what we think. So she did a deal and it didn't come off, even though she held up her end of the bargain. I ask again: what's the point of being an "experienced political journalist"?
The idea that the government invested a lot of political capital in Peter Slipper, and that it has blown the lot, sounds fair - but what is "political capital"? Isn't it just risk? This government has taken a lot of risks, and some have paid off while others have not - but is this not true of all governments?
Six months from now, what would stop Gillard from simply agreeing with critics who contend that Slipper was a gamble that didn't pay off? Where does that leave those who need to believe that Slipper is some sort of disfiguring wound to the Gillard government?
Nobody comes out of this smelling of roses. Those supporting Gillard are bouyed by her performance while her various opponents seem bogged down. Those with experience in covering politics have no excuse for not reporting what's in front of them, and should be strong enough to rise above The Narrative when it has so demonstrably failed.