03 May 2006

Beazley's a cat

It is in the nature of a weak man to pick on someone weaker than he and present this as evidence that he was not a weakling, whereupon someone viewed as harmless becomes contemptible. Kim Beazley is a cat. he reaction by the government is your standard empty cant, but Beazley and his last redoubt have been snivelling in defending the indefensible.

This is what has happened to Kim Beazley in his attempts to link the Beaconsfield mine disaster to his industrial relations campaign, the one shred of policy he has to show for himself after a decade in Opposition. This really is contemptible opportunism. Maybe the miners and their families are rusted on Labor people and would agree with Beazley - but the fact that he hasn't staged a photo op with them would suggest otherwise.

This is where Malcolm Farr's article gets it wrong. True, Beazley's comments were brief, but anyone involved in media and politics as long as Beazley or Farr would know that the media only ever siezes upon grabs of a speech - and sometimes not the grabs that the speechmaker would prefer. Let's try the same thing on Farr's article:

Beazley unveils his true colours

Rubbish! His true colours are dithering, steady-as-she-goes inertia and cover-up/panic when presented with insoluble proof that the ground has shifted under his feet (note: this last metaphor is not a Beaconsfield reference).

Beazley brought in his closest advisers and told them he wanted a tougher approach in his second crack as Opposition Leader.

This worked so well for Andrew Peacock in 1989, and as I've said before Beazley is Labor's Peacock. Peacock could do the scowl and mock-outrage too. You're old enough to remember Peacock too Malcolm, shame on you for not telling the readers you saw this movie the first time around. And let's not have any nonsense from a politician who doesn't want to be popular: oh, yes he does.

John Howard would never take a Beazley-led Labor for granted, and now has to size up a familiar opponent more prepared to take risks.

Howard might not be as complacent as Costello can seem to be, but he has roped this dope before and will do so again. The latter part of this sentence could read: if you thought Beazley was weak when he stood where he was most comfortable, wait till he moves into unfamiliar territory. Next time Beazley says something that makes people gasp, that shows he has gone too far and been tasteless in his quest for political traction, maybe Malcolm Farr will apologise for him then too.

If you saw Warren Brown's cartoon a few pages after Farr's article, you'd be forgiven for thinking heartlessness toward the miners was Tele policy. A tragedy isn't a tragedy unless it can be tied back to Sydney, it seems.

Or, perhaps not. Writing the occasional story in favour of an oft-attacked politician might stop the flow of information from drying up completely, because you never know how many of Beazley's supporters might stay around until the next Labor government. It might give a senior, hidebound reporter that he's really the young iconoclast the considers himself. However, it does nothing for readers trying to work out what alternative they have to the current government (if any). Mend your fences in your own time Malcolm and tell it like it is: Kim Beazley's days are numbered and their road to government begins only after he no longer leads them. Pronouncing that a carcass has pulse disgraces not the corpse but the one making the diagnosis.

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