13 December 2006

Koutsoukis strikes again

Kevin Rudd and the Federal Labor team can take great comfort in the coming election: Australia's worst political journalist says he can't win. Jeanette Howard may as well start packing for the shift back to Wollstonecraft.

Poor Jase began with some bitchy and shallow impressions and ended by showing that he'd be better off following Lillian Frank around and gushing about her new hat. The politics thing is beyond him.

So Rudd's family looked tidy and happy, as you'd expect from any middle-class family suddenly thrust into the public eye. Given that Rudd is up against Howard, when you see Howard with his wife and kids do they not also look well-turned-out and Pollyanna-happy? Given that Rudd has posited family values as a field on which he is taking the fight to Labor, isn't his own family a metaphor for a wider issue, and a comparison with the incumbent? Dollink, vaht do you mean, a vider issue? Have some more champagne, Jason!

The most detailed description in this piece was of a person who is not a public figure:
The nation was also introduced to Julia Gillard's other half, Tim, a rugged chap who came dressed in a gray vinyl jacket, dark pants, fawn leather shoes, his shirt hanging out and the general demeanour of a man who had just managed to crawl out of Chasers Nightclub in time to make the early flight to Canberra.

- someone who could quite easily be, on JK's description, mistaken for a journalist.

Joe de Bruyn ... One of those self-styled feudal lords

Does de Bruyn really style himself as a "feudal lord"? Is this not something hung on him by lazy journalists? Why do Labor leaders put up with this guy, Jason? More to the point, what was he wearing? The nation has a right to know! (see what comes of lowering your expectations so far that you have to limbo under a Jason Koutsoukis article?).

Jason's main criticism of the new Labor frontbench is that it's, like, so yesterday. Great analysis that. Real insight into the alternative government for the nation.

No commentary linking the fact that Hurley left and that another de Bruyn person, Mark Bishop, isn't contesting the next election. How does that play with your aside about de Bruyn, Jason? What about his close working relationship with Kevin Andrews and Tony Abbott?

What about the fact that journalists bemoan message discipline but when they uncover any departure from it, they punish it harder than any backroom operator ever could? Ever thought to reflect on that, and what it could mean about the way a future government (and your job, Jason) might work?

Nor has he scored many — any? — hits on the Government in his portfolio area of consumer affairs and health regulation in the past two years.

Where might those hits be, Jason? Why don't you conduct an investigation into this area and watch a minister reel before the sheer might of your journalistic skill. That way, you can help your nice mate Laurie while creating some of that political theatre you love so much.

there are still too many of the same old faces sitting at the front.

Well, the government doesn't do all-out-all-change when it reshuffles, and any combination of members of the Federal Labor caucus will include some who've been there a while. Let's leave aside Jason's impression that Labor MPs sit with their faces.

Is Queenslander Arch Bevis, after 16 years in Parliament, getting a bit long in the tooth?

Probably, but this is a man who's weathered more than his fair share of storms over that time. He might have something to say if you listen to him. What was he wearing, Jason? How old is Bevis, anyway? As old as the PM? As old as the average Howard government minister? As old as the average baby-boomer swinging voter?

New MPs such as South Australia's Kate Ellis or the former recording industry executive Julie Owens might lack experience, but they don't lack energy and at least they are something new.

Any qualities other than energy and novelty that a government minister would require, Jason?

Can Rudd win the next election? Anything can happen between now and then, but with 16 seats to win — some of them with margins as high as 5 per cent — you would have to say it's highly unlikely.

Let's look at the last time there was a change of government: fair swing there. The last time there was a change of government, ten years ago, is probably more instructive than the massively different political landscape of 1972. Poor Jase was so caught up in his lunge back to 1969 that he failed to explain why 1972 - not 1996 or even 1983 - is the model Rudd should be following. Part of the criticism of Whitlam's government was that it was full of ideas that had spent too long in the bottom drawer, that spending less time in Opposition (a la Hawke and, in his second chance, Howard) might be a good thing.

His first achievement was to take on the party organisation, a battle from which he emerged as the indisputably dominant figure in the ALP.

More recently, Simon Crean did the same thing and ended up nowhere. Analysis, Jason! Analysis! The last leader to fawn over Gough didn't make it and is hardly a role model going forward for anyone in today's ALP.

Besides, if Rudd waits another five years to become PM all those pissed-off Liberal backbenchers will just get more frustrated, won't they? Better to put them out of their misery a.s.a.p., eh?

The next commentator who complains that journalists have a level of observational and writing skill that mere bloggers lack can just piss off. The journalistic experience of Jason Koutsoukis, and of everyone who regards him as a respected colleague, counts for nothing. Anyone after that who bleats about media ownership laws restricting voices and limiting the ability to hold government to account, will need to explain away this pointless individual.

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