26 October 2010

Run over by a solid mandala

I'm not even a Liberal any more, and I still despise Nick Minchin. The only thing that will cure that is a kind of pitiful humanity for a man whose grin reminded me of the metal fittings on a coffin. It's happening, damn his eyes; Nick Minchin's whole public persona had been all Waldo Brown until recently but now his Arthur is coming out.

He put the hash pipe away to get a job with the Liberal Party in the late 1970s, helping to spike the state's Liberal government after a single term soon after. As State Director of the Liberal Party he euthanased another Liberal State government in the '90s and handpicked Federal and State candidates distinguished by nothing more than loyalty to him. As Communications Minister he confused the commercial interests of Telstra with the telecommunications needs of the nation, and believed in a political constituency of Telstra shareholders that does not exist. As shadow minister for communications, defence and mining, the journosphere thought he'd keep Labor on their toes: he did bugger-all to challenge, or even discomfit, Labor in government. On top of all that, he is more responsible than anyone - except, perhaps, Mr & Mrs Bernardi - for this.

The appalling injuries suffered by his son (who knew that such a cold fish could reproduce, let alone not do what all the other cold fish do and let their offspring struggle by without them?) saw this supremely political animal place something other than politics uppermost in his life. I was stunned at the humanity of a man who disdained any semblance of it in others. I thought he would slink back to Adelaide and pull some strings to get better outcomes for his son than were available to other South Australians, all the while bemoaning the public health system and the sort of do-gooders who go into the hardscrabble caring professions in the first place. He may yet do that, but recent events show he might be undergoing the sort of rethink that leads some to madness, others to Damascene conversions; and still others to confuse one with the other.

First this - Costello won't thank him for that and nor will anyone else - and now that. Minchin's son Oliver was training to become an army officer, and being injured in training is neither worse nor better than being injured on the battlefield. If he keeps this sort of thing up he'll go the way of Malcolm Fraser. It may be hard to imagine Nick Minchin clinging to the wire fence around a detention centre singing We Shall Overcome, but at this rate the day is not far off.

For such a powerful man, Minchin seemed unable to do anything but have a heartsink at times like Iraq, or when he realised that Howard couldn't win in 2007. All political careers end in failure but Minchin's is one that might just yield something unexpectedly beautiful and nutritious from all that shit.

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