30 August 2011

Swallow it up

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

- Hosea 8:7 (The Bible, King James Version)
Destroying opposition leaders is brutal work and it is a relief to see the Prime Minister realise finally that it is an essential part of her job. Some pests can't just be swatted away: there comes a point where you have to get out some strong and smelly chemicals and blast them to kingdom come (starting with some Old Testament can really get the blood moving!). She finally got up on her hind legs in Question Time last week, and she really gave it to Milney and News Ltd and seems to have stunned Andrew Bolt into silence. While welcome, this won't matter if it isn't part of a pattern that shows that she will not tolerate empty stunts from The Situation as somehow balancing substantive achievement.

Niki Savva believes that it's just a "mission" for the Opposition to have a go at the Government, but if the Government dishes it back, horror!
IF the Gillard government could pin the Ibrahim family's gang wars in Sydney and Mick Gatto's successful auction bid for lunch at the Lodge on Tony Abbott, then it would. Throw in the London riots, too. After all, the Opposition Leader visited there around the same time.
That's what passes for wit from Savva; its lowest form, certainly, but standard fare for someone who's spent far too long in Canberra. It's the sort of thing Peter Costello used to come out with when flailing various members of the ALP, the sorts of performances that weaker personalities on his staff like Savva and Tony Smith absorbed into their core perspectives on life. It's the sort of thing that journalists complain about when coming from bloggers or "the twittersphere".

Now that the Liberals aren't in government Savva believes it's somehow illegitimate for Liberals to be on the receiving end of any form of criticism, hype or bluster. Savva's kernel of truth is neutered by her hypocrisy. She has put the Liberals in breach of one of the basic laws of politics: if you're big enough to dish it out, you have to be big enough to cop it.
In the last little while Labor and its acolytes have blamed Abbott's scare campaign on the carbon tax for making it impossible for the government to sell its policy, and further that some of his lines of attack are either xenophobic or racist. His negativity about May's budget made it flop. He has talked down the economy so much he has shaken business and consumer confidence. He created sovereign risk and devalued assets by getting stuck into the coal-seam gas industry. The workers he claims to stand up for will be destroyed by Son of Work Choices.
When you've been around politics for as long as I have, you'll remember Peter Costello or Keating or even Malcolm Fraser's Treasurers getting stuck into every opposition leader and most of their frontbenchers for talking down the economy, creating sovereign risk, shaking business and consumer confidence, doing over the workers, etc. The last budget "flopped" about as much as any of Costello's budgets "flopped". That's politics for ya.

I don't blame Abbott for failing to sell the carbon tax, but then again it would be lazy to assume I'm some sort of Labor acolyte.
[Abbott] has trashed democracy, breached the divide between the justice system and the executive, and infected Australia with down and dirty Tea Party politics.
Let's see how Savva addresses these strong claims with her very next paragraph:
Meanwhile, the Craig Thomson scandal ...
Let's not admit that critics of The Situation have a point: let's just complain that what's sauce for the goose shouldn't be sauce for the gander.
If you want scandal, look at that female Liberal senator charged with shoplifting $92 worth of goods from the supermarket. And Abbott hid it for two months! Shame.
Don't forget the question of assaulting a guard who apprehended Fisher, Niki; a guy doing his job and standing up for his employer gets thumped by some pampered jobsworth from Canberra, without so much as a phone call from George Brandis. Surely your long-standing concern for health sector workers extends to those protecting struggling retail outlets from smash-and-grab raids.

Mary Jo Fisher was charged in South Australia and will be tried there. Policing and courts are run by state governments, and the State Government of South Australia is a Labor government. If a Liberal senator had been charged by the NSW Police when Labor was in State Government here, they would have used it to absolutely negate the next attack by state or federal Liberals. Maybe the SA government really has run its course.

Anyway, back to Savva:
Not only is Abbott culpable for asking questions about this and ignoring massive job losses in manufacturing as if that is suddenly a good news story, which I guess comparatively it is [sic], he is also remiss for not asking them sooner.
Shit happens, eh Niki?
She insists it would have been unremarkable for her adviser to call a public servant to check a fact.
Did Peter Costello never call Ken Henry or any other public servant to check matters of fact? Really?
... when Abbott calls for an explanation, attack puppy Craig Emerson denounces him for maliciously smearing the Prime Minister and calling her a liar.

Never mind they had set the hounds after George Brandis, CSI, for calling the NSW Police Minister and the Police Commissioner to advise he was seeking an investigation into Thomson's activities.
Savva is complaining that the government is giving the opposition as good as it gets.

Let's assume the "CSI" thing is a typo for "SC": maybe a public servant could have helped check that. Besides, it calls to mind George looking into dead things, which one or two actual lawyers might doubt is within George's competence.
Emerson had to spoil it all by being unable to answer questions on travel warnings to the US during Cyclone Irene, forgetting his day job was Acting Foreign Minister.
I thought it was "attack puppy".
And they reckon this issue is not distracting the government.
Since when is the Australian government distracted by Cyclone Irene? What vast numbers of travellers planning a trip to the United States listen in to Question Time for a travel advisory? Or, could it be that a supposedly experienced journalist and staffer (i.e. someone who lives and dies by the way they express themselves) has flung some sloppy wording at the reader in a fit of partisan frustration?

Not a word about The Situation's economic policy failure on manufacturing, and how Emerson skewered him well and truly. Costello was right about Abbott, Niki, as are Emerson and Paul Kelly: the guy really is an economic moron. Why would anyone want an economic moron running this country? So Greek.
In a revealing interview on Friday, Leon Compton, of ABC Statewide in Tasmania, valiantly and repeatedly tried to elicit from Gillard some expression of concern about allegations of gross misuse of union members' hard-earned contributions. All he got were platitudes ...
No, this is a standard thing with journalists who confuse themselves with big-time interviewers Holding To Account. It's dumb, it's boring, but they keep doing this terrible journosphere cliche. It goes like this: an investigation is underway, so the journalist asks the politician about it. The politician says let the investigators investigate, I won't interfere. The journalist keeps on asking anyway: this pantomime is what journalists call "hard-hitting".

The Prime Minister gave a reasonable and responsible response, but Leon sucked up all her time with some sort of insistence that she interfere with an official investigation: so hard-hitting, so valiant.
[Gillard] thinks her only hope is to make [Abbott] appear unacceptably risky, hopelessly negative, internally inconsistent and completely ill-equipped to be prime minister.
Yep. Perhaps not her only hope, but this could be the closest thing you'll get to cogent political analysis from Niki Savva.
He is drawn into every story, every scenario when really, if the government wants people to recognise and focus on its achievements, ministers should talk about them more and him less.
They do, then journalists - harried by imaginary notions of "balance" - chuck in one of his stunts and insist that the government comment on it. They've sunk into the abyss by giving him respect and courtesy, which includes ignoring his more unhinged remarks. What they're doing now is dishing it back to The Situation and his cronies, and they can't handle it at all.
They make [Abbott] seem effective and unstoppable; however, where they have succeeded, with a lot of help from him, is in making him scary.

Destroying prime ministers is brutal work and it is painful to watch Abbott day after day, Terminator-like, fulfilling his mission. It has paid dividends for the Coalition vote, but it has kept his personal standing low. Until now he has been willing to pay that price. He can't afford to do that indefinitely and if he is looking for a role model to avoid, and one that shows how difficult it is to change perceptions once they are set, she stands before him.
It's at this point that a Coalition apologist will blithely insist that The Situation will flick the switch to Prime Ministerial mode, coming out with good and sensible policies, toning down the over-the-top rhetoric, and doing all those things that The Situation can no more do than fly to the moon.
Abbott has time to soften the negatives ...
But not the capacity, Niki, nor the inclination. If you knew Abbott at all, and were being honest with your readers, you'd know that and you'd admit it.
With Arthur Sinodinos entering the Senate, he has an immediate opportunity to re-weight economic debate. Sinodinos could have a new portfolio of productivity, which gets him into the heart of economic policy without having to unseat anyone already there.
If the Coalition doesn't have anyone focused on productivity, as implied by that proposal, then everyone in the opposition's economic policy team deserves to be "unseated", if not dumped at sea in a chaff bag. Productivity has been a vital concern to this country's economy since the latter term of the Howard government; you'd think that after four years, and with WorkChoices having caused more problems than it solved, they would have come up with a few ideas. If not, they are not ready for government and may never be.

If Sinodinos is the answer, then never mind the Senate - why isn't he candidate for Dobell?
Then, unless he has a new prime minister to deal with ...
Or an old one with a new ticker and a sense of perspective, and who already has form in knocking The Situation into a cocked hat ...
... Abbott should take the summer break to modify and refine his approach. He can afford to ease off. She is pretty much dead woman walking.
That has to be the stupidest political advice since Fraser called an early election in 1983 hoping to pin Hayden to the Labor leadership. Firstly, The Situation might get photographed in his sluggos again, and secondly when he spent a week away the press gallery realised what a vacuous dickhead he really is and he's been battling ever since.

The Situation doesn't have an off-switch, he can't be softened and he doesn't have much of a mind to change. The Situation will go on and on while the Gillard government does grown-up governing work, so that at the next election an imperfect government offers itself for re-election against a clownish alternative that can dish it out but can't cop it. Niki Savva knows The Situation isn't good enough, and her painful equivocations show this; yet, she can't admit it when the critics have a point. Savva should be big enough to realise that you have to be able to cop it if you dish it out, but she isn't. That's politics for ya, Niki, swallow it up.


  1. Lachlan Ridge30/8/11 9:35 pm

    Niki Davva may wish to contemplate the Book of Job, Chapter 38, verse 2

  2. Funny how Savva and her fellow travellers always fail to make any reference to the criminal assault charge against alleged shoplifter Fisher. Half-truthers to the end.