Tony Abbott is Kevin Rudd. Yes, I'm serious; bear with me.
Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007 because he was a more invigorated, less threatening version of John Howard. Tony Abbott won an internal party ballot on the same basis two years later, and then a general election four years after that.
As Opposition Leader, both Rudd and Abbott promised the public they'd be more economically responsible than the incumbents. Neither was to any significant extent, though Rudd was tested in the fires of the GFC in 2008-09 and not found wanting, while Abbott is yet to be tested to that extent.
As Opposition Leader, both Rudd and Abbott rattled the incumbents. Both talked big visions with a future built upon special relationships in Asia (China in Rudd's case, Indonesia in Abbott's) but delivered little. Rudd got the Chinese off-side and Abbott has done the same to the Indonesians.
In the space of a week, Abbott has declared that Australia's best friends are the Indonesians, the New Zealanders, the Japanese - which does seem a bit promiscuous. Abbott has insisted that a free trade deal with China be concluded within a year; there would be more activity from the Chinese than there has been if they were serious about making that happen.
Both men promised orderly, even boring, competent governments. Neither delivered.
Both accused their predecessors of being fiscally profligate, then did everything their predecessors did and more.
Rudd said that what we need in education its lots of extra facilities and upskilled teachers. He failed to deliver. Abbott says that what we need is lots of chalk-and-talk; this is the Kevin Donnelly Moment. That won't work either.
Both promised to act on climate change. Rudd put insulation into people's homes to uneven results and Abbott plays dress-ups in firie gear. Davidson RFS (Abbott's volunteer bushfire unit) is going to get a reputation for having lots of schmick new gear but not being deployed to use it where needed.
Rudd got his jollies from going to international conferences. Abbott gets his from riding his bicycle. Both claim public entitlements in large quantities for doing so, but their ability to link of those events back to their day jobs is tenuous.
Rudd positioned himself in the centre thanks to the NSW Labor Right, yet it was the left who saved him from obscurity. Abbott was a creature of the Liberal Right, yet they're on the outer and he has surrounded himself by former moderates. His moderate mask threatens to eat his face. Both men have played the most dangerous game you can play in politics: irritating your friends and appeasing those who care little for you, while being distracted by the realities of government from which not even a control-freak chief of staff can fully protect anyone. Remember it was Alister Jordan's missteps that gave Julia Gillard the motivation/excuse to topple Rudd; just because Peta Credlin says she's infallible, and fools cowering Libs and Nats into believing that, it doesn't mean she is.
Rather than wake up to this story, journalists act all puzzled at both men. As Opposition Leader, Rudd/Abbott was a fellow of infinite jest, always ready with a quip and a grab. As PM he's come over all stuffy and distant, and they're as surprised as though it was the first time this ever happened. The PM seems to hold their own in staged events with all those world leaders but the journalists don't really understand what's going on so they give Our Man the benefit of the doubt, and don't engage with detractors who explain why he's not the big-time operator he seems up there on that stage.
I thought Abbott was so poor that he wouldn't become PM at all. I was wrong about the latter so I should be wrong about the former - I'm enough of a patriot to want the Prime Minister of my country to succeed, even though I didn't vote for him. Yet, it looks like the jock will pike the big challenges just as surely as the nerd did.