It’s been a long time since I’ve brought some knowledge to you and a lot has happened in that time.
When I was last writing, I was quite depressed at the cynicism of the Howard government and the inability of so many people to be able to see through the obvious deceptions and still be talking up the fear of an ALP government in regard to fiscal responsibility. The polls were all looking favourable and it didn’t look like the Libs could possibly come through but we’d seen that before and they still pull it off.
When Beazley told us, “I. Want. The Job.”, it looked like a lay down misère until the Tampa showed up and even fairly rational papers, like The Age, published 3/4 page photos on the front page, of an aerial view of the un-Christian invaders, praying on the deck to their savage god. At that point, Howard began to play on the racism that he’d been fostering in the populace since, rather than shutting down Pauline Hanson when she started with her xenophobic, uneducated rants, he didn’t explicitly state that racism is bad and actually applauded the prospect of not having to care about political correctness in the public realm. If our politicians don’t need to worry about being sensitive when dealing with the sly, slitty-eyed Asians, the godless towelheads or the unvaryingly alcoholic and abusive Abos then why should any normal white person living in the suburbs worry about it either?
If that weren’t enough, by the time election day had come, on November 10, 2001, more of those brown infidels had launched an attack on the entire free world by flying planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the US and there’s no way anyone would take the risk of an untested government on the brink of a world war.
Personally, I don’t think Beazley was ever a realistic prospect for Prime Minister. It was only that the Howard government had made such a mess of things up to Tampa that they were set to lose government regardless of who the alternative was – even the proverbial drover’s dog. That line from Beazley – “I. Want. The Job.” – during the debate pre-Tampa, still makes me cringe. It wasn’t a line that he owned – it was a line of spin, of marketing, that he’d been very consciously fed by the backroom spinmeisters of the ALP that seemed to have complete control over how that election campaign was run.
Beazley couldn’t sell the lines that he was fed and he looked embarrassed delivering them. But then, he looked embarrassed or uncomfortable quite often when he was leader. On top of not being a strong personality and having a couple of recurrent health problems, he was too much of a teddy bear. Look at him there, in that picture. He’s towering over Howard and Ray Martin. It gives him a definite natural advantage as a party leader – Malcolm Fraser was a tall party leader, Gough Whitlam was a tall party leader – but Kim could never capitulate on that natural advantage because of the way that he held himself and because, regardless of how much weight he lost in the lead-up to that election, he always looked like a big, cuddly teddy bear.
I suspect it is an issue that Joe Hockey will come up against if he ever becomes leader of the Liberal Party. As much of a head-kicker as he may be in his actions, he still has that big, round neck that comes out to meet the bottom of where his chin should be, with the Droopy Dog speech type where he doesn’t really move his lips enough to be clipped in his enunciation because his lips are such great slug-like sausages of flesh, and the perceived inches of soft flab all over his body that infer the cuddly bear body that doesn’t lend itself to being a strong leader. I’ve never seen Joe Hockey in real life and I’ve not taken the time to observe how he stacks up, height wise, against the other members of the opposition but we have many opportunities to see him on camera, as a regular on breakfast TV and political interviews, and, with the framing and the tendency of the camera to add weight, comes across as someone that can’t really be taken seriously.
In the run-up to the next election, with Mark Latham as leader, the ALP seemed to have taken the next generational step and instilled the party with new blood and a new energy. Surely the factional power brokers that installed Latham into the leadership position should have known that 1) Latham had a history of violence that was undeniable, well documented and would inevitably become an issue that the Libs would be able to exploit and 2) he was still prone to anger management issues and that those issues would likely be brought out in the undisciplined Latham under the pressure of leading a federal election campaign. For those deal makers to put Latham in that role, surely, was an act of gross stupidity and, if we’re following the trail back, they’re the source of an additional term of damaging Howard rule.
By the time election day came around – in fact, probably two days before that – Latham’s attitude had wasted another strong lead in the polls over Howard and thrown the election away. It wasn’t until the day after that loss that I saw the footage of the infamous handshake at the Sydney radio station, which was an act of physical aggression – you could almost call it assault – against Howard, shaking him around like a frail little rag doll and standing over him, asking threateningly, “You right?”, while the cameras of the nation’s media snapped and rolled tape. Political views aside, Howard was like the shrinking little grandfather that was likely to break a hip if he sneezed too hard. What a fucking idiotic cunt. And then to virtually go into hiding, not even communicating with fellow party members – people he’d supposedly been on the frontlines with in the trenches of the election battle – before addressing the media at an anonymous suburban park to announce his resignation over a very convenient malady. It was barely a surprise that he then started to act like a bitter spoilt brat, attacking everyone else in the ALP and insisting that the election loss was all their fault and he wasn’t responsible at all. The only thing notable about the publication of his ‘diaries’, full of vitriol about how everyone else had it in for him, was that any publisher would bother to take it on and expect to make any profit out of it.
All I’m saying is that as large as the polls were saying the lead of the ALP going into the 2007 election was, you could never fully trust that they would translate into the actual election result.
Now it’s 2009 and we’ve seen off Howard but things aren’t so different in too many ways. What was traditionally the left of the political spectrum has shifted to the right of centre and there is no alternative for a those of us who retain some humanity and didn’t get sucked into the promises of 12 years of Howard.
I hope I can clarify what’s really going on behind the spin for you in future posts – in this post-Howard era and on the first 9/11 since Bush left office – and that you’ll come with me on a journey of enlightenment.
After changing web servers and not having the sub-domain or blog up on my friend’s server since late last year, there has just been too much that needs to be said and too much education that is crying out to be shared. So much of it seems so obvious but I think there’s been too much self-involvement from too many people and we, as a nation, as the first world, have forgotten how to see anyone else around us. That’s why I’ve resurrected the blog and will be looking to foster as much discussion and participation as I can.