The Australian Spectator greatly admired and strongly supported Tony Abbott as PM. Its writers were very rude about people they saw as ‘Abbott-haters’ – a term they had to share with shock jocks and The Australian about the ABC and the Fairfax press and others. It was therefore natural that the fall of Mr Abbott would cause as much pain to The Spectator as it did to Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones. And the pain really shows.
The cover for 26 September has a crude cartoon of the new PM with some waffles. The editorial refers to the ‘excruciating love-in’ with Leigh Sales on the ABC – Anti-Christ at home in Hades.
Mr Turnbull’s entire 22 minutes of verbiage could be summed up in half a dozen slogans: Terrorists are bad. War is dangerous. Governments must work. And so on. His lengthy interview with David Speers on Sky News was more of the same with a bit of ‘innovation’ thrown in. The art of communications – and leadership – is to simply express single-minded core ideas and more importantly, to clearly convey goals your government can be measured by, such as ‘stopping the boats’ or ‘scrapping the carbon tax.’ Mr Turnbull’s banal, patronising platitudes seek to obscure the tough decision-making required of government under a fluffy blanket of cheeky smiles and good intentions. This is government for the asinine twitter generation. As we saw back in the days of ‘programmatic specificity’, its charm soon wears thin.
Well, let us put to one side the murder of the English language, and the dynamiting of infinitives – we now know that the Bolt poster-boy is one who has ‘single-minded core ideas.’ Mr Abbott qualifies there – he was not capable of anything else. You think that Syria is tricky? Not on your Nelly. Just pick out a ‘death cult’, keep repeating that ‘single-minded core idea’, and bomb them. But Mr Abbott was fired not because he was beyond ‘the tough decision-making required of government’, but because he had lost the nerve to make any decision at all.
Mr James Allen is in a more mortal form of agony. ‘But why are we Abbott supporters now supposed to help Turnbull.’ It would I suppose be damned silly to respond: ‘Perhaps because you are Australians?’ Mr Allen contemplates what might be called the Japanese gambit of hara-kiri:
It’s better sometimes to blow the whole thing up and –let’s be honest – lose to the other team. Why? Because you’ll have sent a message that loyalty ‘and no white anting’ and giving us support when things are a bit tough are the price they have to pay, not just that you have to pay. Reciprocity baby. Signal-sending my friend.
This sulking really is selfish. Political parties are what used to carry the system. The failure of the system comes in large part from the failure of the parties.
Can Mr Turnbull redeem himself? Yes. How? ‘Bring back the pre-election promise to repeal most (or better yet all) of the ghastly 18C.’ Here you have precise insight into the doctrinal purity, so removed from the sense of the nation, which saw our last PM hit the fence with such vigour.
Mr Philip Murphy likes the kitchen sink in the gutter. The reference to King Cnut is a reference to the crude abuse of an Abbott staffer to the new PM, in itself a golden reminder of the failure of that part of our constitution that said an impartial civil service was essential to our system. Apart from puerile vulgarity, we know that we are again lost in intellectual abstractions and labels by the sub-heading: ‘Will Malcolm Turnbull be able to hold back the rising tide of illiberalism.’ If you are too liberal, you become illiberal.
Poor Mr Murphy also got Leigh Sales. Why do these people torture themselves acquiring the stigmata of Antichrist from the ABC and Fairfax? What really scares Mr Murphy? Mr Turnbull’s
….following the pattern of others who have been involved in creeping republicanism. The mooted execution of Knights and Dames is no doubt on top of such a list.
The disease of eternal irrelevance extends to the once respectable parent. It says that Pope Francis ‘has become the darling of the international left’ and ‘an engaging chatterbox’, but that he should spend less time on the environmental crisis – where his view is ‘alarmist’ ‘and whose scale he may be exaggerating’ – and more time worrying about Christians in the Middle East.
You must feel sorry for these people, eternal victims not just of Fairfax and the ABC, but of Islam, and now the Holy Father and the Supreme Court of the USA. They have to carry the whole Christian world on their shoulders surrounded by all those demons.
But they are so removed from the rest of the nation that they are political poison. Australians distrust political theories and ideologies and people who claim to have the answer and look down on others. We look for something that works, not for doctrinal correctness. Since we get that from the English, it is curious that people who treat English as a comfy rug do not get it. Make no mistake – these are the people who brought Abbott down.
Just ask Mark Textor, the man who got him the job. (Peta says she got it for him, but Mark’s is the stronger claim.)
Nothing says more about the reality marginalisation of shock-jocks and news columnists than their misinterpretation of the decency of middle Australia over Goodes. Most want media-fuelled division to end.
If I may say so, that was exactly my sense of the reaction of most Australians, and it was an occasion of an appalling lack of leadership on the part of the then P M. He was the victim of ideologically induced gutlessness. It used to happen all the time.
And he is now just a bad loser. As is Mr Campbell Newman. According to the AFR, he is publishing a memoir Can Do which includes the following:
They [journalists] are not interested in the government or reform or the reasons behind the decisions we made. They are only interested in the tactical, the here and now, they only ever look for short-term politics and gossip. And they have got a nerve to ridicule people like me who tried to actually get things done. And they have always ridiculed and sneered.
Failed politicians are desperately unattractive people. They and their failed fan clubs are very bad sports.
And we beat the Poms in the World Cup. On their own turf. And one of the princes was there. Barracking for the wrong side.
Poet of the Month: Yeats.
I propose to add to the bullshit column, when I remember, an extract from a poet of the month. The poet for October is Yeats. The poetry will not relate to the bullshit, but hopefully provide some respite from a tedious world. The following extract is from A Prayer for my Daughter.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?