My Oxford English Dictionary has not got to ‘bloviate’ yet, but I gather it means to talk windily or wordily – if there is such a word. Greg Sheridan used it once or twice, but then I think he stopped using it. Perhaps because his paper makes an art form of it. Here are the starts of two articles in The Australian the other day. One is by Paul Kelly.
In the contemporary world, politics follows culture. But what has happened in Australia over the past month is that culture is not predetermining politics – it is devouring it. Scott Morrison confronts a long seeded cultural change originating in the everyday experience of women, yet an ideological movement filled with revolutionary dimensions. Fifty years ago, most people saw sexual relations as a private issue – but sexual relations are now a political issue, indeed a frontline political issue. The Liberal Party struggles to manage this – just as conservative parties around the world are struggling with such a revolutionary change. It arises from two events – the almost mundane demand of feminism that women be treated with genuine respect in every aspect of life and the rise of the politics of the self, the politicisation of feelings and of psychological oppression no longer to be tolerated.
The other was by Dennis Shanahan.
Scott Morrison has strategically moved to broaden the issue of sexual harassment and mistreatment of women into a societal problem that is not restricted to Parliament House or the Liberal Party. Simultaneously, Labor has tactically sought to microscopically concentrate on the Prime Minister, his reactions and responsibility for despicable sexualised behaviour that is being revealed.
Well, if you know the distinction between politics and culture, you will have no trouble with the distinction between societal and social, or sexual and sexualised, and no problem in seeing how Clausewitz would have distinguished between the strategic response of the government and the tactical approach of the opposition. (Naturally, in the Murdoch press, it is Labor that is demeaned.) But from what was Prime Minister Morrison moving so strategically? Apart from a certified moron, and the ghost of Chairman Mao, does anyone on earth believe that the problem of sexual harassment is ‘restricted to Parliament House or the Liberal Party’? And what is the ‘revolutionary change’ that people are struggling with – as against ‘the long seeded cultural change’? And what could be ‘private’ about an allegation rape in the office of a Federal Minister involving two people on my payroll?
There’s a much older word than ‘bloviation’ for this stuff. It’s bullshit.