Passing Bull 275 – Political commentary

Our press can be very bad on politics.  The other day a leading daily opened a column on page one about the decline of the PM in the polls as follows.

Scott Morrison has resisted the temptation to take the gloves off with premiers using quarantine failures to mask their own inadequacies.  To do otherwise would be counterproductive as he plays a long game.

The suppressed premise is that the states are mainly responsible.  That is the position of this paper.  It is a fair bet that the writer thought he was being complimentary to the PM.  That is also the position of this paper.  It probably did not occur to the writer that he was drawing attention to the main criticism of the P M – that he is more interested in playing the game – leading in opinion polls and at elections – than governing as a matter of principle.  And it probably did not occur to the writer that in declining to blame the states, the P M was avoiding what people dislike most about our federal structure – the capacity of unprincipled people to pass the buck.

Later, the writer refers to the ALP as ‘the other side.’  That is also the position of this paper.

Labor now has a strategy focussed on bringing Morrison’s numbers down through an agenda derived of grievance politic.

Oh, dear – when you are addicted to cant, you are prone to this kind of ungrammatical grab.  ‘Grievance’ has a long history in our constitutional growth.  The parliament could refuse aid to the Crown until it answered their ‘grievances’.  It is the function of the Opposition to air those grievances and advance ways another government might deal with them.  It is not a matter of bringing down the numbers of one man by an ‘agenda’ plastered with a sticky label.

This kind of reporting is fond of the phrase ‘the Canberra bubble.’  It is not a compliment.  But this kind of reporting shows why people just give up on the whole bloody lot of them.

Bloopers

Indeed, Greene seemed to take the remarkable position that it was somehow self-centered of Congress to be trying to find out why the Capitol was attacked. She began her statement by saying that she opposed the commission ‘because I believe this institution’s duty is to serve the people of this country and not itself’—as if convening a joint session to certify the peaceful transfer of power was a kind of petty indulgence.

The New Yorker, 23 May, 2021.

Even though Macron did explicitly accept French responsibility in relation to the Rwandan genocide, his mea culpa was followed up by an equally explicit exoneration: ‘The killers who stalked the swamps, the hills, the churches, did not have the face of France. France was not an accomplice.’ This was a historic acknowledgment written as a non-liability clause.

Financial Times, 6 June 2021

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