Like hanging, an election concentrates the mind, at least if you are a political junkie. So I suppose it is only natural that I should have been reflecting on the day that Kevin Rudd stopped playing with our minds and called the election, and on how the campaign has shaped up.
My first thought was for Tony Abbott. There are now millions of Australians who are putting their trust and confidence in him to stem the tide of decay which they see, rightly, as undermining their country. It is a huge burden on him, made doubly heavy by his having had to put up with the stress and strain for the past four years. Gillard and Rudd have both had extended periods of comparative ease during the political cycle, while their party regrouped for successive bouts of bloodletting. But for Abbott, it has been continuous pressure since he was elected as leader of the opposition in 2009. He has carried himself well and had some remarkable achievements. He stopped the Liberal party from self-destructing and turned it into an efficient fighting machine, destroyed one prime minister, virtually won an election, destroyed another prime minister and put the party in a winning position for the next election. So the supreme efforts of his colleagues and supporters should be directed solely to supporting him in every way. My advice to Tony Abbott: do what you have been doing for the past few years and use your own judgment; it has worked well so far.
Naturally, my second thoughts were about Kevin Rudd. Listening to his rambling exposition as he announced the election date, I could not help but think that the narcissist is still alive and well and disturbingly so. The recent history he recounted certainly had a bizarre twist to it. It seems that a series of crises that only he has been able to discern have been building up, while the rest of us have been slumbering and have now converged to where, thanks to the inscrutable workings of providence, he has been put in a position to save the nation. The extraordinary thing is that no mention is made in this version of recent history of any of the real events that have led us to the point where the nation needs saving or his part in causing them: the gross incompetence, the excessive borrowing and the wasteful spending. But for the narcissist those events simply did not happen. My guess is that Rudd’s strange outlook on life and his even stranger response to it are becoming more apparent as the days go by and we are reminded of his erratic behaviour. But the delusions this time are seriously disturbing in a national leader; here I stand, he seems to say and believe, ready to give you my unique insight into the powerful forces at work and to let you contribute to my glory by coming forward with your humble donation as together we embark on a journey that will lead to the promised land.
As for the campaign itself, there does not seem to be much enthusiasm surrounding it. It is certainly not a fire and brimstone election, or at least not yet. My guess is that this has been building up for a long time, that people have steadily come to the conclusion that a change of government is necessary and desirable and that they are now quietly biding their time until, mercifully, the day of judgment arrives. In the meantime, we will just have to persevere with watching the slow and steady death march of a thoroughly discredited government. It might be due to the, so far, subdued nature of the campaign, that ABC1’s 7.30 has enlisted me to give some anecdotes on the fun and games of electioneering in the good old days. For those who miss the broadcast, my thesis is that the old days of town hall meetings and personal canvassing were better, but they have gone, and the present regime of so-called social media, sanitised press conferences and stage-managed appearances and rallies have created an unfortunate barrier between the people and the politicians they elect.
To revert to Rudd’s press conference announcing the election, I was disappointed that the press gallery threw up the usual milksop questions that enabled Rudd to ramble on and avoid scrutiny of the delusional nonsense he was spouting. It is the other big change that has taken place over the years; journalists (who are no longer reporters because they no longer report) have forgotten how to ask questions, and in any event they never ask difficult ones and seem to be content with making assertions that allow their subjects to ramble on with whatever they like. We are really let down by the press and I hope the election campaign sees an improvement in their performance.
I sometimes think that if we did not have refugees, we would have had to invent them. The intelligentsia seem to need them as a sort of precious bodily fluid to keep them going. Without refugees, our progressives would just die away, denied a suitable objective to which they can channel all their guilt and concern. American progressives have always been more fortunate than ours. They always had slavery and segregation to fuel a thousand articles in the New York Times and careers as Hollywood celebrities. But Australians have had nothing like that, or not until the refugees came along. Now that they have this worthy cause, they can make money all day and then let the grief and guilt take over, showing that they are truly compassionate and caring.
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