Some people have something to say and other people just have to say something. Anthony Albanese is firmly in the latter category.
The Labor leader, who is clearly struggling with an acute case of relevancy deprivation syndrome, yesterday called a special press conference to showcase his growing irrelevance.
Having failed miserably to assert himself in any meaningful way in domestic affairs, the would-be prime minister who is preferred by just 26% of voters, decided it was time to insert himself into the presidential election.
Albanese’s big announcement was that Prime Minister Scott Morrison should pull President Trump into line with a lecture on being a good sport.
Whoever is advising the opposition leader must want him gone soon. You could almost hear the collective eye-roll from the press gallery.
After waxing lyrical on the origins of our alliance with the US and the general importance of democracy, Albo came to his point.
“Scott Morrison has a close relationship with President Trump,” he said, in what was clearly intended to be the most backhanded of compliments.
“He should be contacting President Trump and conveying Australia’s strong view that democratic processes must be respected. I will now take questions.”
There was an awkward silence. A silence long enough for us to feel sorry for the invisible man of Australian politics.
Coronavirus, which is being handled by state premiers, has consigned Albanese to the national sidelines. Unless he wants to pull Victoria Labor leader Daniel Andrews into line – and we all know that is not going to happen — he is merely spectating from a Covid-safe distance, like the rest of us.
The federal Government’s October budget boasted a deficit that a Labor leader like Albanese could only dream of running up. He was reduced to complaining that the financials were sexist. Yawn.
As if all of that was not bad enough, the ghost of former ALP leader Kevin Rudd has been attracting attention almost every day, albeit with an ill-conceived campaign against Rupert Murdoch. But at he’s in the news.
Heck, even Rudd’s cheesy handball videos get more attention than anything Albo says.
If there’s any truth to Oscar Wilde’s axiom that the only thing worse than people talking about you is people not talking about you, then Albanese is very much in the ‘things are worse’ category.
So there stood yesterday’s man, blinking awkwardly, hoping like hell that someone would ask a question in response to his insistence that the government give the US President a stern talking to.
“What possible good could come from your intervention when Republicans can’t even bring the President to heel?” a reporter eventually asked.
It was a polite way of saying, “What the heck are you going on about Albo?!”
So granted, it wasn’t the question Albanese had hoped for. But he bravely soldiered on.
“Well I would have thought that Scott Morrison says he has a strong relationship with President Trump,” Albo repeated, clearly grateful for the chance to again point out that the PM was friends with Evil Orange Man Bad.
One suspects this smear by association (Trump is a goose, the PM gets on well with Trump, therefore the PM is a goose) was the entire point of Albanese’s press conference.
But having made that point twice, he now had to push on as though he really believed intervening in the US election was sensible, let alone possible.
“The fact is that pressure needs to be brought by people who believe in democratic processes,” he said, as if the US was about to descend into tyrannical rule because the US President was asking the US courts to ensure US laws had not been broken during the US election. “These [democratic processes] are values which are universal,” Albanese warned.
Putting aside the fact that democracy is hardly a universal value, what sort of “pressure” could Australia really bring to bear on a supposedly petulant Trump?
Albanese, shrinking in front of the cameras with every word that he spoke, replied straight-faced: “We saw on Saturday night, with both Anastacia Palaszczuk’s acceptance speech and Deb Frecklington’s gracious acceptance of her non-election, her concession speech I think brought credit to our democracy.”
So there you have it.
In the middle of a global pandemic, and with the nation facing soaring unemployment, the Labor leader’s contribution to the national discourse was to suggest Scott Morrison phones Trump and saves the world superpower from impending doom by recounting how nice a couple of Queensland women were to each other last Saturday.
Can you imagine how Anthony Albanese would react if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called to tell him to respect our federal election results?
It is safe to say that if Albanese lasts long enough to see the next federal election, there will be no argument about whether or not his heavy defeat will have been legitimate.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.