Sunday, January 23, 2011

A political quote to ponder

".... I carried you through the whole 1984-1987 parliament, insisting you look like the prime minister, even if your staff, the Manchu Court I called them, were otherwise prepared to leave you in your emotional hole. No other prime minister would have survived going missing for that long. But with my help, you were able to. Kevin Rudd had two months of bad polls and you were the first to say he should be replaced. And you have since repeated it."

- Former PM of Australia and former Deputy PM Paul Keating in a letter to former PM Bob Hawke

Some quotes from the archives

Leadership is always a lonely race. Anyone honest about their reflections on that reaches the same conclusion....I’ve always just been a person who believes in rowing his own race, that is, doing what you believe to be the right thing, doing it with vigour, doing it with conviction and doing it with determination.
- former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd quoted by David Marr in "Power trip: the political journey of Kevin Rudd." Quarterly Essay. Number 38, p. 40.

Kevin has worked hard at becoming normal. He’s come close but I don’t think he’ll ever quite get there, But I don’t think you want a Prime Minister to be normal, do you?
– Wayne Goss, former Premier of Queensland, quoted in the book Inside Kevin07: The people, the plan, the prize. by Christine Jackman.

How could you say someone like us is boring?
- Kevin Rudd being interviewed by Rove McManus on the Rove TV show, September 2008

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Video of Rudd helping flood victims in his electorate

Kevin Rudd has been a regular feature in media coverage of the flood disaster affecting large areas of Queensland and also NSW in January 2011. He has been helping to shift the belongings of flood victims in his Brisbane-area electorate. In ABC coverage of Rudd working he gave the journalist a little geographical lecture comparing rivers and implored the journo to "look at the history books". Such a nice nerd!

Kevin Rudd lends a hand to flood victims
Source: ABC News
Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:44 AEDT
Expires: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A thought in early January 2011

Does Tony Abbott still think climate change is "crap", while a large chunk of Queensland and some of NSW currently lies inundated in what is the worst flooding in living memory?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paul Howes' book not really a disappointment, because I didn't expect much anyway

I have been reading the recent book by the "faceless man" Paul Howes titled Confessions of a faceless man. Originality is clearly not a trait that defines Mr Howes. This claustrophobic book gives the reader the viewpoint of Howes during the 2010 election, and it is a visit to a world of power, but also a limited and personal world. Mr Howes displays a lack of self awareness and social awareness in that he does not seem to realise that the whole world doesn't care who he likes or doesn't like, and doesn't attach the same importance to social ties and group membership that he does.

This book has done nothing to dispel my fear that petty personal antipathies were an important factor behind what they did to Rudd. Howes makes quite a few unsupported derogatory claims about Rudd's character in this book. It is alarming that Howes has shown in this book how willing he has been to assume that Rudd was the source of the infamous leaks that damaged the ALP during the 2010 election, assuming the worst about a man. I have found no account in the book of Howes attempting himself to investigate the truth of this matter.

I find it interesting that a man who has assumed so many adult responsibilities at an early age (Howes is a married father of three and the head of a major union at the age of 30, and left home to live independently at the end of year 9, forsaking an education), is so fond of using the term "grown-ups" when taking a snipe at people. I think Mr Howes might have unresolved issues of some type with early origins, and I wonder how much trouble those issues might have caused for everyone to date. Howes is an unusual man - every bit as unusual as Rudd, and I am surely not the only person who has noticed that Howes and Rudd seem to be opposite types - Rudd the socially clunky academic star and Howes with his street-smarts but no education. David Marr should have done a job on Mr Howes, but who would bother to write an essay about a faceless man?

I think it is also interesting that Howes tends to favour using terms such as "bizarre", "odd" and "strange" in reference to things or utterances of others that seem to be mistakes or questionable. Howes seems to be a man who would rather drop innuendos about possible mental heath issues of others instead of stating plain judgements. In this book Howes shows his herd-mentality with his fondness of the mental health diagnosis du jour of Australian commentators - he speculates about narcissistic personality disorder in relation to Latham and Rudd. This says so much more about Howes than it does about anyone else.

I find it interesting how little there is written in this book about those troublesome people beyond the world of the ALP, the media and the union movement. I'm talking about voters, the public. They don't get much of a mention in this book, except for references to undefined people who sent Howes abusive messages through his Twitter account. Howes' term for Twitter is "the shit room" for an obvious reason. I've read much of the book but I still haven't found any bit where Howes tackles the big question about Rudd's relationship with the ALP - the question of why the voters were so very willing to vote for Rudd in 2007, but in other actual elections haven't shown nearly the same electoral enthusiasm for the rest of the ALP for a very long time. Mr Howes seems to be so very wrapped up in his tight and collegiate but limited and sharply defined world that he has forgotten that the business of political parties is courting and winning votes, and then governing.

Another thing that is noticeably almost absent from this book is mention of the other "faceless men". I find it hard to believe that this absence is a reflection of the reality of the time that was supposedly chronicled in this election diary. I guess Howes did not want to paint a picture that looks like an evil conspiracy.

In December 2010 the Australian newspaper reported that Paul Howes is one of the protected sources / US embassy informants named in WikiLeaks cable number 08CANBERRA609. Mention of this matter is yet another thing that is absent from this book, but this is hardly surprising.

I'm sure many people reading this book will be wondering how the people in politics and the media described in this book get anything much done while they spend so much time drinking or recovering from drinking, but I'm sure this will surprise no one, considering the long association that the ALP has had with alcoholics and drunken bonding. It's another world.

If you are really interested in Paul Howes this book is worth a read, because it gives an insight into the psychology of the man, who is probably typical of other ALP figures. Howes' passion for defending the rights of refugees is displayed prominently in this book. But if you are hoping to discover any major new information about the events of June 2010, you will be disappointed.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A political quote to ponder

"Laura, just remember it wasn't the polls that were the reason Kevin was done over. It wasn't because we were worried that he would lose. It was that we were worried he might win and then we'd be stuck with him!"

- an unnamed ALP frontbencher quoted by Laura Tingle on page 77 of her correspondence in Quarterly Essay 39 regarding David Marr's essay "Power trip" in Quarterly Essay 38.

And not a single f*** was given that day about the wishes or rights or opinions of Australian voters, who had installed Rudd as PM in a landslide election just a few years earlier.