Mar Go!

You’ve got to hand it to Margo Kingston – our own roll-your-own, Oriana Fallaci-in-a Flannie. While lesser political commentators – “Quislings” as Webdiary, rather derivatively terms them – waste time on considered analysis, reasoned reflection and logical conclusion, Margo gets straight to the heart of the matter with simple blind prejudice, bilious assertion and general hyperbolic overload.

Who but Margo was courageous enough to reveal, in the lead-up to the NSW election, that Bob Carr was but the craven tintookie of a veritable Mafiosi of corrupt property-developers? Her brave and fearless revelation of this sordid synergy would, Margo confidently predicted, deal an electoral death blow to this evil cabal. Apart from the subsequent landslide majority for Carr and the ALP, she was absolutely right.

One explanation for this may have been Sideshow Bob’s wicked and underhand tactic of publicly naming Margo as a blame-the-Bali-victim hackette. Margo, who apparently has no problem with Webdiary depictions of her more balanced colleagues as Nazi collaborators, was blown out of the water by this cruel, yet not entirely unreasonable spin on what she had said. For several tedious days it was the biggest political scandal of the decade. But, after a lengthy period of Byronesque convalescence, she was back. And we haven’t heard a word about the wickedness of Bob Carr since.

We have however heard a great deal about the wickedness of her many other political betes-noires. Margo’s singular talent is to detect the biggest political scandal of the decade, on a weekly basis. Never one to call a spade anything other than a massive mechanised earth-moving machine, Margo’s propensity to erect mountains where others see molehills is nothing if not worthy of it’s own ABC satire. Consider this intro from today’s Webdiary:

“John Howard is on the ropes. His tactic to keep himself upright – telling his troops to prepare for an early election – is defensive, not aggressive. He needs his MPs to cheer him on during what could be the worst week of his political career.

Simon Crean has painstakingly built a platform for a potentially devastating assault on Howard’s fitness for office as blind press gallery courtiers rave on about Howard’s ‘golden moment’ and Bob Carr’s tilt at windmills.”

Having utterly destroyed the career of Tony Abbott – while single-handedly exposing the vile, corrupt cesspit that is the Australian Electoral Commission – she isn’t even drawing breath before plunging in to deliver the coup-de-grace to the whole rotten edifice of the Howard dictatorship. By Friday, it could all be over – apparently.

I doubt it somehow. Still, Margo isn’t one to let reality intrude on her crusade. When your stated aim is transparency and honesty in politics, the last thing you need is a bit of clarity……

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53 Responses to Mar Go!

  1. Jason Soon says:

    you do a much better assault on margo than tim blair

  2. Tony.T says:

    Don’t underestimate the ability of a well run campaign to get some bite in the electorate. If Labor are able to continue to raise issues such as ethanol, Tuckey, Abbott or this thing with a leak to Andrew Bolt, and subsequently push them along – the left cheer leaders in the media are every bit as keen to carry the issues as the right are their pets – then it’s not all home and hosed for the Coalition.
    There are parallels with 1999 Victoria. The key is for Labor to forget about why they’re not in power and just get stuck into a full-on whinge campaign. All the while dropping any visible association with the left. The left can have their day in the sun once power is won, but they’re a liability in opposition. It seems petty at first but with every new issue the government is further discredited.
    Of course Brax in 1999 didn’t have to contend with security issues and a coalition leader able to pull those strings to keep them wrongfooted. But he was hugely successful in shutting up his crazy and/or incompetant colleagues. In light of that, just how vocal have the federal looney left been lately? It’s been mostly Rudd and Latham in the drivers seat.
    I reckon the Coalition needs to get some local traction and find a couple of issues there to upset the Labor applecart. Otherwise we’ll go into the next election with the main perception being one of Coalition bad – Labor nothing. Nothing wins. Just like it did here in 1999.

  3. Geoff Honnor says:

    Tony – I’m absolutely certain that it’s anything but home and hosed for the Coalition – nor should it be in my view. It’s just that Margo’s uninformed invective is utterly irrelevant to the outcome – whatever it might be. She’s the most promising material for a black-humoured journalistic satire in recent memory. I’m seeing a kind of Kath and Kim format set around the Webdiary editorial cubicle……

  4. mark says:

    I like how she assumes it’s all part of Crean’s Cunning Plan.

    Yeah, we all know how Blackadder’s Cunning Plans worked out, and he was much more likeable.

  5. Tony.T says:

    Yeah, I take your point Geoff. I was just pointing out that although she’s clearly so bitter she’s gone insane, she’s not necessarily wrong about where things are at. It’s just that how she gets to that “at” is a fairly puzzling journey and guided by spite rather than rational analysis.

  6. Murph says:

    Fair dinkum, that excerpt from today’s webdiary reads like something out of Pravda.

  7. Nemesis says:

    There’s no doubt about it: Margo is in a completely lostthefriggingplot phase.

    Mind you, there does seem to be something in the wind…consult the tealeaves…Blair on the ropes, Bush puffing and blowing, Howard looking less comfy…

    But if Simon the Clueless actually has a Cunning Plan – I will eat all my hats. Even the Australian Greens one.

  8. Jake D says:

    Given that Margo subscribes to a different reality to you and I it’s entirely possible that wherever she exists for the majority of her time *does* have a Simon Crean with a Clue. Either that or the dosage needs to be lowered.

  9. Dave F says:

    Wasn’t it actually Baldrick who had a cunning plan?

  10. mark says:

    From memory, they both came up with cunning plans. Sometimes Baldrick’s turned out to be more sensible…

    ‘Course, it’s been a while since I watched it.

  11. margo kingston says:

    Hi Geoff. You write that that I am someone “who regularly accuses Howard of being a mass-murderer”. Could you point to where I have written such a thing?

    Regards,

    Margo

  12. Geoff Honnor says:

    Margo – you’ve frequently alluded to Howard’s responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of people on an Indonesian fishing boat.

  13. Toryhere says:

    Keep remebering these words: “Federal ALP, wilderness”. It doesn’t matter how many minor scandals the pseuds in the press gallery try to cook up, the Howard Government is safe because it reflects the views of most Australians far better than poor old Simple Simon and his bunch of second-rate union sponsored lackeys.
    The only reason that Simon Crean hasn’t been toppled yet is that there is no one to succeed him. The Labor frontbenchers are all such faceless non-entities that none of them has the profile needed to lead Labor to victory.

  14. Jozef says:

    Baseless allegations are only good to amuse shallowness inside the human spirit …

    Lets get constructive, please.

    The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin — and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.
    -Vaclav Havel

    The Leaders We Deserve?
    by Stephanie Dowrick 13 September 2003, The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend p 57 (Not Available onLine)

    It is easier to decry the mean-spiritedness of our politicians than admit they might just reflect the society we have become.

    I was at a conference recently where at each mention of JohnHoward or Philip Ruddock (and there were many), jeers went up that seemed to indicate that so-called thinking Australia does not think much of its politicial leaders.
    I cannot pretend that I think much of them, either. In fact, I find their stance on key international issues utterly dispiriting. Nevertheless, as the conference continued, I found it almost as troubling that there was so much focus on those individuals, as powerful as they are, when the problems we face seem to me to be shared problems, mirroring the society we are collectively creating.
    It is easy to denigrate (or inflate) Howard and his team. It is less easy to face the possibilitiy that most of us are insular antiintellectual, shallow and selfish. Or so our voting habits and media choices would indicate. Of course we are also friendly, inclusive, egalitarian, etc. But those values do not drive our public policies. And we need to wonder why. I am confident that a fair, tolerant, hospitable, inclusive and not entirely materially obsessed Australia does still exist in many minds and hearts. But the fact that it is running low on currency is not the responsibility of politicians only.
    If the current Liberal (or Labor) leadership were to march into the annals of history tomorrow, Australian politics and policies might not change very much. Psychologically and morally, it is quite possible that on both sides of our Parliament we have leaders who mirror our personal realities all too well.
    To change our social and political outlook significantly, we may have to look much more closely at who we are, and and at what we, individually and collectivelly, stand for. We may need to think about what factors make ordinary people like us mean spireted rather than generous. And we may need to do something decisive about that ourselves -from the group up – rather than assuming meaningful change can happen only from the top down.
    Thinking about our national character is no small thing. We contribute to it. We are also consciously and unconsciously shaped by it. That national character is represented and moulded in key ways by our media and leaders. But those individuals – and the institutions they represent – do not arise out of nowhere. They represent and they certainly respond to the rest of us. Moral imperatives can and do run both ways.
    The idea of broadening responsibility for what our nation is, and is becoming, is unlikely to be welcome. There is something comforting as well as familiar about blaming someone else for whatever mess w eare in.Yet that kind of thinking is itself part of what keeps us in danger of being psychologically small and morally petty.
    In the wake of the horrors of the Third Reich, many fine books were written analysing the social and psychological conditions that allowed fascism to arise. Our historical situation is profoundly different from that of the pre-war Europe. But one lesson we can certainly learn is how contagious and dangerous is the state of mind that is suspicious, defensive, inward-looking, quick to blame others for difficulties, slow to take responsibility for its own actions and, most chilling of all, indiferent to the fate of others.
    Indifference is a psychological defence against feeling. It is the enemy of empathy. It is a failure of imagination. And it is widespread in Australia.
    Maintaining the rage against Howard, Ruddock, Crean or any other political leader may seem like a credible response to indifference.. But it is not a remedy. We are most defensive when we feel least powerful (the most dangerous animal in the forest, my Czechoslovak father used to say, is the injured one: no matter how small) Waking up to our actual power to live out the best of our national values – tolerance, fairness, good humour, inclusiveness – we do more than help ourselves. We free ourselves from the delusion that the destiny of this country is entirely in politicians ‘ hands.
    And we acknowledge the simple truth that our individual wellbeing depends on our capacity to look beyond ourselves – and effectively look out for one another.

  15. Geoff Honnor says:

    I think “getting constructive” is sensible advice Jozef.

  16. Jack F says:

    Jozef writes:

    “But one lesson we can certainly learn is how contagious and dangerous is the state of mind that is suspicious, defensive, inward-looking, quick to blame others for difficulties, slow to take responsibility for its own actions and, most chilling of all, indiferent to the fate of others.
    Indifference is a psychological defence against feeling. It is the enemy of empathy. It is a failure of imagination. And it is widespread in Australia.”

    Widespread in Australia? To what extent that is true, I don’t know, since I don’t live there. To some extent it is probably true of any human society. However, when it becomes pathological in degree is when it becomes dangerous. Try substituting “Muslim world” for “Australia” and it succinctly states why the West is engaged in the war on terrorism.

  17. Toryhere says:

    Nicely put Jack F.

    If Jozef had had the time to sit down with those who jeered the mention of Howard or Ruddock he would probably have found out several things. Firstly, most of those who jeered would probably have just joined in jsut to feel part of the pack.
    A large part of the remainder would have ben indulging in a knee-jerk reaction. If one sat down with these people (as I often have) one would probably be told that they “hate Howard and his government.” But after a quiet reasonable conversation, in which it was demonstrated to them that this Government is much like any other depite the silly claims made by the ranting lefties in the media, the knee-jerkers would probably agree that, yes, Howard and Ruddock are not evil sods.

    The rest of the jeerers would be the Margo Kingstons, the type of ranter who has too much emotional capital invested in hating Howard to ever admit that perhaps dictators like Saddam are a wee bit more evil than our PM.

    Note that I said “emotinal capital” not intellectual capital. The latter is something of which the ranters of the left have very little. Some people call them intellectuals, but I think the title is really misplaced. These people remind me of Evelyn Waugh’s description, in “Brideshead Revisited”, of the character of Rex Mottram as not a whole man, but a few faculties of a man highly developed.

  18. Margo Kingston says:

    Hi again. Geoff. I dispute your allegation that I have accused John Howard of being a mass murderer. Your response to my request for your evidence to back your allegation – “Margo – you’ve frequently alluded to Howard’s responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of people on an Indonesian fishing boat” – merely repeats it. I ask again – please point to where I have made the claim.

    Regards,

    Margo

    regards,

    Margo.

  19. Geoff Honnor says:

    I’ve said all I intend to Margo. Take care.

  20. Unit says:

    If the best retort you can come up with Margo is to isloate one particular comment, then I’m afraid you are doomed. You show the debating skills of a Grade 2 child of average intelligence.

    Your pitiful rants in complete disregard for the facts at hand belong in Al Jezeera, not in the SMH.

  21. Ken Parish says:

    I have to confess to a small degree of nervousness about Geoff’s “mass murderer” throwaway line. Accordingly, I had a quick look at WebDiary’s SIEV X archive page. I couldn’t on a very quick scan find anything where Margo herself suggested Howard complicity in the drownings, but this piece by Marg Hutton and Tony Kevin (which Margo published and seemingly endorses) doesn’t fall all that far short:

    “Remember, readers, this issue is not trivial: it goes to vital questions of Australia’s Rescue at Sea responsibilities in the avoidable deaths by drowning of 353 human souls in what we now definitely know – and, in any decent system of governance, that should have been openly admitted on 23 October 2001 – to have been our country’s Operation Relex air surveillance area.

    It isn’t just our Government’s manifest lack of integrity at issue here – it is the entire rotten no-questions-asked ‘whole-of- government’ border protection system co-ordinated in Canberra by the Prime Minister’s Department. And it emphasises the re-emerging possibility that the system is still hiding much more of what it knew about SIEVX at the time when the boat sank, when lives on board might still have been saved.

    If our country’s governance system can lie so glibly for so long, and initially so convincingly that it snowed the CMI Committee, about SIEVX’s sinking location – what other lies is it still concealing about SIEVX?”

    In the circumstances, although the “mass murderer” line is clearly more than a bit hyperbolic, it seems to me that it falls well within the scope of robust but fair debate. I don’t think the same is true of Tony Kevin. Given the fairly thin evidence on which they’re based, I think Hutton and Kevin’s innuendoes against Howard are grossly excessive, very offensive and deserving of the robust criticism Geoff Honnor’s throwaway line administered.

  22. Jozef says:

    Under communist Czechoslovakia political minders were petrified of writers like Vaclav Havel. In Australia political minders of all colours seem to be more aware what is inside the pages of Webdiary that any Senate Committee transcript…

    Margo is bigger than a throwaway line …However, we also know too well how certain political spinners have a unkind habit of modifying a line into a lie.

    Pushing further into the book How Breakthroughs Happen……here’s modified quote: The pursuit of political discussion changes dramatically when the debate shifts from pushing people to think outside of the box to helping them think in other boxes.

    Margo helps most of us to think in other boxes.
    I do not have to agree with her on every issue, but l am grateful to Margo for keeping issues alive for substantial amount of time (by newspaper standard) and for giving oxygen to emotional subject no other reporter dares to write about let alone engage in dialogues…

  23. Geoff Honnor says:

    Jozef – the point of my satirical swipe is that achievement of stated goals of honesty and truth will inevitably be compromised by going about it via use of the selfsame hype, spin and hyperbole tools whose eradication one is ostensibly seeking.

    Margo may well help us to ‘think in other boxes’ but it’s my opinion that her box construction methodology owes as much to “spin” as that of her opponents.

  24. James Hamilton says:

    Jozef, forgive me, but your posts seem vaguely patronising. I am almost detecting an assumption that you know a bit more about compassion and decency than those people who may disagree with you.

    Speaking for myself, I am not at all keen on changing our social and political character We aren’t perfect but I think we are fairly decent. I don’t happen to agree believe we are mean spirited at all. Furthermore thinking about our national character may be a worthwhile exercise for some, others have neither the opportunity or the inclination, they are too busy working and living.

    Your posts were thought provoking and on the surface there was much to agree with. Yet, I found in your main post a totalitarian subtheme (in my mind) that we needed to improve ourselves and we are somehow failing against a universal set of moral/ethical criteria.

    As for Margo, you are plain wrong – her rubbish is a waste of time.

  25. margo kingston says:

    Hi. It appears Mr Honour is refusing to back his allegation against me with any evidence. I have never made the claim he suggested, or anything approaching it. Nor have I endorsed the claim. I therefore request that Mr Honour – or the publisher of this weblog – withdraw the allegation.

    Regards,

    Margo

  26. Ken Parish says:

    Given that Margo says she doesn’t endorse the remarks of Tony Kevin and Marg Hutton quoted in my previous comment, and that Geoff hasn’t cited any specific basis for his remark, I do think it would be appropriate to withdraw the claim about accusing Howard of being a “mass murderer”.

    I don’t see myself as the “publisher” of this blog (it’s an anarchist collective), but I certainly started it and have the technical capacity to delete or edit posts. I don’t intend to edit this post, but I would acknowledge personally that I know of no basis for claiming that Margo has accused John Howard of being complicit in mass murder. I certainly don’t think the mere fact of publishing the views of Kevin and Hutton on Web Diary amounts to either expressing or endorsing their views. Margo publishes disparate and often conflicting views on Web Dairy, and obviously she doesn’t agree with all of them (any more than I always agree with the views of my co-bloggers). In the circumstances, I think the assertion should be withdrawn. It IS excessive and doesn’t assist reasoned debate.

    I see Margo has plugged one of my posts on Web Diary. I deny any connection whatever between that and the above observations. My opinions aren’t for sale. Well, not that cheap anyway; I may be a blog slut, but not a cheap one.

  27. Margo's First 18 says:

    Oh who is Margo kidding demanding a retraction. If she were forced to retract every mistake she’s made on her wretched, error-riddled little corner of cyberspace, it would be one long We Were Wrong.

  28. Ken Parish says:

    Oops! I meant Web Diary not Web Dairy. I’m milking this for all it’s worth (a cheesy pun, I know).

  29. Geoff Honnor says:

    I’m happy to withdraw the claim in question and will delete it from the post forthwith.

  30. cs says:

    Well done Geoff.

  31. margo kingston says:

    Thanks Geoff. Re linking to this blog, my attention was drawn to Mr Parish’s piece by a reader yesterday. I intended to link to it today, before I was made aware of Geoff’s post and before I sent my first email in response to Geoff’s piece. I’m not absolutely sure of the timing, but I think I linked to Mr Parish’s piece before seeing Geoff’s response to that email.

    Regards,

    Margo

  32. mark says:

    Oh, for the day when a person admitting he’s wrong does not call for congratulations… still, at the moment it’s rare enough and Geoff’s been very courteous and courageous and so on and so forth in doing so.

    Well done, Geoff.

  33. Gareth says:

    Geoff,

    You wrote of Margo Kingston: “Having utterly destroyed the career of Tony Abbott”.

    This is blatantly untrue. I demand you withdraw.

  34. Yobbo says:

    Margo,

    Today you stated in your webdiary that “Howard and Alston intend to press ahead with their plan to hand almost total control of our mass media to Murdoch”.

    Can you please point to evidence that the proposed media bill is designed with the express intent of handing over media outlets to Mr Murdoch. Are there sections of the bill that state that no other proprieters other than Murdoch will be allowed to purchase media companies?

    If not, I demand you withdraw your statement, and every other instance of hyperbole you have used in your excrutiatingly long tenancy at webdiary.

    Thank you,

    Yobbo.

  35. slade says:

    if you dont know the diference between reasoned opinion and factual untruth yobbo you shuld change your name to moron

  36. mark says:

    Gaz and Yobbo, you both know the difference between sarcasm, hyperbole and simple factual errors. [insert bailz’ most-hated phrase here]!

  37. Ron Mead says:

    And of course, Mark, you would be aware that simple (and gross) factual errors are often contained within sarcasm and hyperbole. The left is fond of throwing about the epithet “lies” at conservatives at every opportunity. To label falsehoods “simple factual errors” when perpetrated by a hero of the left is more than a little self-serving and hypocritical.

  38. mark says:

    Uh, Ron, by “simple factual errors” I was referring to Geoff’s mistake. As in, it’s not a lie, but it’s not forgivable sarcasm or hyperbole either (which is why I’m glad he retracted it).

    I probably throw around insults a little too freely at times; however, “liar” is one that’s reserved for actual, proven liars, like Janet Albrechtsen and Ann Coulter. People with whom I disagree, like Tim Blair or (yes, believe it or not!) Margo Kingston are merely “people with whom I disagree”, or (as the mood takes me) “evil fascist/Communist storm troopers”.

    (Yes, that last bit was a joke).

    Now, as for the rest of your comment: I respect and admire Geoff as an intelligent man and a good writer. However, calling him a “hero of the left” is more than a little self-serving and hypocritical… er, I mean, odd.

  39. Geoff Honnor says:

    Good God! I withdraw one statement and I’m a Hero of the Left? If only Che had known it was that easy! He’d still be with us today……

    But….I doubt, Mark, that Ron had me in mind when he made that claim. If he did, I have to say that I will happily wear it as there’s not nearly enough rollicking satire in the blogosphere – from my perspective ;)

  40. Gareth says:

    Mark: read your own advice.

  41. mark says:

    Gareth: I would, but bailz would hit me with a halibut.

    Geoff (Honnor, I hope): There is a catch. I hope you already wear your underwear on the outside; if not, you’d better be prepared to make the switch. And just wait ’till your cape comes back from the dry cleaners’!

  42. Niall says:

    As amusing as the by-play may be, interjections into what amounts to a serious interchange of opinions, the likes of messrs Parker and Ward do nothing for the standing of either this blog, or their own reputations, such as they may be.

  43. T.Surprised says:

    Says Niall, he of the mile high reputation.

  44. Geoff Honnor says:

    Gareth and Sam, Niall? Fine, community-spirited young blokes.

  45. slade says:

    vomit on keyboard

  46. Yobbo says:

    Goddamit. Niall doesn’t like me. Looks like I’m going to have to cut my throat after all.

  47. Ron Mead says:

    Don’t worry, Sam. It’s his way of showing he really cares.

  48. Nemesis says:

    Good on ya, Margo.

    Now – can you please explain why you think Simon Crean has a plan/strategy (or even a clue).

    This is a serious question – I am desperate to vote for the man (on a blind, prejudiced anyone but Howard basis) but first I need to know why.

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