So Mr. Howard has this morning climbed into the back of the Prime Ministerial Comcar slid across the shiny leather seat and ordered Jeeves to the Governor Generals pile to officially name the date for the election.
It would, I suppose, have been a surreal moment. Sitting in the back of the car pondering his legacy, and like all memories itll be compressed into a blur of images that bleed into each other with only some standing out clearly, and all distorted by time as though through a wide angle lens. Eleven and a half years compressed into a few seconds of silent reverie. And gone just like that. And hell be asking Australians to make it fourteen. Another three and a half years of whatever has gone before, whatever that was.
And surely thats the problem for the PM because youd think that in eleven and a half years thered be a substantial legacy, but for mine Im hard pressed to see what it actually is.
Therell be endless babble about the economy of course, and interest rates and unemployment figures, and paying down government debt, and Mr. Howard will be asking the people for the opportunity to babble on for another three years about that stuff, and hand over to Mr. Costello who will himself delight in babbling on about that stuff even more vigorously. But the people are weary of that talk. Its like the old line that says nobody on their death bed wishes that theyd spent more time at the office. Mr. Howard is going to offer us three more years of office style drudgery. For the straighteners and punishers and masochists amongst us itll be a no-brainer, but for others who are looking to a nobler vision, Mr. Howards deathbed confession as Paul Keating described it, is just way too little and way too late.
Mr. Rudd of course has given no indication that he offers the vision that many crave, but we forgive him this, because we hope, once Mr. Howard is eliminated, and the Liberal party enters its throes of self destruction, and the vicious conservative commentariat are no longer sucking on the teat of the Government spin machine, that there will be some free air for wider thinking and enlargement to take place without being shouted down.
In the meantime there will be no compromise on how far these leaders are willing to compromise themselves. We do understand that values will be jettisoned in the campaign, and that that is the price that must be paid. Because values were jettisoned long ago by Mr. Howard for the sake of self interest and marginal seat success, and fighting fire with fire seems to be working so far.
Will Mr. Rudd ease up on his control freak style once he gains the keys to the Lodge? Who knows? For the next four or so weeks however, many of us will be satisfied with supporting the removal of Mr. Howard. A noble quest indeed.