Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Today’s Newspoll has been most perplexing. We learn that J. Howard and his cronies have mysteriously endeared themselves to the punters such that 45% of them would vote for the Coalition compared to just 35% for the ALP. Were this to be an election result the ALP would be shedding seats and Simon Crean would be replaced by well ….anything really. More curiously yet, 36 per cent of the selfsame punters believe the Howard Government knowingly misled them over the war on Iraq, 31 per cent believe they were unknowingly misled and 25 per cent believe they were not misled at all. Mr Howard has also maintained a lead of 40 percentage points over Simon Crean as the preferred prime minister – but there’s not much mystery in that as Kim Beazley would no doubt be quick to point out.

So what’s going on?

Only last night, the increasingly eccentric Richard Butler was railing away about Howard’s perfidy on Richard Glover’s ABC Radio show. ‘We know Saddam had WMD” he cried, “we know that UNSCOM was unable to account for them all, and we need to know what happened to them.”

When Glover gently pointed out that, give or take a bit of Niger’s finest yellowcake, that was kind of a bit like what Howard et al were saying, wasnt it, Butler exploded. “It’s not the same thing at all, etc.” If Newspoll had asked whether Richard Butler displayed all the consistency of a self-medicating, neurasthenic butterfly the results might have been interesting, but I digress.

The ABC’s The World Today assembled a group of intellectuals and Hugh Mackay to discuss the Newspoll outcome this afternoon and the mood was very despondent. All were agreed that this outcome was ‘unexpected,’ ‘not predictable’ and yes! ‘Perplexing.’ Perhaps the voters were so turned off by politicians they were saying a plague on both your houses? Right. Gone that golden age when the Australian electorate loved pollies like their Mums. When exactly was that time again?

Hugh didn’t disappoint with his observation. Howard has sapped our will and hooked us all on insubstantial ‘image.’ I chuckled merrily. Hugh used to say that Howard was a boring little suburban lawyer with a closed and not very capacious mind. Suddenly he’s the all-powerful Lord of the Universe. So much for Hugh’s ability to pick ’em.

Unless someone can come up with incontrovertible proof that Saddam was actually engaged on an elaborate subterfuge to conceal the fact that he was working on a remix of “We are the world, we are the children” with Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and Oprah Winfrey – all proceeds to charity – it may be time to drop the whole reasons for war non-event. If any Australian voter ever believed that the reasons for war rested on Niger uranium and 45 minutes to Armageddon I’d be very surprised, and probably more perplexed than Hugh.

Maybe the voters are suggesting that they get over it and get on with it.

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Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Geoff,

Another fantastic post. The best, most clear-thinking (and one of the funniest) post on the whole Iraq/WMD fiasco I’ve read in a long time. You and Chris seem to be spurring each other on to ever greater heights of sublime blogging. Or is it just that I’m so shellshocked from the complete administrative chaos here at the hairdressing college that I’ve lost all judgment and proportion, seeing anything even vaguely competent as a masterpiece? The latest disaster here at NTU/CDU is that my brand new $10,000 Apple web server is lost somewhere on campus, and no-one can find it even though it was delivered and signed off by someone down in Stores 5 days ago. No problem. It’s just the central piece of equipment we’re using to deliver lectures to more than 80 students (I don’t know how many though, because the data entry for enrolments is an even larger disaster). Aaagh!!! Oh, and the entire Learnline system containing all teaching materials has crashed, so we can’t load any lecture notes, tutorials etc either. I think I’ll just go home and do some serious damage to a couple of bottles of red wine. Maybe I’ll do some Sam Ward-style creative blogging later in the night.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I thought Sam Ward’s unchained (and totally out of it) melody was a powerful Australian Story. I told him we should bung the whole thing in the National Museum of Australia.

wen
wen
2022 years ago

MacKay has also suggested that Australians are just too self-involved to really care….

uurgh!

homer Paxton
homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Geoff,
To use the jargon the Australian public are not engaged at present.
All right they know that Howard lied about Iraq and kiddies overboard. They don’t care…YET.

At some stage something will blow up and suddenly all those punters will remember with pentup frustration all of his past problems.
This has happened with most of our leaders.Indeed it has happened to Howard just before Tampa.
I don’t know when this will happened but it will because he won’t retire.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Newspoll indicates that most people don’t feel that they were wilfully misled about Iraq Homer.
That’s kind of the point.

slatts
slatts
2022 years ago

Jeez Ken, has the hairdressing college been recruiting from RMIT?

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

“assembled a group of intellectuals and Hugh Mackay..”

An elegent insult Geoff, very classy!

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Fair go Scott. Not ALL ‘intellectuals’ are that bad. They may be getting the term a bad name; but a few of them still really do deserve the term in a non pejorative sense.

mark
2022 years ago

slatts, I’d hope that’s not what RMIT’s level of computing competence is!

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Geoff

Yes, a sharp and entertaining piece, and I don’t necessarily disagree with this bit following, but with what I think is an important qualifier:

… it may be time to drop the whole reasons for war non-event. If any Australian voter ever believed that the reasons for war rested on Niger uranium and 45 minutes to Armageddon I’d be very surprised, and probably more perplexed than Hugh … Maybe the voters are suggesting that they get over it and get on with it.

As I said, that might be the right political call. But ‘political’ is the key word. For the mythical educated citizen, or at least this mythically educated citizen, the politics of wmd-gate is really only a side-line, and perhaps a side-line loaded in potentially equal parts with tragedy and just desserts. The real interest in wmd-gate from my perspective does not at all depend on what an opinion poll says, anymore than opinion polls have any influence on my interest in Rugby or Elvis. Personally, I want to know what the true story is … and bugger everybody else for that matter. Polls are for politicians, which I’m not, mercifully. So while they may be well advised to move on … I’m staying on the case.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Polls are OK when they appear to support your case, though, Chris, as in your privatisation post, I guess.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Polls can be interesting and useful when you are trying to figure out what people in general think, Ron, but are not worth the paper they’re written on when you’re trying to figure out what you yourself think.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

Anti-war bloggers (like Tim Dunlop, Rob Schaap etc and to an extent yourself) seem mostly to have decided fairly conclusively what they think about Iraq and Bush/Blair/Howard’s part in the leadup to it. They don’t seem to be engaged so much in working out what they think (as you say you’re doing) as in an exercise in advocacy, to attempt to persuade the “silent majority” that they should embrace the view that Bush/Blair/Howard lied and/or that Iraq shouldn’t have been invaded/liberated. In that context, the state of public opinion polls is obviously relevant. They suggest that, at least so far, the continuing obsessive propaganda focus of the ABC, BBC, SMH etc on the issue has had no apparent effect on public opinion about the war, nor on support for incumbent governments in all three countries.

If public opinion shifts over time, it will not be because people come to accept the left’s view about these things, but because the US botches the rebuilding of Iraq and/or gets sucked into a quagmire of guerilla warfare from which there is no easy exit strategy. Unless that occurs (and there are certainly signs of it), the left’s ongoing discussion of Niger uranium, the failings or otherwise of intelligence agencies etc will be mostly an internal monologue that the vast majority will (rightly) ignore as irrelevant.

The only aspect that has any contemporary relevance is what ONA’s apparent failure to tell Howard about the doubts over the Niger uranium story tells us about the extent of the politicisation of defence and intelligence (to the extent that this point hadn’t already been made clear by the Children Overboard affair). Of course, as far as I can see, most people are fairly indifferent over this aspect as well. Thus, Geoff’s point (I think) was that there’s little point in the left-leaning parts of the media continuing with a revolving tape loop coverage of these issues. I doubt that there’s anything fresh or newsworthy to uncover (unless that suicided British weapons inspector left behind some juicy proof that they really DID “sex up” the dossier). Moreover, as I say, people aren’t going to change their minds unless the situation in Iraq goes badly wrong. It is indeed time to move on.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken,

I have no wish to argue with you or Geoff in relation to politics and the mainstream media, or to join with you over what will or will not determine the course of public opinion into the future, but that changes my own interest in the subject not a jot. The Iraq war was an extraordinary event in my mind, not least because it was a so-called ‘pre-emptive war’, but also because it seems to me that it may well have been waged for reasons quite separate to those that were trundled out in public. As I have remarked over at Surfdom, just as the causes of the First World War remains the most puzzled over question in all modern history, among those interested in the Iraq topic, the questions and debate will continue well into the future, regardless of the flux of public opinion and whatever extent that politicians and the mainstream media moves on. For those who are positively uninterested, I suggest that they stop reading about it, move on, and let the rest of us keep right on puzzling and questioning in peace.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Ken’s pretty much encapsulated my position and I responded to your comment on RTS, Chris. Of course I’ve no desire to constrain debate, but as a point of pragmatic politics, the issue has done it’s dash. That’s not to say that aftermath scenarios and/or unexpected revelations might not factor in nor that the whole issue won’t continue to evolve in an historical context sense.

In an immediate sense, continued debate looks set to become increasingly esoteric, set-piece and mainstream-detached as time goes by – and the ALP isn’t going to win in 2004 by playing to the Niger yellowcake and 45 minute warning gallery.

Gianna
2022 years ago

So basically…it doesn’t matter what reasons our leader gave for going to war with Iraq, because in the end, the war was justified because “Saddam’s a bad guy”. For god’s sake, why didn’t they just sell the war with that, then? Why all the earnest pre-war speeches about all the various ‘legitimate’ and ‘legal’ reasons?
I am finding this all very surreal, especially when apparently intelligent people seem to be content to let Howard get away with it–yet again. I mean, what does this man have to do to get thrown out of office? Where’s Monica Lewinsky when you need her?

The man is the Houdini of politics, is he not.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Geoff,

you are missing the point that people have cottoned onto the fact that Howard is loose with the truth.
Just ask any Lib or ALP machineman. It is coming up in the focus groups.

They don’t care at present because:
1) the election is far away and they don’t really want to thibk about it. ( Let them read blogsites all day I say).
2) the straw hasn’t broken the camel’s back yet. We don’t know when this will happen or why this will happen but given all that howard knows is politics and he has more than a touch of the Keatings at present it will.

If I was part of the ALP campaign team I would be quite pleased that Howard and truth is seen as two different things. It is another reason why I think the next election will be closer than most think.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Thnaks Geoff, but having said that I have no wish to argue about the political side of it, I now want to go into reverse and say that I do have reservations about your prognosis … and will suggest that Jack Howard is not quite the Houdini of politics Gianna despairs of, yet.

It seems to me that the political pressure over Iraq-gate is falling primarily on Blair, followed by Bush, followed by Howard least of all. I think this follows from the unique Blair facts that he 1) is working under the most severe accountability system of the three and 2) is a Labor leader and has a major and I imagine now permanent split on his own side. To this, we now add a coronial inquiry that could threaten to open right up into the political-intel nexus. Frankly, I think it’s pretty much an even money bet as to whether Blair will make it to Christmas.

And if Blair goes, it will send a tidal wave across the Atlantic, where Bush is also under growing pressure because of 1) at the end of the day, a very strong serious US press (much stronger than Australia’s) and 2) more divisions on his own side of politics … not near as many as Blair, but decidedly more than Howard. The nightmare scenario for the GOP is Bush getting hit by a Blair tidal wave and meanwhile not being able to get stories about his soldiers being killed in Iraq off the front pages. If he gets collected from both sides, he will be in major political trouble … a scenario that will put his second term in jeopardy, and will certainly sink him if, as seems increasingly probable, the US economy also undergoes a major adjustment to correct its gaping imbalances.

OK, there are many ifs and buts in this scenario, but none of them are entirely fanciful and thus there is still a realistic possibility that the political outcome of the war may unfold in a reverse domino effect … in which case the last domino will not go down in history as Houdini. And in which case, this will also become one of the biggest stories in political history. In short, I think the Fat Lady is still out to a very long lunch on this one, and won’t be coming back for throat clearing exercises any time soon.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Homer, the ‘news’ would surely be if political focus groups came up with a pollie who wasn’t thought to be loose with the truth. I can’t think of a single politician in my lifetime that could carry that sobriquet.

Gianna – if Monica Lewinsky worked for John Howard he’d encourage her into finding a nice young chap from the Young Libs with whom she could develop a warm, mutually respectful relationship with a view to marriage. He’d probably be able to do them a cheap conveyancing deal on their first home owner purchase in a subdivision near Penrith. He’d also counsel her that thongs are things one wears on one’s feet in Liberal Party circles – and only at the beach or in the backyard.

Bronwyn Bishop is more likely to be found having a Lewinskyesque moment than Howard is.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Bronwyn Bishop … !!! That’s one of the sickest thoughts ever committed to a blog.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

Your horror scenario for Blair/Bush/Howard is, I suppose, not completely impossible, but I doubt it’s all that likely either. In the absence of major revelations flowing from the David Kelly suicide, I really can’t see Blair being rolled before the end of the year as you suggest.

As for Bush, I think it’s unlikely that Iraq will turn into a Vietnam in the very short term, at least by the measure of numbers of American servicemen killed. It took some years of accumulated deaths in Vietnam for it to become a major political factor, and I would expect the same process would need to occur here. I doubt it will occur before the 2004 Presidential election. Of course, major ongoing economic woes might conceivable combine with a modest ongoing death toll in Iraq to cause public disenchantment with Bush, and hence a political trajectory not unlike his father’s. I have no idea of the probability of ongoing bad economic news; John Quiggin’s views should be interesting, especially given that he’s over there as we speak.

Even if Bush were to lose the 2004 election (or rather look like doing so), that won’t necessarily impact Howard’s electoral chances. Howard very wisely refused to commit Australian troops to an ongoing peacekeeping role in Iraq, so he isn’t going to suffer that problem, and I doubt the Australian electorate will punish him for involving Australian troops in a war two years ago that involved zero casualties. Even on the economic front, Howard doesn’t face the combination of factors that Bush does, although obviously ongoing slow growth in the US isn’t a positive thing for Australia’s economy (or the rest of the world).

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken,

There is much room here for speculation. The weakest part of your scenario, I think, is the Vietnam comparision. I don’t think that the US deaths have to go up very far at all before the issue dynamites popular support over there. There was one occasion quite recently … was it Rwanda? … when, as I recall, a public humiliation of US soldiers sent the entire nation berko and led to a prompt withdrawal. Moreover, even in the end of Vietnam, there was still a lot of support in the US for the cause (anti-communism) … the decisive factor being that the US couldn’t win. In this case, if the rationale is undermined via Blair and the Iraqi’s pull a few big TV moments on the soldiers, there is a fair chance that the whole thing will become explosive domestically, IMHO. It will come down in the public mind to concern for innocent US soldiers versus concern for innocent Iraqi civilians, and I believe I know which way that vote will fall.

As for Howard, you’re obviously on much stronger ground here. Nonethless, we still have 1000 personnel in Iraq … plus we have forces in Timor, will soon have forces in the Solomons, and have forces training on how to pirate Korean ships … so there are a lot of military fronts, all of which contain risks that may well keep the war alive as an issue. But I think you’re probably right in this regard, and Howard’s main risk is if Iraq-gate blows (via Blair, with a Bush flow-on), the issue may morph into a wider credibility problem, joining Children Overboard, never-ever, non-core, waterfront conspiracy and so on.

As Homer suggests, I think the credibility problem is already in play for Howard. Despite what Geoff says (which I agree with in the case of grown-ups), there are a lot of ordinary folk out there who actually do believe everything their favoured politicians say. Actually, there are a lot of university students out there who are exactly the same … as I constantly notice how disconcerting it is to them when I cite a few real life examples of how politics actually operates in one of my classes. If Howard loses traction on his credibility at this level … well, there are still a lot of imponderables, not least the ALP’s apparently limitless capacity to go backwards. So I guess, my only conclusion at this stage is that politics is a pretty wild place at the natinal-international juncture and I reckon it’s going to stay that way for a long time yet… and it will be fascinating, and hopefuly not scary, watching it play out.

And whatever you think about anything else, Geoff deserves to suffer very badly for that Bronwyn comment …

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

I think the incident you have in mind with a US serviceman being humiliated was the “Blackhawk Down” fiasco in Mogadishu, Somalia. However, one respect in which I think the American psyche has changed decisively since then is in the willingness of the American public to accept at least a moderate casualty level. That’s because they now know/believe that the alternative might be sustaining another September 11 at home. I don’t expect Americans to return to the sort of extreme risk averson that applied at the time of the Somalia involvement. Hence I don’t think continuing military casualties in Iraq at roughly the present levels is likely in isolation to be a terminal political problem for Bush (although, as I conceded, it could conceivably combine with other factors).

BTW I just heard on the news that the Americans claim to have killed both Uday and Qussay Hussein after a tip-off. If correct, I suspect that begins to substantially reduce the prospects of a large-scale ongoing highly organised Vietcong-style guerilla campaign. I doubt that remaining Baathists are likely to command anything remotely like the popular support the Vietcong enjoyed. These guys were murderous thugs, and Iraqis know it and mostly hate them. It doesn’t mean they like Americans particularly, despite having been freed by them, and a prolonged stalled rebuilding/normalisation/democratisation campaign could eventually create popular support for violent resistance to the American occupation. However, I doubt that this sort of sentiment is going to crystallise and become sufficiently manifest to endanger Bush before November 2004.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken,

Does not your first point only hold if the link with s11 also holds, which Iraq-gate may (or may not) unravel?

Your second point conceals a theory, which is that Saddam and his Baathists are inherently discretionary, and therefore their removal substantially prepares the path to peace. The alternative theory is that they were at root a logical product of their context. This is, in short, the Great Man vs Conditions argument about the causes of history.

While I would concede that a great deal of gratuitous brutality appears to have been integral to the regime, and is therefore likely to dissappear with the leading actors, I also imagine I’ve been massively conditioned by allied propoganda. In the US particularly, war propaganda operates according to a hackneyed formula that seeks to convince each and every citizen that the US is fighting an individual Hitler once more, during every single war. Did you, perchance, see Dateline tonight? It featured a disturbing glimpse into the manufacturing of the US propoganda (the CIA worked through the Iraqi ex-pat nationalists, who worked through a private firm, who contracted the work to people who knew explicitly that they were literally on propaganda duties and who included the Australian journo who was killed, who was also paid by the ABC, which represented him as independent!). How much about Saddam et al as the cause of all trouble do we discount to these processes? 10 percent, 25 per cent, 60 percent?

More substantively, I’m as yet unconvinced that the intractability of a peaceful Iraq has been or can be overcome. Phillip Knightley, who has researched the UK archives to write his biography of Lawrence of Arabia, wrote a short (and extremely influential) article about Iraq’s history that continually works to undermine my ability to believe any of this is going to ever be easy (the article is here).

In short, I would maintain that there is still an enormous amount here that is still well and truly in political play … and the final outcome, I suspect, is not going to be anything we can safely imagine at this moment.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

I must admit to being bemused by the line of reasoning expressed here by some. I don’t recall, for instance, anyone arguing that Australians are not interested in the in and outs of Aboriginal history and therefore Keith Windschuttle should just shut up. I’m also puzzled by the ongoing habit of characterising all anti-war sentiment as “leftist” when it very clearly wasn’t and isn’t, and of characterising all attempts to simply find out the truth of the reason we were given before the war as partisan when the two main protagonists, Blair and Bush, come from different sides of the very political spectrum that is invoked to dismiss the concerns that are being raised.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Tim,

I don’t think either Geoff or I (or anyone else on the comment thread that I can recall) was suggesting that anyone must “just shut up”. Obviously some obsessors will keep talking about it, as is their right, and in a wider sense historians will continue to try to make sense of the detail, and argue about causation.

What we were exploring was the reasons why the issue hasn’t bitten with the general public, as well as suggesting that it isn’t very likely to do so on present indications. That’s a perfectly legitimate phenomenon to explore on a political blog, because if an issue is treated as irrelevant by the great bulk of the public it ceases to be a political issue. Some might decry the public as lacking the insight of their betters, but I think they’ve just decided (correctly) that we already know enough to conclude that there was a bit of gilding of the lilly (but not outright lying about Niger uranium etc), a bit of faulty evaluation of intelligence and miscommunication (i.e. the usual cockups that happen in government on a daily basis) and a bit of wishful thinking, but nevertheless that the war was justified and had a successful outcome at modest cost in casualties. Those who opposed the war (and who still do) can talk about it incessantly until they’re blue in the face trying to persuade people to view the situation differently, but somehow I can’t see them succeeding. Moreover, it isn’t because they lack their betters’ penetrating insight, but because most people have simply reached a different and more benign conclusion about the war from available information.

Of course, if the speculations Chris and I were engaging in towards the end of the thread come to pass, the washup from Iraq could yet end up becoming a major factor in future elections. No doubt that’s why opposition parties and media interests sympathetic to them or unsympathetic to existing regimes (not to mention similarly-minded bloggers) are desperately trying to fan the dying embers and keep the issue alive in the public mind. They have every right to do so, just as people like Geoff and I have every right to observe and comment on the whole phenomenon.

BTW I’m being a bit cheeky in rhetorically purporting to speak for Geoff, but I’m sure he’ll speak up if he disagrees.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

“It is indeed time to move on” doesn’t sound like an invitation to further debate, nor does “the failings or otherwise of intelligence agencies etc will be mostly an internal monologue that the vast majority will (rightly) ignore as irrelevant.” But I stand corrected. I guess I’ll just keep obsessing! Be interested in your comments on the rest of what I noted.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Tim,

I guess your perception is correct, at least to the extent that I would confess to sometimes WISHING (but certainly not demanding) that you’d leave Iraq alone for a while and go on to something a bit different. That’s not because I don’t think the issue is important, or even because I completely disagree with you: there are lots of points on which I agree with you 100%. It’s just that, to my taste at least, it’s all getting a bit repetitive and tedious, and I’m looking forward to getting more of those prodigious Tim Dunlop analytical and research talents writing more on some of the many burning issues that exist in the world apart from Iraq and its wash-up.

On the other hand, I know you won’t in fact desist from obsessing about Iraq, because it’s not in your stubborn, dogged nature to do so. Moreover, it’s that nature itself that is also your strength and, in any event, part of me would actually be disappointed if you did desist!!

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Geoff,
firstly I forgot to congratulate you on the article. Stenous apologies.

My point is at some point they will stop listening to Howard because he has a reputation.

It happened to Fraser in 82, Hawke in 91, Keating in 93 and Howard in 2000. Howard had his miracle in tampa however but it is still there lurking and given Howard will never retire it will happen to him again.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

I agree Homer. Geoff’s reply really goes to the curious Australian paradox, wherein we all believe as an article of faith that our politicians deliberately lie all the time, but find it very difficult to accept that such mendaciousness occurs in any particular instance. I’ve made some observations above, but this really goes to my earlier posts about why “We can’t handle the truth” (here and here). Like you, I feel the issue is now in play, and if the line is crossed and a consensus admits that the PM may well be an inveterate and not unintentional liar, well … it’s good night Charlie.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I don’t know that we accept that our pollies lie all the time as an article of faith. I think it’s more a general, shoulder-shrugging acceptance of the nature of politics – an economy of truth here, a spin there, a worst possible light over here, a rip-out from context over there, etc. I think the electorate is almost as alert for inveterate lying – and averse to it – as it is to arrogant hubris a la Kennett and Keating.

The lies that Howard is constantly accused of – Tampa, Kids overboard – seem to fall in the nature of politics category rather than inveterate lying, as far as the electorate is concerned . So, importantly, does the continuing shrilling about them from Howard’s opponents – ‘they would say that, it’s politics,” seems to be the general reaction. At the end of the day, a culture of adversarial politics is an insecure platform upon which to construct a moral high ground.

Take the Immigration rorts ‘scandal’. No-one in the federal parliamentary labor party believes that Ruddock was copping bribes from Dante/Kirswani. The aim of Julia Gillard’s campaign was simply to shovel enough shit in order to create an ineradicable odour. The problem for the ALP is that no-one else much seems to see Ruddock as a brown-bagger either – whatever else they might think of him. On the other hand, when Nick Bolkus was caught flogging 10 grand’s worth of non-existent raffle tickets to the same shady parties, and lamely claimed that it was all a stuff up by the South Australia branch, (who couldn’t quite put their finger on the raffle in question either), we all thought that it sounded about right. But Bolkus’ ‘sin’ fits the shoulder-shrugging acceptance category also.

There’s a kind of cynical, world weariness about it all. I don’t think people are incapable of distinguishing truth from fiction. On the contrary…..the ability to put the whole thing into context is quite impressive.

mark
2022 years ago

“an economy of truth here, a spin there, a worst possible light over here, a rip-out from context over there…” a non-core promise in the other room…

Ahem.

I read somewhere that these days the public (esp the “irreverant, anti-authoritarian” Aussies) prides itself on being cynical and street-smart and possessive of $deity-knows what other fashionable attitudes. That means that the politician who lies the most usually wins: we all just assume they’re both lying, and split the difference. With compromise occurring in the middle, if PA tells an outrageous lie that would get the voters leaning far-left if they believed it, and PB tells a “little white lie” that would lead to the moderate right position being favoured, then most of them will assume the moderate left position is true. This is known as the “Why Bush Will Win the Next Election” doctrine, so you might be excused for ignoring it for the moment.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I think it’s probably a bit more convoluted than that Mark, though I don’t disagree with your ‘split the difference’ scenario. I note Craig Emerson being reported on ABC Radio this morning saying that the ALP will oppose on principle all Workplace Relations legislation introduced by Abbott because, “nothing he would be likely to introduce would ever be supportable.” Not many options for Joe and Josephine Punter in that scenario really….

homer Paxton
homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Upon reflection it occured to me that the two biggest apologists for the government in Blogland ie the bunyip and ABCwatch would vote yes to being misled if you are to believe their sites.

Indeed it is hard to think of any pro-war blogger who would vote no going by the contributions!!

Patrick
2022 years ago

I suppose it comes down to which Media you believed in the first place. As someone who got my Pro-War analysis from Blogs like USS Clueless, Nigerian Uranium never appeared, it was all about reformation of the middle east and giving America a base to pressure Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. With that background, relevations about Nigeria are meaningless noise.

A relevation that large Texas oil companies got exclusive rights to Iraqi oil for the next decade would be relevant, but there’s been no sign of that yet.

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