(both via Chris Sheil) I’m not sure whether calculated blindness is any less morally reprehensible than outright lying, but the revelation in this morning’s Oz that John Howard did lie outright about children overboard, rather than just being kept in “plausibly deniable” ignorance, is potentially very significant.
Moreover, as the Oz article observes:
The affair was a decisive factor in the November 10 election, with the Howard Government using the incident to stoke public anger against asylum-seekers and divide Labor over border protection policy.
Of course, most RWDBs will simply ignore it, while others will claim that “children overboard” wasn’t really all that crucial to Howard’s election victory anyway. Still others, and perhaps many of the electorate at large who even notice, will dismiss its significance on the basis that all politicians lie anyway* . But it seems to me that this (like Keating’s L-A-W law tax cut lie) is a quite crucial lie that goes to the heart of the integrity of the democratic system. Keating’s lie condemned Labor to justified political odium for several years. Howard’s might well have a similar effect on the Coalition, except that it’s less likely to be absorbed by the bulk of disengaged voters than failure to get a tax cut they were solemnly promised in return for their vote. Anyway, it certainly clinches my voting decision, whatever else happens between now and the election. This bastard must go. As Paul Sheehan observed in this morning’s SMH (though with a different spin): “Politics may be infinitely complex, but elections are decided for simple reasons.” This one should be decided on the basis that Howard is a lying, sleazy, divisive disgrace who should be terminated with extreme prejudice as a matter of basic hygeine.
* Oh, I almost forgot the other logical spin option for reality-denying RWDBs. Claim it’s the ex-staffer who’s lying and not Howard! Some goose in Chris Sheil’s comment box is already running that one. Will Tim Blair be far behind?
I also concur with Chris’s high assessment of this opinion piece on the Iraq war by arch-conservative poet Les Murray. Here’s the money quote:
Far better, perhaps to have got out when they caught Saddam. If, as we are told, the whole Islamic world is in the grip of a cultural civil war between Westernisers and harsh traditionalists, surely it is unwise for a sole infidel Great Power already hated for its success and alleged spiritual emptiness to feed energy to the very side it doesn’t like.
That’s not to say I agree with Murray. I still think it would be very unwise to get out at least until the first democratic elections are held and an elected government has taken the reins, and until basic training of Iraqi military and police is advanced enough for them to maintain a measure of security. Otherwise the West will just end up with a failed state in a strategically vital region, and be forced to go back in anyway. But with any sort of luck, withdrawal by mid 2005 should be very feasible.
Lastly, I was struck by the willingness of (arguably) Australia’s leading poet to end a sentence with a preposition when he didn’t need to do so. Was it for dramatic effect?