The Labor victory is so emphatic that it makes a mockery of the conservative vanity that somehow they were more attuned to the pulse of the nation. Yesterday Mr. Howard turned from political sharpshooter with an uncanny sense of the electorates mood to Elmer Fudd taking an unsteady potshot at a waskally wabbit.
I had the pleasure of observing the Howard capitulation and the Rudd ascendency at a Labor Party electorate gathering here in Melbourne. The mood was, as you would expect ebullient. As Mr. Howard gave his last hurrah, and entrusted the keys to Kevin 07, there was (aside from many middle digits raised to the big screen), a grudging respect, especially in his acceptance of responsibility for defeat. But still, even in this final bow, the habitual pettiness poked through briefly as he struggled to acknowledge his replacement as Liberal Party leader, Peter Costello.
In truth I cant blame him for that because Mr. Costello has proved himself over the last eleven years to be the most loudmouthed cocksure gutless wonder ever to walk the Australian political stage. Mr. Costello will be just as loudmouth and cocksure as Opposition leader, and just as piss-weak as he ever was in government. The sooner the Liberals discard him for someone with a heart (like Malcolm Turnbull) the better for them, and the better for us all.
The mood for change has been in the electorate for years and I would argue that it has been there since before the 2004 election. Mark Lathams effort deferred the inevitable. Ever since the last election the pressure has been building. The pendulum had swung way beyond its natural limits, and the movement could only be one way. Toward restoring equilibrium.
All that is not to diminish in any way the achievement of Machine Rudd, and especially its obsessive, driven, leader. Yesterday in his victory speech Mr. Rudd gave a foretaste of what his staffers and the Labor cabinet can expect. Hes allowed them just enough time to have a cup of tea and an Iced Vo-Vo before they get to work. Its a sure thing that Mr. Rudds expectations of his staff and Ministers in the years ahead will be extraordinary. Probably brutal. I for one, am glad I will be safely out of the way in the far less demanding world of private enterprise. My only concern is that Mr. Rudd at the same time can demonstrate that he does have a heart, and that he can deliver a bit of soul along with his Key Performance Indicators.
But back to the repudiation thing that I started with. There will be many claims as to why Mr. Howard lost. The union movement will claim that it was Workchoices. The Greens will claim that it was stupid dumb stubbornness on Climate Change, Others will claim that Mr. Howards manipulations on Iraq and Asylum seekers were finally acknowledged, or the ugliness of the self-serving culture wars exposed. Personally Id like to think of it as a repudiation of the appalling political bias of our print media especially of The Australian, who caved at the last and editorialised in favour of Mr. Rudd in a transparent attempt to save their reputation for journalistic impartiality, and to ingratiate themselves with the new leader. (Props to the Herald Sun by the way for eschewing sycophancy and for being open about the c**ts that they are. And as for The Age, well The Poll Bludger said it. Ptuh). I also fancy it as a repudiation of the whole RWDB thing which these days is reduced to getting its jollies and scoring political points through supposedly amusing variations on the spelling of Global Warming. But hey, that last bit’s just my jag.
The truth though is that it isnt any one of these things. Its all of them. To a greater or lesser extent all of these things have built up over the last eleven years to the point where the majority of Australians couldnt lake it anymore. It was indeed time. And Mr. Rudd and his team harnessed that emotion and gave the people confidence that it was a safe bet.
The Liberal years have been no triumph. The Libs have just been lucky. They were lucky that the economic times were good to them, and they were lucky that the events unfolding during their tenure suited their bigoted nature. Yesterday their luck ran out.