The Howard Years (Condensed)

A collection of useful words arranged in satisfying ways for the benefit of future historians. (Also beneficial when faced with drunken red-faced Howard-Huggers at Christmas parties over the next month who embarrass the host by rudely asserting that Mr. Howard was the best Prime Minister ever)

Malcolm Mackerras (Presciently written in June 07)

Future history books will note that John Howard was one of two Prime ministers (the other being Ben Chifley) whose governments were defeated as a consequence of abusing Senate power, one of two (the other being Stanley Bruce) to lose his own seat at the general election defeat and one of two (the other being Robert Menzies) to serve 10 years in the top job.


Mungo MacCallum in Crikey

John Howard led us on a voyage driven by greed and fear, into parochialism and paranoia, selfishness and racism, bigotry and corruption, and other dark places in the Australian psyche where we never should have gone. It was a mean and ugly trip, and it will take us all a long time to recover.

Paul Keating

The Liberal Party of John Howard, Philip Ruddock, Alexander Downer and Peter Costello is now a party of privilege and punishments. One that lacks that most basic of wellsprings: charity.

John Howard didn’t understand how great his opportunity was and how it could not be advanced by regressive and reactionary policies fuelled by social exclusion and division.

Peter Brent of Mumble

The putrid Howard brand of politics.

Possum Comitatus

The consequences of Howards reign over the Liberal Party are only now starting to be revealed as the protective shield of government has been stripped away, exposing a cancerous organisation bereft of direction, devoid of true leadership, and completely incapable of withstanding the rigours of opposition and political life without the levers of power to protect them.

Sean Carney

The man sucked his government and his party dry. He obviously had dedicated himself to keeping Peter Costello out of the prime ministership and ultimately he succeeded. During his leadership, the Liberals have managed to fall out of government in every state and territory. This is his legacy.

Tim Colebatch

In the Howard government, all decisions of any consequence were made by the leader. Ministers took the flak Helen Coonan in communications, Kevin Andrews wherever he went, Ian Campbell and Malcolm Turnbull in the environment but they were salesmen and advisers. The decisions were made by one man, and as he became surrounded by sycophants and mentally removed from real life Australia, the quality of government deteriorated.

Michael Costello

The [Howard] Government has been like someone who wins Tattslotto each and every day over a period of seven years and instead of investing for the future for themselves and their family, blows the lot on good times for themselves and their mates.

Tony Harris

The overwhelming mark of Howards government was the supremacy of pragmatism over principle, politics over morality.

John Quiggin

In the end, it was fitting both that Howard should attain great political success, and that his career should end in humiliating defeat. His ability deserved the one, and his misdeeds the other.

Glenn Milne

Howard has likely incinerated two generations of Liberal leadership on the bonfire of his own vanity.

Steve Biddulph

The big lie of Liberal supremacy was economic management. In fact, they knew how to generate income, but not how to spend it. We could have been building what Europe built in this past decade – superb hospitals, bullet trains, schools and training centres, low cost public transport of luxurious quality, magnificent public housing. We pissed it all away on tax giveaways and consumer goods. On bloated homes that we will not be able to cool or heat, or sell, and cars we won’t be able to afford to drive. A party based on self interest may evaporate along with our rivers and lakes, and have no role to play in a world where we co-operate or die.

Bob Ellis (okay completely over the top I agree but what the hey?)

He thrives, as a rule, on death

Rex (thats me miraculously included amongst the above exulted company)

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.

No doubt theres plenty more that Ive missed, let me know in comments. The Christmas party hosts of Australia are counting on you.

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Kevin Rennie
14 years ago

I represented YouDecide2007 as a citizen journalist at the Tallyroom on Saturday night. An amazing experience! During Howard’s concession speech I videod the people on the floor of the media centre watching him: Hefferan, Steve Price, Penny Wong, Sharon Burrows and many more. Still editing. First episode “The Poll That Counts No1: Around the booths” is on Youtube.

All will be posted to Youdedcide2007 and TeacherTube as well to get around the censors.
I will blog on ‘Labor View from Broome’ about the day and night in Canberra as I complete the videos.

trackback
14 years ago

Club Troppo

Roger Migently
14 years ago

It’s not surprising, I suppose, to watch the Liberals and their pre-election cheersquad and apologists retreat so hastily, so comprehensively, so “I never really supported it”, from Howard’s corrosive policies that on the day they supported so fiercely and whole-heartedly. Somewhat in the way that Downer said, “All year I never thought we could win, but you wouldn’t have expected me to say so,” or in other words, “I’m a liar and you know it.” I justwant to say to all those people who didn’t “really” agree with Howard but supported his policies anyway, “You cowardly bastards, for not standing up, for making us go through all that for so many years.”

patrickg
14 years ago

There’s some great lines there. And amazing how quickly Howard’s exalted mythmaking has dissolved into something else. Dancing on the grave? People are doing Riverdance on the corspe.

Rob
Rob
14 years ago

Enjoy your hatred. I’ll enjoy the thought of you choking to death on it.

haiku
haiku
14 years ago

no, Rob, we’re gloating. You’re choking.

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

Enjoy your hatred. Ill enjoy the thought of you choking to death on it.

Now that’s a pretty hateful comment. Wishing death on people who voted differently to you just because they’re enjoying the outcome. Whaddya are you, some kinda fanatical Stalinist? “The undesirable classes do not liquidate themselvess. Unless their funny kills ’em first ?”

But enough of this bitter and divisive partisanship. Let’s put the future behind us with a merry jape or two.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
John Howard
John Howard who?
Exactly

Rob
Rob
14 years ago

Hilarious.

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

Cheer up Rob.

Whack on a CD of Bill Furtwangler conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as they rock out on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

That should restore your faith in life if not humanity. Someone once described Ludwig’s Fifth as the first emotionally coherent attempt to define the existence, and perhaps the meaning too, of Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

And who doesn’t need to rethink their online DNA from time to time?

Even as I type this, I’m almost taking a vow of sobriety.

Rob
Rob
14 years ago

Not me. But thanks for the thought.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Allow me to repeat the only funny thing I’ve ever read by a RWDB:

bwhaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Gummo Trotsky
14 years ago

Whack on a CD of Bill Furtwangler conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as they rock out on Beethovens Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

There’s a notion – but I think I’ll go with No 9 in D Minor, followed by the Oscar Peterson Trio playing “Hymn to Freedom”. All together now:

Oh Freunde! Nicht Diese Toner …

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
14 years ago

Like all history-writing, the assessment of Howard will wax and wane according to how events play out from now on. Despite the unprecedented and corrosive bile of the Luvvies and Not Happy John (or what I call Not Happy Now and Never Will Be) crowd, this change of government occured with very little acrimony and bile within the wider community.

History will be relieved at Howard’s graciousness in defeat. Keating left the political atmosphere so poisonous in this country. With Howard, Costello, Vaile, and maybe even Downer so surgically zapped from the political culture, politics will be able to be performed pretty much on a clean slate. It is better that our debates reflect the here and now and the future, rather than feeding on old animosities. As a result, we (the country) will be able to get a lot more policy done during the next three years.

Like Fraser, Howard will be marked down for either wasting/abusing the Senate majority and for his bizarre waging of a war against trade unions that Hawke won in the 1980s. Similarly, his allowance of the slide in ministerial standards, and cynical refusal to allow public access to information will be rightly seen as a low-point. OTOH, it was precisely these qualities of the Keating government that saw the likes of Margo Kingston and Robert Manne vote for Howard against Keating in 1996.

Unlike our tawdry antedeluvian fourth estate and the blogosphere that basically follows the MSM, future historians will assess Howard’s “culture war” policies in the context of the post 9/11 world. Historians will despair that during this period the universities, the ABC, and Fairfax press ceded to News Ltd. the role of the country’s main agenda-setter of public debate from Aboriginal affairs, tax reform, abuses of DIMIA, the DPP, federal police, the Israel/Palestine conflict, freedom of information, etc.

Hopefully, a more sophisticated connection between similar cultural shake-ups throughout the rest of the Anglosphere and indeed Europe will shame the obsessively onanistic analyses of the Luvvies we have all had to endure over the past few years.

My take is that right up there will be Howard’s profound effect on ALP ideology and values, and the real New Class of Australian politics; “Howard’s Battlers.” that highlights just how close the two main parties are, and how remarkably cohesive Australian political values have been over the past generation.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

Some good points John, although I think this:

Despite the unprecedented and corrosive bile of the Luvvies and Not Happy John (or what I call Not Happy Now and Never Will Be) crowd

and this

Keating left the political atmosphere so poisonous in this country

and this

Hopefully, a more sophisticated connection between similar cultural shake-ups throughout the rest of the Anglosphere and indeed Europe will shame the obsessively onanistic analyses of the Luvvies we have all had to endure over the past few years.

cut both ways, and demonstrate that simplistic characterisations are never far from the surface despite our best intentions.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
14 years ago

Rex

It’s a blog comment, not a submission to Nature ;)

Nicki LaGrange
Nicki LaGrange
14 years ago

For the historians: from memory, I think it was The Daily Flute who suggested that the collective noun for a group of cowards was a “coalition”. Pretty spot on, given their behaviour, and the behaviour of their cheer squad, since the result.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

John

We should aspire to greatness. Even with our blog comments.

zap brannigan
zap brannigan
14 years ago

howard hating is an illness…

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
14 years ago

Howard-hating was/is perfectly rational if you are disposed to a particular political temperament. The fascinating spectacle will be where they direct that energy now.

Alphonse
Alphonse
14 years ago

I hate how he harnessed fear, jingoism and bigotry to amass votes. I hate what that did to the country. So do I hate the bloke? Well, yeah. What am I supposed to do? Congratulate him for being a clever dick? For going where no previous leader ever had the gall? Forgive him because he’s no less morally impoverished than anyone who can stomach him?

Note for Howard’s culture warriors: Bemoaning a lack of decency and scruples is a far cry from “political correctness”. The outstanding “cultural dietician” over the past decade is Howard. The diet: red meat for racists via dog whistle and actions that spoke louder than (conflicting) words. He did it ever so politely too, and he could rest assured that the inevitable criticism would unavoidably sound strident and intemperate so that he come over all offended and hurt.

Malcolm Frazer, Fred Chaney, Petro Georgiou, Malcolm Turnbull and, I hazard, even Peter Costello would probably agree with all of this. Not enough Libs did though, which helps explain their present predicament.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

Zap, I’m a hypochondriac you know. Any more of that talk and I’ll be off to the doctor. Bulk Billed of course!

Gummo Trotsky
14 years ago

These days, Australia’s foremost howard-hater would have to be Glen Milne:

The man who immortalised himself as “Lazarus with a triple bypass” has reached from just beyond the point of political extinction to achieve his ultimate personal aim; denying Peter Costello his chance to lead the Liberal Party.

Yes, it will be interesting to see how Milne redirects that energy now that what’s his name is gone.

marty
marty
14 years ago

It’ll probably drive Milne to drink…

FDB
FDB
14 years ago

Is zap brannigan just a bot that drops one-line pro-Howard (or at least anti-anti-Howard) comments on blogs?

So, zap-bot… got anything in the arsenal besides “if you disagree with me you’re sick”?

Rob
Rob
14 years ago

Great comment by JG at #13. Nothing to add.

cs
cs
14 years ago

“future historians will assess Howards …”

I’m always bemused by this sort of dogmatic pre-emptive lobbying, which predicts the history of the present in a predicted future. Attempting to shape present views in the light of an imagined future’s imagination of the past, which happens to be the present, is an impressive appeal to Clio’s authority, and supplies a refuge for the die-hard ideologue. I especially love these sort of statements when you get around to actually studying history, and you go back and read what the present lobbied you about in advance. The study of the history of the present’s view on the future’s view of its own history is a book on my “too write” list. Apart from that, I’m delighted to see that conservatives are accommodating so well to the change of government. Future historians will no doubt assess this as a praisworthy factor in their accounts of the long, peaceful, prosperous period of wall-to-wall Labor that commenced in 2007, which they will commonly all come to refer to as the Golden Age in Australian history.

zap brannigan
zap brannigan
14 years ago

let me bring some rational debate to this intellectual wasteland…

howard will be remembered as the greatest politician we have ever seen because what he achieved was considered impossible.
it should have been impossible to win 4 elections on the trot with such a hostile and intemperate media constantly slandering and smearing the great man to the point of psychotic neurotic dependency.(i just made that up)

it has become apparent that the sole reason of living for so many of the fairfax harpies and ABC luvvies is to act out their sick fantasies and channel all their frustrations and hatreds towards one entity…..if anything went wrong in their lives just blame john and janet.
in this sense howard has become the enema of the left destined to expunge all manner of intemperate thought….a convenient whipping boy for their sad lives.

and so it goes for the media fed fools who inhabit this fetid swamp who seek to demean the great man’s achievements.
no labour government will ever have to fight against such overwhelming odds with the constant background noise from the chattering class eating away at the social fabric.

haiku
haiku
14 years ago

That’s irony, right, zap?

Anyway, subscription required so no link, but Friday’s AFR contained an article by Pamela Williams which should be required reading for anyone reflecting on the election result. We have dodged a bullet by about 1.7% TPP.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

i just made that up

No. You’re kidding?

patrickg
14 years ago

The greatest politician we have ever seen? Oh dear, Zap, surely even the most ardent coalition rah-rah boy would have trouble with that one?

You haven’t really left yourself anywhere to go, have you? I mean, if Howard’s the greatest, it’s all downhill from here, right?

Incidentally, strictly for entertainment purposes, of course, could you please some of the things that would make Howard the greatest, that he actually did?

If you can get to six you get a metaphorical lollipop. Not counted is anything connected with “presiding/reigning/miraculously making the best/most profitable/fun times economy,” for which the blame is tangential at best.

My question is, in eleven years, what did he actually do, that these historians will presumably champion over previous PMs like Chifley, Curtin, hell even Menzies?

TimT
14 years ago

The same question dogged Menzies, I think, Patrick. In ‘The Lucky Country’, Donald Horne – evidently fonder of the juicy scandals he was to get, as a journalist, under Whitlam – dismissed Menzies rather glibly as a prime minister who would not be remembered for anything in particular. And I would guess that, like Howard, Menzies and his cohorts always championed stable economic management over all else.

Conservative governments often seem to do this: they champion their economic management credentials, and rightly so, because economic management is one of the most important jobs politicians have. (We are affected in the most fundamental ways by the economy of the state or nation we live in.) But it usually creates the illusion that those conservative governments are concerned solely with the economy, or, more particularly, with money; and so they become open to the criticism that they are not concerned with people’s happiness, only with the satisfaction of personal greed.

You’re right, of course. Howard probably won’t be remembered as the best politician of his generation, though in five or ten years time people will be much more disposed to look kindly on him, I think.

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

I disagree with Zap. Howard wasn’t just the greatest politican we have ever seen but also a towering colussus of a statesman and a figure of truly interplanetary statue, revered on the cold plains of Mars, worshipped on the baking landscapes of Venus and praised in the howling methane canyons of Uranus.

Seriously Zap, mate, you gotta let go of this hatred of people who don’t worship Howard. It’ll just eat you up from the inside and you’ll end up like Rob, hollow, inarticulate and bitter, or even worse like that crazed little mouth-breather, John Greenfield, obessively turning minor skirmishs where he obtained a slight flesh wound on the buttocks into crucial battles that turned the tide against Sauron’s hordes.

Also, anyone that bangs on about a left-wing MSM has clearly never noticed the steadily growing ratio of advertising to editorial content.

In the long run I think, that like Menzies, Howard will be really be remembered mainly for his eyebrows.

Cap’n Quiggan’s got a nice political obituary of him here where I added my two cents worth.

I also think it’s amusing that Howard, a cricket tragic, currently has two key stats on his record. 2nd longest serving PM and 2nd sitting PM to lose his seat. There’s some sorta zen nutshell summary of his career in that.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

“Aren’t you the bloke who-”

“That’s me thank you very much. Second longest serving Prime Minister of Australia. Four terms. I brought in the Goods and Services Tax.”

zap brannigan
zap brannigan
14 years ago

gentles all,
verily i thank you for your kind counsel and will ruminate upon your collective wisdom.
but one must understand that i am still in a state of shock after such a calamitous campaign ending in an ignominious defeat and hence i deserve some latitude in my musings.

last saturday was the blackest of black days for the enlightened side of politics
as a whole generation of liberal leaders were put to the sword, their rotting corpses heaped into piles and the toxic stench chocking the throats of all liberal supporters…and their bones will be buried in an unworthy urn, tombless with no remembrance over them.

as i watched the pride of the liberal party being wiped out it felt like a hot dagger was thrust into my chest and the still beating orb torn from my bosom and cast asunder.
as our mighty leader was vanquished by an ABC wench a black pool opened at my feet, i dived in…there was no bottom.
when i came to it seemed the whole world had changed…i was a stranger in a stranger land, the peasants were talking an undecipherable language…the earth had been knocked off its axis.

but though we seem but dead do not be mislead for we will regroup and mount a challenge to your arrogance…

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

last saturday was the blackest of black days for the enlightened side of politics
as a whole generation of liberal leaders were put to the sword, their rotting corpses heaped into piles and the toxic stench chocking the throats of all liberal supportersand their bones will be buried in an unworthy urn, tombless with no remembrance over them.

Ooh, I love it when you talk dirty.

when i came to it seemed the whole world had changed

Look on the bright side. You’ll still be able to wake up the next morning with birds singing and the sun stealing into the room, knock the head off a morning glory and enjoy a good crap with rest of us.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
14 years ago

Nabakov

like that crazed little mouth-breather, John Greenfield, obessively turning minor skirmishs where he obtained a slight flesh wound on the buttocks into crucial battles that turned the tide against Saurons hordes.

On obsessions, flesh wounds and such I gladly leave the battlefield to you and your fellow Warriors. Now, if we can get back to the topic…

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

“Now, if we can get back to the topic”

The one you derailed yet again with your “obsessively onanistic analyses of the Luvvies”?