Gladys’ “unerring, Dunning-Kruger infused, self-belief and self-regard”

Here’s a (lightly edited) exchange between me and a friend who, I’m going to assume would prefer to remain nameless. If they want to change this, they will let me know and I will change it.

The exchange should be read downwards — with the first email you encounter below being the first email I received.

This is your regular update from clown world


Hard an interesting exchange on Twitter with Stephen Mayne on the same subject

The question it raises: What does Gladys represent that the political class has intuited it needs to defend ?

niceness. [reflecting my own view that a kind of unflappable pleasantness is the most prized possession in Australian public life, considered to be far more important than domain knowledge, ability, charm. Unflappable niceness is a very secure route to steady promotion as a ‘good operator’ and blended with a little apparent savviness, let alone the capacity to be ‘strategic’ and pretty soon you’re on your way to an AC. By the same token the greatest liability is being particular about things. It just slows you down , makes you difficult to deal with, and on things that people just can’t fathom — and for what?]

More than that…

For some reason this venal, rudely partisan and somewhat incompetent person has been elevated as the standard bearer of the Australian political class (“the woman who saved Australia”, “Australia’s most powerful person” etc).

I think it’s because her key power was her unerring, Dunning-Kruger infused, self-belief and self-regard – she just kept going.

So I think the message she sent to the Australian political class was: “don’t dwell on the fact you do not measure up to the moment! Instead just treat the world as if it is no more complex than you can handle. Just keep going and you will not be judged. Our power may be fading, but I have shown you how a kind of political perpetual motion can defeat electoral gravity”.

Yet here she is felled by a reflex motion of our dying accountability culture.

And like the children they have become, the political class cannot integrate at an emotional level what it means to be subject to an adult system of accountability.


This entry was posted in Cultural Critique, Political theory, Politics - national. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Gladys’ “unerring, Dunning-Kruger infused, self-belief and self-regard”

  1. ianl says:

    I’ve always thought that ng and myself could not agree on how to breathe, let alone anything with some ambuguity to it.

    Yet this time, he’s partially hit a target. It’s been evident for decades that “niceness” is the star quality in winning 50+% of the female vote. If one is perceived as “nice”, then one can espouse anything at all, even holding CO2 as a pollutant.

    Excluding “niceness”, Gladys is a very sneaky lefty (of the ilk I truly despise) but at the end leavened by an increasing impatience with the smothering nanny state. Who now will put Chant (another evocation of “nice”) back in her box ?

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    I haven’t noticed the women are more susceptible to the fog blanket of niceness. It’s certainly not what I was thinking as I wrote that.

    And one of the reasons I expect we’d have trouble agreeing on much is that you seem to drag everything into an ideological view. I don’t much go for the ideological view (you know that we should go the Venus option on our atmosphere), but even if it was very different, it wouldn’t be the dominant lens through which I’d think about Australian culture and the ways Australians relate to one another and their world.

  3. Jerry Roberts says:

    Thanks for this interesting personal view, Nicholas. Perth is even further from Sydney than usual but I think you and your friend are on to something with the “niceness” comment. Anodyne is a word I was thinking of in relation to contemporary politicians. I had to look up Dunning-Kruger. I don’t think gender is a factor. Surely the bottom line is that Gladys had to go. I thought she should have gone with the original revelation.

  4. Harry Clarke says:

    She was a strong and effective leader and sexist waffle about her “niceness” doesn’t change that. References to Dunning-Kruger are a sneaky attempt at unwarranted character assassination, using tired psychobabble, by those who simply have an prejudiced ideological disposition.

    • Saupreiss says:

      + 1

      Berejiklian has single-handedly changed the narrative on covid in AU under extremely challenging conditions that include the misogynist and racist attacks in MSM and social media and even in press conferences. Can anyone imagine Andrew Clennell acting out the same rude way towards a male white premier? (I guess we see soon.) Berejiklian deserves credit for having shown AU the way out of the pathetic zero-covid narrative.

      As to her stepping down, yes, of course she had to. It was clear from the point when she had to admit about her secret relationship that Maguire dud. I am pretty sure she knows that ICAC has enough against her, otherwise why also step down from her parliamentary seat?

  5. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Waffle it may have been. ‘Sexist’ it wasn’t from me. I made no link with her gender on the point and none was in my mind. When I was writing and thinking of the quality of niceness, or pleasant unflappability that gets you all the way to the top in Australia (I’m thinking particularly of bureaucracies of the government, private, university and NGO kind more than politics, but Gladys demonstrated its deployment in politics) I was thinking of a number of men, who will remain nameless.

    Fortunately Harry, at least as far as I’ve observed, neither of us suffer from this malady.

  6. Alex Coram says:

    Berejiklian’s qualities seem to pretty those described in your e-mail and I worry about the reference point when she is described as outstanding. I also find the argument that ICAC is wrong for investigating issues of public trust and at a time that is inconvenient because she is nice worrying. Not only is it a formal fallacy (non sequitur for you Nick). It is just weird.

  7. paul frijters says:

    I have not followed this saga much and have no inside information, but I do have to say that I suspect Gladys’ demise is due to information leaked by insiders close to her. I have talked this over with other corruption scholars in Oz and they too think the reason they got rid of her was not that she did something corrupt, but because she was not corrupt enough. More generally, Australian politics is now so thoroughly corrupt that if one of them is found guilty of corruption, it should probably be seen as a sign of having lost an internal political struggle.
    Whist I appreciate Andreas’ point that relative to Victorian politicians, Gladys has been a beacon of sanity and restraint when it comes to covid, I think it important for the future to judge her policies from a more longer-term notion of what is good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.