Memories

One of the things that most struck me about John Howard’s campaign launch last week was his invocation of a speech Menzies made in 1942. The “forgotten people” speech was so long ago that it would have no resonance for any who aren’t political junkies, and even there I suspect most of us have forgotten what Menzies actually said, if we ever knew.

John Howard also gave a long interview to Laura Tingle of the Fin Review early last week. The media generally really only picked up on his claim that it didn’t matter so much if he’d spent his way right up to the edge of the 1% budget deficit target, because Treasury forecasts are usually wrong.

But reading the entire text, I thought it was very significant for what it indicated about the headspace Howard is in. He talked about campaign launches in the era of the public meeting – in the Canterbury Town Hall back in the 60s. He defended his decision not to stand down in favour of Costello by pointing to the timing of Menzies’ announcement and the dimensions of Harold Holt’s win in 1966. State aid was tossed into the mix too. None of this was prompted by Tingle – it all came spontaneously to Howard.

Howard was thinking of events which occurred when he was a young man, and even earlier events which had shaped the politics of the early to mid 60s, when he first became involved politically. I don’t want to dwell on his age, but there’s an interesting point here – I’m well aware that as I grow older (and Howard has had almost three decades longer on the planet than I have) that at significant moments of change, you do tend to go backwards in time and relive the conditions which put you on a particular path. I think that you do that when you’re about to change direction, or something is coming to an end.

My strong suspicion is that Howard knows his time as PM is over, has accepted that he will almost certainly lose the election (and would be tossed out quickly by his own party even if he hung on), and that’s why his head is seemingly moving around in a space defined not by the politics of the future but by an Australia of four, five or six decades ago. I think his odd confessions just before the campaign began when talking about reconciliation were a pointer as well.

None of this, of course, is helpful to him politically, but I don’t make these observations in a particularly partisan spirit. If anything, it humanises him for me. But I do think there’s a strong suggestion in many of his recent remarks that he himself knows his time has come and gone.

Cross-posted at PollieGraph.

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Posted in federal election '07, Howardia, life
86 comments on “Memories
  1. phil says:

    But they suited him.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this for some time from the POV that every time Howard mentions one of these past battles most folks who weren’t around or have put it all behind them just think “WTF! This guy only looks to the past”.

    It’s been happening for a couple of years now but more pronounced lately.

    BTW, this post should also apply to all the Howard lovers in the media and blogospheric commentariat, many of their references and narratives apply to the same ground Howard likes to cover.

    Unions boo! Look a postmodernist boo! Teh left boo!

    Unfortunately for them the world and nation has moved on.

    Me? I’m looking forward to multiple organisms (one for each marginal and minister to fall) on the 24th.

  3. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    I tend to agree Mark, although it is very very difficult to feel for him. He is what he is in the way that the scorpion in the La Fontaine fable of The Scorpion and the Frog is the definitive scorpion – he just can’t help himself, so there is a temptation to allow him bit of justice on some sort of determinist level… but, ah, no. Next thing you will have me feeling compassionate for Eric Abetz.

    I said as much in a blog somewhere that Howard was now (shiftily) looking for a place in history in that out-of-character attempt at reconcilliation with the Aboriginal peoples. Suddenly, like a man with a terminal illness seeking absolution, he wants legitimacy: to be seen in the continuum of Australian Prime Ministers, a living portrait on the wall in the Great Hall of life of Oz. Sorry, John, too little, too late.

    Howard’s much overlong tenure has not left us with any sort of legacy to look back except as a taste of ashes in the mouth*. Nothing. Or to paraphrase the Fugs, less than nothing.

    ___
    * The end is finally here
    God have mercy
    Now we’ve rewritten history
    The one thing we’ve found out
    Sweet taste of vindication
    It turns to ashes in your mouth

  4. mbahnisch says:

    Yep, a multi-organismic night will be in order!

    Sir Henry, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the bloke – but I’m finally getting some sense of him as a human being. Of course, many human beings aren’t likeable but I do feel just a little bit for the bugger.

  5. […] Cross-posted at LP in Exile. […]

  6. joe2 says:

    “Of course, many human beings aren’t likeable but I do feel just a little bit for the bugger.”

    Spin may working on you, Mark, while you are not feeling well.

    I do not doubt that Howard would go for a zimmer-frame, if it helped him get over the line, in the last week. Sympathy for the ol’ bloke does not work for me, given what he has done to Australia over the last ten years.

  7. CK says:

    “My strong suspicion is that Howard knows his time as PM is over, has accepted that he will almost certainly lose the election (and will be tossed out quickly by his own party even if he hung on), and that’s why his head is seemingly moving around in a space defined not by the politics of the future but by an Australia of four, five or six decades ago.”

    Mark, that’s where his head’s always been. His entire tenure – as I’m sure you have pointed out elsewhere – has been a right-wing post-modernist project about trying to re-create 21C Australia in terms of the country of the ’40s and ’50s.

    I don’t think we need to go much past the Kulture Kampf: Whether it’s aboriginals, education defined as 3Rs and Howardian History, or bloody-minded appeals to Muslims Under The Bed.

    But of course he’s actually always been a dangerous radical while posing as the proverbial Safe Pair of Hands – especially in the area of industrial relations: “You know what I stand for….” We know. We know. We know. ‘Whatever you want me to be’ (and how po-mo is that?).

    Dare we go beyond the dogs on the wharf and the law that dare not speak it’s name? While posing as the SPOH he’s been quite happy to tear up the nation’s social contract and scatter it to the four winds.

    And higher ed is yet another blight. Menzies recognised the value of universities and built the system. Howard’s policy has been designed around neglect, insufficient funding, Kulture Kampf, and no eye to the nation’s long-term future.

    Heresy I know, but I actually hope that Turnbull holds Wentworth. If the ALP wins next week, we’ll still need an effective opposition to ensure the new government is kept on its toes.

    I reckon Turnbull’s the best chance to re-make the the Liberal Party into a party of the centre instead of the extremist rabble they’ve become.

    Apart from that, grease the tumbrills!

  8. mbahnisch says:

    Mark, that’s where his head’s always been.

    CK, yes, agreed, but he’s had the savvy to disguise it up until recently.

  9. I think Radio National had a podcast dealing with Menzies Forgotten people speech. I think it contained excerpts. Possibly Lingua Franca.

  10. jinmaro says:

    Howard’s unrelenting, immovable pitilessness says it all for me.

    I can’t think of one word, one action, one basic human expression or transaction or personal exchange that he’s performed, as PM, ever, that’s showed he has the slightest sympathy, empathy, caritas, sense of decency or fairness towards human beings, the greater social good, or least of all those most in need of support. Nor can I see that he’s ever demonstrated he’s cared about anything other than himself and that in which he has invested legitimacy. Which is, to be technical and abstract: rampant capitalism and the hegemony of US-led imperialism and the people and institutions these embody.

    He’s human yes, but monstrous. He doesn’t deserve and won’t get forgiveness or forgetfulness, not from many of us – ever. Let history record well the deeds and legacy of this wilfully cruel man who refused to listen to the sobbing of the weak.

  11. Enemy Combatant says:

    Stimulating thoughts Mark, Sir Scorpion, and CK. Made me search deep within for even a skerrick of compassion for JWH. I found none. In the end, JWH chose to exercise and cling to raw power at the expense of his humanity. Like Faust, Howard made his choice and is going to have to live with the consequences.

    Just can’t get the taste of Tampa and SIEV-X out of my mouth. These were my brothers and sisters.

  12. pablo says:

    I didn’t read the AFR interview but here’s wondering if JH is awash with short and long term memory loss, the former sometimes being a precursor of dementia. Voting him out from the Lodge/Kirribilli and Bennelong will probably prove therapeutic. It will enable him to reconnect with his landmarks of an earlier era…the Bexley bowzer station, the house at Wollstonecraft…

  13. CK says:

    Hey, Worst of Perth, don’t know whether you got my email, but your site’s fantastic. You should head up to Freo way and see the true abomination that is the Curtin bronze. Not quite a statue scratching its arse, but close enough…

  14. zoot says:

    I’m with EC. I feel as much compassion for Ratty as he showed to the people rescued by the Tampa, the indigenous population of the NT, David Hicks, Dr Haneef et al ad nauseum.
    The man should be strung up.

  15. mbahnisch says:

    I don’t think my meaning has been taken – I’m not expressing compassion.

  16. CK says:

    “I didn’t read the AFR interview but here’s wondering if JH is awash with short and long term memory loss, the former sometimes being a precursor of dementia. Voting him out from the Lodge/Kirribilli and Bennelong will probably prove therapeutic.”

    Well I guess nothing is a foregone conclusion, but I hope he has enough foresight to hire a decent speechwriter and not turn into the blubbering messes that were Fraser and Keating.

    No. Fuck it. I want “I’ve always thought the electorate are mugs. I’m driving into the future with your taxpayer-funded eternal parliamentary super” blubbering nonsense speech.

  17. gummotrotsky says:

    Nietzchean compassion for John Howard is quite appropriate – I’m quite prepared to pity the bugger.

    What I don’t got is any empathy for him.

  18. mbahnisch says:

    He’s human yes, but monstrous. He doesn’t deserve and won’t get forgiveness or forgetfulness, not from many of us – ever. Let history record well the deeds and legacy of this wilfully cruel man who refused to listen to the sobbing of the weak.

    As I said, I don’t think that his personal situation is the main thrust of the post, and indeed I wasn’t writing about his inner life in detail, because I have no way of knowing about it – just what the surface manifestations show about his own appreciation of his impending political mortality, and for that matter, I suspect a sense of regret that he didn’t leave earlier when he had the chance last year (not that I think this would have represented his “legacy” in a more positive light except insofar as it plays into the blame game in the Liberal party).

    Having said that, there are some interesting sentiments being expressed. I don’t think that forgiveness is necessarily an issue – it hasn’t and won’t be sought, and forgiveness is a meaningless gesture unless there’s contrition and the desire for amendment (as those who are familiar with the Catholic ritual of reconciliation will no doubt appreciate – but I’m sure humanists get the point). But, again, I don’t see why it would be somehow outside the box to feel some sympathy with the bastard – if you espouse a view that all human beings are worthy of respect and dignity and compassion, then I think you should do so consistently. Hating others has never seemed to me to be a valuable emotion in any way whatsoever. Just sayin…

  19. Ambigulous says:

    Her Majesty’s Vessel Menzies
    Orders of the day: Monday 19th November

    Ship’s Parson advises Evensong at 8 bells sharp.

    Ship’s Cat despatched upwards of 16 rodents last week.

    Midshipman Abbott has Mislaid his Gaff Hook.

    Capt. Howard’s Official Party will come aboard tonight under cover of darkness but not from Point Bennelong. No lights to be shown.

    Although the voyage ends Sat next, Quartermaster takes dim view of recent souveniring of cutlery; must cease forthwith.

    Officers forbidden to carve names, initials in mahogany bar or oaken panels.

    All crew to prepare ceremonial uniforms for Sat 24th.

    Whomsoever inscribed “Ship of Fools (? Tools??) on bowsprit must atone. Lt Ruddock opines script poor and indistinct: suspicion falls first on illiterates; wide ambit.

    This morn Midshipman Abbott 30 minutes late to arrive at ritual of Penance and Cleansing. Delayed with Quartermaster, suggestion that tardiness avoidable is balderdash. Midshipman took exception to Ship’s Choir singing “Nearer My God To Thee”. Also he failed to understand why junior sailors expected Pennants as nothing to celebrate this morn.

    Midshipman Abbott enquired with Ship’s Doctor might he assist with medical work; Doctor would rather walk plank.

    Sail to West on morrow, fair land of gold mines, diamonds, doubloons and good cheer; away from all dispiriting urban penury.

    Onward and upward, men!

  20. lazyaussie says:

    CK, re:
    “Hey, Worst of Perth, don’t know whether you got my email, but your site’s fantastic.”

    Hey, thanks for the praise. I have got some comments from you, but I don’t think I’ve got an email. There’s a John Curtin statue right? I don’t want to clog up Larvatus with our conversation, so I will try and extract your email address from your comments.

  21. Muskiemp says:

    Mark, seeing as Howard is never to be trusted,ever. If I was to forgive him I would always be looking behind, as I would fear he would stab me in the back. I too had a Catholic upbringing and believe that to heal one must forgive. Howard is not the same.I may one day in the future forgive him, when the truth is told of his years in government. For now I cannot forgive what he has made of my Australia.

  22. adam says:

    i am truly sorry for john howard, because i am sorry that he could never know the beauty of real love. even his marriage a flag of political convenience, it appears.

    sad. a waste in the end. now add all those other lives damaged or destroyed in his pitiful wake. truly awful.

    so i am sorry for us all. but i hope that on saturday evening, rain bursts to clean our streets, and that on sunday the sun is shining, without a cloud in the sky.

  23. mbahnisch says:

    Muskiemp, as I said, I have no intention of even thinking about forgiving him unless he asks for it. What I’m talking about is understanding that he’s a human being. That doesn’t mean that I have to like him. But I try not to hate people.

  24. SJ says:

    Mark Says: “But, again, I don’t see why it would be somehow outside the box to feel some sympathy with the bastard – if you espouse a view that all human beings are worthy of respect and dignity and compassion, then I think you should do so consistently.”

    Well, sure, one might feel some sympathy for the convicted murderer, and ask that his life be spared so that he may instead live out his life in a prison cell.

    Howard is no special case, here. He deserves the presumption of innocence, but a trial is required nonetheless.

  25. mbahnisch says:

    Oh sure, SJ, understanding doesn’t preclude a desire that responsibility be taken.

  26. CK says:

    “There’s a John Curtin statue right?”

    Yes WOP, I’m afraid there is. Fremantle Town Hall. Truly appalling that an ‘artist’ was given public funds for this abomination.

    Sorry for cross post.

  27. Paul Burns says:

    I try to see Howard from 2 points of view -my personal point of view and as an historian, trying to be objective.
    Either way he comes out of it as the most evil prime minister this country has ever had, leading the most evil government we have ever had.Short of Rudd repealing the bulk of Howard’s legislative legacy immediately he comes to office, it is going to take this country decades to recover from what he has done to our country. My cry is not for Howard, it is for what he has done to Australia.
    Poor fella my country.

  28. CK says:

    “As I said, I don’t think that his personal situation is the main thrust of the post…”

    Gummo, you’ve missed the point. The election is now all about the legacy…

  29. mbahnisch says:

    Here’s yours truly with the Curtin statue in Fremantle in October 05:

  30. mbahnisch says:

    Hmm, bad temporary blog. Doesn’t do photo embedding in comments.

    Try this link:

  31. gandhi says:

    It’s hard to avoid the feeling that Howard is already gone, isn’t it? It’s hard not to start thinking post-Howard.

    It’s a bit like when we finally qualified for the World Cup – people had been disappointed so many times, we were afraid to hope until the final whistle blew!

    I think such thoughts are not just wishful thinking, but also a sign of where this dull campaign is heading: Howard has no momentum whatsoever. I’m expecting the Coalition to implode this week, big-time.

    The talk of Menzies reflects not only Howard’s resignation to fate, and his obsession with history, but also his narcissism. It is not for him to make such comparisons, but for others.

    jinmaro’s #10 post says what many feel, and no doubt there will be much similar venting over the next week or two. It’s all good.

  32. gandhi says:

    Re the World Cup analogy, dare I say it: Rudd is 2 goals up with only ten minutes left on the clock…!

    🙂

  33. mbahnisch says:

    It’s hard to avoid the feeling that Howard is already gone, isn’t it? It’s hard not to start thinking post-Howard.

    Even Howard’s acting as if the election is, I think. No more big spend, just little tiny wedges like “no social security for druggies!” and their backdrop is morphing schizophrenically from “go for growth” into a read background with “the world will end if Labor is elected” slogans.

    I reckon it’s been over since Rudd’s campaign launch.

  34. mick says:

    Slightly OT but Rudd pretty much called “TeH druggies are bad” plan for the crap that it is,

    “I’ll have a look at it. I always think these things should be treated on their merit,” he said.

    “But I go back to the core proposition: if you’re serious about a plan for the nation’s future, then if you’ve been in office for 11 years, what is it that causes Mr Howard to conclude that these plans could be taken seriously, when they’re suddenly put out there, with only a few days to go?”

    from the ABC. [link]

  35. mbahnisch says:

    Well, he’s spot on there. It’s a pointless little micro-wedge.

  36. Andrew E says:

    Here is a man who’s trying the same things he’s always tried, and they’re not working. Howard was always happy to talk about the future so long as his past was potent enough to carry him through. Now, he’s out of momentum, and all those things he draws on (e.g. Menzies’ homes physical and spiritual) simply no longer resonate.

    He made the comment months ago that he had no rabbits left in the hat, but only now has the truth of this sunk in. Besides, it’s a tired image: think about it, when was the last time you actually saw this trick performed? For me, it’s thirty years at least. In my lifetime, top hats existed solely for the purpose for magicians to pull hidden rabbits from: in an age of digital imagery it’s hard to be impressed by that trick, le alone rely on it as a metaphor.

    The world’s moved on, and he overestimated his ability to move with it while being able to draw on those features of the world that shaped him. Reminds me of that scene from ‘Macbeth’ on the night before he gets killed, after he’s just been told that Lady Macbeth has died.

  37. mick says:

    I wonder what Howard’s retirement plans entale? Board member for BHP? Writing op-eds for News Limited?

    I also wonder whether his staffers have already started looking for their next jobs?

  38. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion he might stay on the backbench if he wins Wentworth. I doubt that he’s got much of a world outside politics, and I don’t think he’d make any money from the lecture circuit, boards or consultancy or memoirs because not much would be on offer. He might end up as a Billy Hughes or a Ted Heath or an Arthur Caldwell – a ghostly revenant on the furthest of the far back benches.

  39. Andrew E says:

    Bennelong, surely?

    I’m not sure he could cope with being utterly ignored with no hope for redemption whatsoever. None of those examples would inspire him.

    Besides, Bennelong voters can see that, and it’s a factor in the anti-Liberal swing that doesn’t exist in other seats (not even in Berowra, where Philip Ruddock is even less likely to want to go through opposition again, he has something of a life outside politics, and bugger the AWA with the electors).

  40. mbahnisch says:

    I don’t know – he might imagine that he’d still be a player. Wanting to wield power is very important to him, I suspect. He’d have none if he walked away from it all.

    I’m totally convinced Labor will win the election, but not so much that McKew will win Bennelong.

  41. Andrew E says:

    Yes it is – but this is a guy who witnessed how McMahon embarrassed himself by staying a decade longer than he should have. Downer tried to tell him once, he may well do so again – and that interview suggests he’d listen this time. No Xmas@Kirribilli will have a sobering effect on Jeanette.

    People love John Howard or they hate him, but he won’t stand to be a laughing stock. Keating tried to stick him with that pantomime of It’s Worse THan We Thought And It’s All Your Fault after 1983 – back then the Liberal Party rallied behind him, unlikely to happen today.

  42. mbahnisch says:

    One of the most significant aspects of this election has been the way he has already become a laughing stock, Andrew E. Just look at how his “walks” have been reported. Far from making him appear vigorous, as they’re meant to, he’s become a moving target for ridicule. You don’t laugh at someone you’re scared of. It’s a sign of how much power has already slipped away from him.

    As for Dolly, he’ll be off on his quixotic quest to become SA Premier. He’s already started – debating state transport ministers…

    I can’t imagine John and Jeanette getting too many callers at Woolstonecraft. If they’re lucky, the Mad Monk might drop in once a year around Easter.

    Hawke and PJK, no matter how many enemies they had, had strong friendships outside politics. I’ve never read of Howard having any (mind you, I haven’t read either of the biographies). It’s just a hunch – he might think his life will be more meaningful hanging on to the last trappings of political influence. It would at least give him some real leverage over the fight to lead the Libs and the fight over his legacy.

    Not saying that’s what he’d do, just a feeling.

  43. Howard’s place in history will be as one of the best Prime Ministers Australia has had.

    The most resounding endorsement of his stewardship is that if his government is defeated next week, it will be by someone who fetl their only chance of winning was to campaign on the promise of using John Howard’s policies.

    Though he has had little life outside politics to date, post politics he will be very marketable. Not corrupt, and not having sold out the Australian people for money (no $500,000 p.a “for services rendered” window seat job with a merchant bank for John Howard) and his marketable value, probably lecturing/speaking will be high enough to eclipse his parliamentary salary/super.

    His first cash offer will come much sooner than as a job-for-the-boys in (say) 11 years time when his own party defeats his successor.

    Sympathy for him? Not likely.
    Empathy? Impossible, I have not experienced being PM.
    Hatred? There once was, but it has passed.
    Joy at his downfall? Waste of time. More likely an emptiness, for he has risen too high, been too successful as PM, and over 40 years exhibited too little ego/arrogance to give a hoot what happens on Saturday. Just a moment of reflection when I read his obituary, knowing that Australia has just become a better place.

  44. mbahnisch says:

    The most resounding endorsement of his stewardship is that if his government is defeated next week, it will be by someone who fetl their only chance of winning was to campaign on the promise of using John Howard’s policies

    By the same token, steve, Howard running on the promise of using Keating’s policies would demonstrate that Paul was one of the best PMs Australia has had. Which, of course, he was. But you get the point.

    It also occurs to me that if he’s seeking some sort of redemption (and that’s the sense I got from the reconciliation speech), staying around as Member for Bennelong would be a promise kept. I also doubt he’d want to hand the seat to Maxine on a platter in a by-election.

  45. Paul Burns says:

    One can only feel unbearably sad when you realize how Howard has ruined our country. And will Rudd get us Australia back?
    I den’t know.
    As for Howard’s future? McKew may very well win in Bennelong, if only because the voters there won’t want to go through a by-election.
    Costello definitely won’t want him on the back bench. He wouldn’t want the bastard there ready to stab him in the back.

  46. mbahnisch says:

    I actually think Costello is more likely to quit Parliament than Howard, Paul.

  47. Paul Burns says:

    Yes, Mark, that could be so.Costello does lack that iron in the soul. And if Turnbull does win in Wentworth – which I think he will – it’ll be very close but he’ll manage it – he could end up leader. And that will not augur well for the ALP, I fear.

  48. Paul Burns says:

    Just a thought on Howard’s latest nasty little trope of cutting convicted drug users off benefits. Given Howard’s determination to destroy the welfare state, expressed in his campaign launch policy speech, is this code for an attempt to cut off long term disability pensioners otherwise protected under the grandfather clause who suffer from hepatitis C?
    (Not among my collection of illnesses by the way.)

  49. CK says:

    “Costello definitely won’t want him on the back bench.”

    Errr, Tip won’t be hanging around in Higgins for 5 seconds longer than necessary, let alone becoming Leader of HM’s Loyal Opposition.

    He always was a gutless wonder. Couldn’t go two rounds with Winnie the Pooh.

  50. […] CK sums Costello up over at LP in exile: He always was a gutless wonder. Couldn’t go two rounds with Winnie the Pooh. […]

  51. Sharon says:

    I have always condsidered Mr Howard a retrograde Prime Minister, I neither like him, respect him, hate him, or pity him and I do not have to forgive, but I no longer fear him and his cabinet for I am sure he will not be here after the 24th. If in understanding the man helps to ensure such a person is never eleted as Prime Minister in the future than I guess all the post analysis will be worthwhile. I have campaigned against Howard through the last two elections with the Democrats I was one of the thousands who walked against the war in Iraq, I have gone out into the community, I have virtually given up most of my personal time to campainge againt the Howard Govt. After the 24th I will be able to turn my television back on, with some luck, I will no longer feel anger with what I see and hear, I will rediscover housework, cooking and most important of all I will rediscover my children, the future is looking good for me. Sharon Neill (No.2 Senate Ticket Qld Democrats)

  52. Katz says:

    Howard’s place in history will be as one of the best Prime Ministers Australia has had.

    Jeff Kennett may be a useful parallel. During his political life, especially during his accident-prone tenure as Leader of the Opposition, Kennett was widely reviled.

    And when he instituted swingeing changes in the governance of Victoria he was hated with a passion by a large minority of the population.

    And when he lost the unloseable election (an accurate designation if there ever was one) to Bracks, he became a laughing stock.

    Now he has reinvented his public persona and has given himself permission to display his human, vulnerable side. There are many who once hated him who now accord Kennett a degree of respect.

    There are many now who also concede that Kennett’s reforms were necessary for Victoria to recover from a long period of economic and governmental sclerosis.

    What about Howard?

    The GST was a revolution in public administration. It has captured areas of economic activity that were before its institution beyond the reach of the ATO. Australian governments are now swimming in revenue. This is deeply ironic because the doctrinaire Howardistas imagine, when they gaze upon their hero, that they are looking at a free marketeer. In fact Howard has captured through the GST more of the market than any other Prime Minister.

    WorkChoices was a constitutional and juridical revolution. The High Court decision allowing the use of the Corporation powers has massively increased the power of the Federal Government. Is this what Howardistas wanted?

    The WorkChoices legislation itself is unlikely to survive the first Rudd government. But doubtless there are Labor dirigistes right now licking their lips at the prospect of using the Corporations powers for some meddling purpose. Thanks Johnny!

    Howard was incapable of unwinding the Whitlam revolution. You lose Johnny!

    Howard’s foreign policy was demeaning in its execution, but it did not represent much of a change from Hawkes’. Probably a Labor government would not have committed ground troops into Iraq, but we would have had some token frigates loafing around the Persian Gulf. Not much change there.

    Howardistas failed to take control of the big cultural institutions. Howard’s culture war shock troops are blubbering into their Manhattans as I tap away here.

    Howard insulted and demeaned many minority groups. But he failed to provoke any serious social dissension. Now I have the exquisite pleasure of watching Howard kiss Chinese babies in an attempt to keep his promise to serve the good folk of Bennelong as an opposition backbencher for the next three years.

    Yet people say there is no god!

    Will Howard be another Kennett? I think not. Kennett took shackles off Victorians. Howard ladened Australia with shackles.

  53. Ambigulous says:

    CK

    What makes you credit Co$tello with going TWO rounds with Winnie the Pooh? One round max, I’d say. Then throws in towel and stomps off blaming Trotskyites and Socialist Forum. Harrumphs around a bit, tosses out jibes at Wayne Swan. Exits to resume legal career.

    Meanwhile Viscount Turnbull is found a much safer seat, a by-election is engineered; but he has to endure years as HM loyal Leader of Opposition, facing (inter alia) Mr Newhouse, MP and Ms McKew, MP across the chamber.

    Arthur Calwell certainly was a wan ghost in the chamber while Gough worked away at cleaning out the dictatorial ‘socialist’ holders of power in the Victorian Branch of ALP, building policies, finding allies….. all the spade work that finished in a victory (but not a landslide) in 1972. And Gough had a relatively weak opponent in PM “Billy” McMahon, a man whose authority ebbed away palpably during 1972; and McMahon was undermined by President Nixon & Henry Kissinger when Kissinger’s secret visit to old Mao in Peking became public. There’s an example of American priorities: opening up dialogue with Communist China was more important than helping save a Liberal/Country Party govt in Canberra.

    Would George Bush invade Iran IN ORDER TO SAVE PM Howard? Piffle!!

  54. David Rubie says:

    I wonder whether Howard will, like that other great culture warrior (B.A. Santamaria) turn back after the election and reassess his lifes work as a failure. I’d certainly like to think so. It gives me great pleasure to imagine the mendacious little troll trying to count his achievements and coming up empty handed, in a slow and tortured set of revelations.

    It won’t happen though – mendacity is unfortunately a self deceiving state that permits no admittance of error.

  55. Paul Burns says:

    On the perhaps dubious assumption that reporters on Sydney’s Daily Telegraph have some privilidged acess to the Liberal Party, it would appear that the implosion has started, against Abbott, and especially Turnbull. May the fuse splutter and burn and explode around Thursday in time for the nightly news.

  56. gandhi says:

    it would appear that the implosion has started, against Abbott, and especially Turnbull.

    Damn right – Glenn Milne today blamed Abbott for the loss! My take on it here:

    http://howardout.blogspot.com/2007/11/implosion-week-day-one-glenn-milne.html

  57. FDB says:

    Mark – “I reckon it’s been over since Rudd’s campaign launch.”

    Me too. Did anyone else notice a striking similarity between the footage of Whitlam, Hawke and Keating at the launch and the final scene of Return of the Jedi, where the ghostly images of Yoda (Whitlam), Obi-Wan (Hawke) and Anakin (Keating) appear and smile radiantly down on the Ewok village (Brisbane) in celebration at the death of the Emperor (ummm…)?

    My lady friend did, and I laughed so hard some wee came out.

  58. nasking says:

    “Just a thought on Howard’s latest nasty little trope of cutting convicted drug users off benefits.”

    Probably just getting in practise to cover for Bill O’Reilly of Fox News when he & Janette head off to their beloved America, post election loss. Good way to avoid the Senate investigations & other probes into his connections and decision-making processes.

    Once he earns some quick pocket money doing the O’Reilly gig he can then take off with buddy GW Bush to Paraguay…yep, Latin America of all places:

    http://wonkette.com/politics/george-w.-bush/we-hate-to-bring-up-the-nazis-but-they-fled-to-south-america-too-208549.php

    But the way things are going, they might be better off heading to France. I bet President Sarkosy will be willing to put them up…his place must seem a bit empty these days.

    Or would that be too close to The Hague for comfort. Guess there’s always Saudi Arabia…or Dubai…or Japan…or the Phillipines…or…

  59. Mindy says:

    Aboriginal reconciliation seems to have been dropped like a hot brick since announcing it didn’t have the desired effect. I’ve seen nothing on it since and was only reminded of it because of a comment above.

  60. derrida derider says:

    A fine post, Katz, though I think you’re being too kind to Jeff Kennett’s government, which had more than its share of failures and was far too close to business cronies.

    Howard’s psychological limitations means he won’t even be able to see himself as a success in his own terms – and I think he’s already realising that. That won’t stop future conservative hagiography, though, in the same way Whitlam’s failures are now glossed over by the left.

  61. gandhi says:

    The infighting has begun!

    Glenn Milne today blames Abbott for the looming loss, while Mal Turnbull desperate denies “anonymous” rumors about his leadership ambitions.

    But Turnbull himself recently leaked that he advised Howard to sign Kyoto. And now Peter Debnam says Australia should have signed Kyoto long ago!

    Who’s got yer back, Mal? Pencil Pete in for a Shadow Cabinet post, mate.

  62. Katz says:

    Thanks DD.

    I’m not expressing a personal opinion about Kennett. I’m trying to articulate what others, who were Kennett haters, have said in reconsideration of his administration of Victoria.

  63. silkworm says:

    “John Howard has exchanged letters five times with the Exclusive Brethren since 2003, but after 14 months of stalling on a simple freedom-of-information request, his office will not release the correspondence until well after election day.”

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/federal-election-2007-news/pmbrethren-letters-held-until-after-poll/2007/11/18/1195321608622.html

  64. The Accordion says:

    Howard bobbed up on ABC radio on the weekend during the cricket lunch break – spent the entire time reminiscing about being on the hill at the SCG watching Don Bradman. Like when was that, 1870 or something? Nostalgic reverie is all he has to live for now.

  65. Ambigulous says:

    Her Majesty’s Vessel Menzies
    Orders for the day: Tuesday 20th November

    Capt Howard moved among his subjects on Sunday, and rediscovered the very fine qualities of both the Korean and the Chinese people. Any crew who should chance to observe a Chinese “junk” or a Korean “kwason” passing by must extend all maritime courtesies of deep respect. Lt Downer especially asked not to jeer or gesture. Cld Cdr Bishop kindly not lash out at “Teacher Taoists”.

    Fireworks observed in the early morn two hours before dawn were not Fireworks but three of the Officers advancing skywards. Quatermaster Costello commends them for supplying their own Petards.

    Ship’s Cat is now on Full-time Rodent Patrol.

    Viscount Turnbull continues to busy himself with a New Apparatus for Distilling fresh water using Sunshine. Master Brough is working on Moonshine. Lt Nairn seeks a new Eden.

    Capt Howard has been reading Mr Darwin, and has been considering whether some new Awards might be named in Honour of His work? “The Origin of the Specious Awards”??? Seems lengthy.

    Quartermaster has issued this week’s Scurvy Oranges; merrily quipped that sailors might navel-gaze rathe than naval-gaze. Capt glared with withering scorn. “Keep a lid on it, QM please!” quoth he who must be obeyed.

    Stand fast, men. Stout hearts and true. We shall prevail, God willing.

    [and Buddha, Capt says]

  66. David says:

    There’s a wonderful Bill Leak cartoon from a few years ago (yellowing and curled at the edges in pride-of-place on my fridge) which I think is prescient. It’s called “The Killawarra Disagreement”, and features Howard and Costello as homeless men. Costello is staggering around drunkenly, with a cask of cheap wine, saying “There we were, interest rates down, living the life of Reilly, and you had to …”. Howard, slumped on the pavement and leaning against a wall, interrupts with “Ah shuddup and peel me another banana.”

    Costello will probably return to the legal profession, but Howard has nothing in his life but politics – he’s a hollow man.

  67. joe2 says:

    “I’m not expressing a personal opinion about Kennett. I’m trying to articulate what others, who were Kennett haters, have said in reconsideration of his administration of Victoria.”

    My suspicion is that those you talk of ,Katz, never actually experienced the Kennett years, locally. His popularity outside Victoria never seems to have waned.

    He was the bloke ,for instance, that ran a prototype workchoices which stripped most of the working conditions for the lowly paid. His recent work in the help of the depressed, frankly, leaves me cold on a very hot day.

  68. Ambigulous says:

    Katz,

    We had some different views of Jeff K, out in the bush. Yes, the finances needed fixing, and that was bloody ridiculous when the trams were parked in the CBD one summer – strike action – while State Ministers (Cain Govt) went on their summer holidays: “Govt Ministers deadlocked” said the headline. Mrs Kirner of Emily’s List was no better than Cain’s last year.

    Jeff took away some workers’ entitlements, shifted some onto Federal awrards; certainly trimmed back the influence of Trades Hall. But he closed too many schools and put a big squeeze on hospitals then messed around with the ambulance system.

    So what may we thank Jeff for? Major infrastucture in central Melb, including private tollway (a boon to travel times, reducing air pollution); the Grand Pricks; opening the Casino and increasing pokies (a boon to loan sharks, inner city brothels, and funeral industry).

    Out here in rural Victoria, some of those looked bad to us. Seemed he spent many $$ on central Melb while country towns saw schools & banks close, facilities run down, roads deteriorate etc.

    So we cheered when he lost, and were NOT surprised that he lost.

    He’s re-made himself since, good luck to him; though Hawthorn footy presidency is to his shame. Boo, hiss.

    “Beyond Blue”? Well, it may do good work but he gets VERY preachy about it. Get a bit sick of these city slickers who suddenly “discover” The Drought. Wankers, to a man.

  69. Katz says:

    Yeah, Joe2 and Ambigulous. Maybe I hang out with too many doctors’ wives, shark-faced FX jockeys, and inner-suburban theatre-goers.

    And we all hated the sleazy Grand Prix deal.

    And we all cheered when Kennett bit the dust too.

    But lo and behold, folks stopped packing their gear into trucks and moving to Qld. Folks even started moving back.

    All that would probably have happened even if Kennett had saved the little one-roomed school in Oodnagalahbi North.

    His meanness killed him politically. Excellent!

  70. CK says:

    What’s Kennett got to do with anything? He’s dead and buried and offers no lessons for anyone. Start your own Jeffthread for goodness sake. Call it “Beyond BMW.” He’s a knob. No wonder he’s depressed.

    Anyway, depending on how bad the internal polling is, I think there could be a serious mid-week coalition implosion. It is, after all, the narrative we’re looking for. The dailies have sniffed the wind and a bit of last-minute drama is good for sales.

    I would never for a moment suggest a beat-up.

  71. Ambigulous says:

    oh no, did they close Oodnagalahbi North?

    That’s where Great-Uncle Cedric went, before he joined the Light Horse and got strafed by the Red Baron while galloping across the desert sands towards Tripoli Upper, or was it a tree-felling accident at Jeeralang North, I forget… now what were you saying about That Nice Mr Kennett, dear?

  72. Rod says:

    One Menzies quote that Howello don’t seem fond enough of to mention in the current campaign is:

    “A man may be a tough, concentrated, successful money-maker and never contribute to his country anything more than a horrible example. A manager may be tough and practical, squeezing out, while the going is good, the last ounce of profit and dividend, and may leave behind him an exhausted industry and a legacy of industrial hatred. A tough manager may never look outside his own factory walls or be conscious of his partnership in a wider world. I often wonder what strange cud such men sit chewing when their working days are over, and the accumulating riches of the mind have eluded them.”

    Strangely Cossie, as a head kicker on the big business payroll in his legal days, didn’t find it apposite in the course of the “Dollar Sweets” case , either! 😉

  73. j_p_z says:

    Mark, I think your sense of getting a refreshed grasp of the humanity of your mighty foe is kind of interesting and poignant.

    Personally, having loitered around this site for the better part of say 18 months now, and reading everyone’s continuing carping about J. Howard, I still can’t say that I quite grasp what’s so evil about the fellow. You might disagree with his particulars on this policy or that, which of course you should if his politics are contrary to your own; but I just don’t see how he’s the Wicked Witch of the West. Certainly over here we are saddled with a, er, leader far more deserving of every kind of condemnation. Isn’t it closer to the truth that Howard is a half-decent old bloke who served his country as best he could, coming from a time (and so a perspective) that is different from what most of the young’uns here would understand, and probably knowing as he does (being a national leader) a lot of ugly unpleasant facts that most civilians probably don’t or can’t know of, and wouldn’t want to contemplate even if they did. Doesn’t he deserve a wee bit of slack?

    All the same, whomever youse all decide to elect next, I hope he does a fine job, and manages to lead your country sanely, and that you have as much prosperity and national well-being as can be gotten.

  74. Katz says:

    Isn’t it closer to the truth that Howard is a half-decent old bloke who served his country as best he could, coming from a time (and so a perspective) that is different from what most of the young’uns here would understand, and probably knowing as he does (being a national leader) a lot of ugly unpleasant facts that most civilians probably don’t or can’t know of, and wouldn’t want to contemplate even if they did.

    No.

    He’s made a career out of lies and mendacity.

    He has deliberately obfuscated his vision for Australia.

    He has dumped his own principles and associates with ruthlessness when political survival dictated.

    Maybe leaders do know many unpleasant facts. Howard was a genius at hinting at them to his own advantage. So he neither shielded us nor did he educate us. We were neither consoled nor treated as adults.

  75. Gaz says:

    “Doesn’t he deserve a wee bit of slack?”

    Indeed he does,and a gentleman named Albert Pierrpoint would be able to work it out to the inch.

  76. Paul Burns says:

    j-p-z,
    Before Howard, most of us would agree that the leaders of the right in this country -Deakin, Menzies, Holt, Fraser, Hewson, were basically decent men, regardless of their ideology or how they got into office (in Fraser’s case.) ; or we would have thought them silly old fools (McMahon) or they were former Labor leaders who never quite abandoned their Labor principles – Hughes, Lyons.
    Billy Hughes who had been a member of every political party in Australia except the Country Party – today’s Nationals – was asked why he hadn’t joined the Country Party . He replied – Brother, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”
    Back to my point. Howard is different. He has continually lied to us, he has attempted to exert a totalitarian control over our media (not that successfully) and on every occasion he could sxploit the bad side of the Australian character (and we do have a dark side, despite our generally sunny dispositions) he has never failed to do so. Sometimes countries throw up leaders who are just plain bad (in your case, GWB might be stupid, but he’s not bad, while Cheney probably is.) We’ve been lucky. We’ve rarely thrown them up. or when we have, like the neo Naxi Ereic Butler, whom Howard supports, they’ve been powerless – that is until now, with Howard.
    Despite our terrible rcord with the Aborigines (which until recently, most of us didn’t know about)we are not a country used to dealing with the banality of evil when it appears among us. So when Howard appeareds, though we didn;’t like him, we didn’t really recognise him for what he was, despite the signs being there.
    Now we do. And hopefully next Saturday, we’ll be rid of him, and over the next few years we’ll be rid of all the evil that he’s done.
    Because whatever else one may think of him we have a good man now,wanting to be our leader, a basically decent man (regardless of his Xanity)(or perhaps because of it) and most of us right across the political spectrum see it, and we want him, too.

  77. Paul Burns says:

    In case its unclear that decent man is Kevin Rudd.

  78. FDB says:

    Gaz – supoib, my man.

  79. FDB says:

    Well, minus the spelling mistake. 😉

  80. Gaz says:

    Comment by FDB — November 20, 2007.

    Cheers mate,I just wish it could happen.Still Karma some times takes many forms.The thought of Costello being P.M. to Howard, is worse than anything Albert could inflict on him.

  81. Gaz says:

    That’s how it’s pronounced in the Bronx!aint it?

  82. FDB says:

    Sorry, I was referring to your spelling mistake – as I understand it Monsieur Le Noose requires another ‘e’.

  83. Gaz says:

    “Sorry, I was referring to your spelling mistake – as I understand it Monsieur Le Noose requires another ‘e’.”

    Er sorry mate,I left school in grade seven I will try harder.

  84. FDB says:

    I regret bringing it up really. Sullying a good gag and all.

    Moderator, cover my shame!

  85. joe2 says:

    “But lo and behold, folks stopped packing their gear into trucks and moving to Qld. Folks even started moving back.”

    And Katz, do not forget Joh Bjelke-Petersens’ inheritance tax abolition ….. “leading to a steady flow of retired people moving from the southern states of Victoria and New South Wales to Queensland, particularly the Gold Coast. All other Australian states and territories had abolished this tax by 1981 in attempt to stem the flow of people to Queensland.”

    That tax was about stopping ‘some families’ from making empires at everybody elses expense. When it went north, fairness in our society, did likewise.

  86. nasking says:

    This YouTube vid has a great song…& images that bring back ‘memories’ big time:

    (John Howard – In Memorandum – The Howard Years)

    spread it around…pass it on…:)

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