Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Can he be serious?

In The Age this morning, the Prime Minister responds with more aggression and spin to the latest polls showing that Australians are sick to death of aggression and spin:

'PRIME Minister John Howard has vowed to launch a more aggressive attack on Labor's economic credentials in a bid to secure his fifth term in office, conceding he cannot ignore the Government's poll slump.

After yesterday's ACNielsen/ Age poll found Labor had surged to a 61 versus 39 per cent two-party lead over the Coalition, Mr Howard acknowledged the difficulties facing his Government.

"I can't ignore the fact that we have had quite a series of bad polls over the past few months and I ask myself: why is it that the polls are so bad for the Government at present?" he said on a two-day official visit to Japan.

"I think one of the reasons … is that the Labor Party has successfully created the impression that … the economy runs on autopilot and it's got nothing to do with good governance. That, of course, could not be further from the truth."'

Shorter John Howard: 'Hmmm, a vicious, unsubstantiated attack didn't work ... I know! I'll try a vicious, unsubstantiated attack!'

Is he really so deep in denial that he can't see that the answer to the question he asked himself has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with his own behaviour? That the spinning, lying and muckraking which apparently make up about three-quarters of Australian political life have finally begun to repel 'the Australian people'?

But it's part of the subculture of politics, as the title of Graham Richardson's Whatever It Takes a few years ago made repulsively clear. And beyond politics you see the same pattern in every corner of life: people inside any subculture -- not just politics, but any distinct social group -- refer everything back to its often unspoken rules, within which their behaviour seems to them to be perfectly normal. They act accordingly, and are then very startled when the big world crashes in, in the shape of the bank, the AFL tribunal, the defamation laws, the police or the opinion polls.

It's the same reason why the 14-year-old girl in hospital over the summer with serious injuries from a crash on her illegal jet ski said confidently to camera 'Oh yes, I'll do it again. Everybody breaks the law -- it doesn't matter.' It's the same reason why I have become, to my horror, much more of a potty-mouth than I was before I took up blogging. It's the same reason why so many footballers went feral over the summer. And it's basically the same reason why the Prime Minister appears unable to see, even now, what's sitting right under his nose.

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