(Above: Tony and Larry. No, not Tony Abbott, Tony Curtis, in a steamy bath scene in Spartacus, with Sir Laurence Olivier).
So much to learn about history from history films, which might be dramas to the average person but documentaries to the discerning academic. Or so Keith Windschuttle assures us.
Today fellow helots, our theme is Spartacus:
Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.
Oh you wicked Crassus. Now back to normal service:
A capacity for blather is at the heart of any pundit's commentariat skill set.
Here's Dennis Shanahan scribbling for The Australian, in Daring speech invokes Churchill:
Tony Abbott has declared he's no Winston Churchill and he's no John Winston Howard, but the new leader of the Liberal Party is prepared to deliver a Churchillian address without the Howard outlook.
In Britain's darkest hour Churchill wanted to defend the British Isles on the beaches and everywhere else.
As the new leader of the opposition, Howard delivered a series of "headland" speeches in 1995, which set out Liberal thinking without committing the Coalition to the detail of an election policy.
Today Abbott will deliver a speech that is not a headland speech but an "on the beaches" one. Instead of setting out a policy outline, even as brief as Howard did in 1995, he has adopted an oppositionalist approach which goes for the government in a negative sense.
Uh huh, so yesterday, Tony Abbott was Churchillian, in a novel way - against those inglorious basterd Nazis led by Chairman Rudd - as well as an attractively hairy, manly 'bear' capable of wildly exciting Janet Albrechtsen.
Anyone got a spare penny for the Godwin's Law jar, breaking the law thereof? Or is Shanahan too thick or obtuse to make the connection that Churchill's rhetorical, physical and practical foe was the Nazi swine, in to which role the scribbler's just cast Rudd and the Labor party?
Oh well, being a doofus is an eminent qualification for writing for the Murdoch press.
Today? Why Tony Abbott's someone altogether different:
Tony Abbott is the Spartacus of Australian politics. No longer content to be slaves in Kevin Rudd's victory procession, the Liberal heartland has found its Spartacus and revolted. Most Liberals feel energised by the leadership change and dare to dream of winning the next election. So far the polls have not moved but that gives Abbott plenty of runway. It is unlikely that people have made up their minds about him.
He knows that the odds are against him winning so early in the life of a new government. The key to Abbott's approach is that he is a guerilla fighter. The phrase loyal opposition is to him an oxymoron. No quarter will be given and none is expected.
Yep, that's Arthur Sinodinos in The Australian, under the header Spartacus leads grassroots revolt.
Oh please, stop it the pair of you, before I go blind. Never mind the polls, we have a dream of Churchill v Spartacus, played by Steve Reeves, v. Chairman Rudd as the leader of the Nazi party.
The rest of the two columns is just standard pumping up stuff, rhetoric designed to hail the new emperor Caesar.
You see, you wretches, look what you've started. Suddenly I'm talking about Gaius Julius Caesar, though perhaps bearing in mind political felicitude, I should have been referencing Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known as Derek Jacobi to the socialists who worship at the feet of BBC drama.
But while on the subject of history, surely Sinodinos scores an epic fail for his supremely irrelevant evocation of an historical figure.
After all, while you might know Kirk Douglas as the real Spartacus, the real real Spartacus was a slave and gladiator who led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic.
The notion that Tony Abbott is a slave gladiator who's leading a charge against the big end of town is so risible that Sinodinos should be made to wash out his keyboard and his mouth with soap. And if Chairman Rudd and his SS stormtrooper minions represent the big end of town, what are we fighting about?
Surely Tones should join the Labor party, and settle in for a handsome dish of oysters, Crassus and Malcolm Turnbull style, while the revolting Liberals keep revolting, and secure Penrith, Dandenong and Salisbury from the encroaching hordes of big townians with their oyster and snail fetishes.
Spartacus is one of my favourite historical characters - he was a great diversion from the chore of ploughing through the more arcane intricacies of Roman history - and as always you can get an introductory wiki on him here.
If you can find the remotest connection to Tony Abbott in Spartacus's history, why not give Arthur Sinodinos a call and run away with him to a desert island? There you can study primers like Fun with Tony and Janet, and learn basic skills pertaining to metaphors, as opposed to playing spin the top.
At least Churchill was a conservative, and Tony Abbott has a Churchill fixation, and it allows Shanahan a standard out to wrap up his column:
It will all depend on how the public reads Abbott's actions and whether it sees Churchill on the beaches, Howard on the headlands or Rudd on the ocean levels.
You see, he might be Churchill fighting the Nazis on the beaches, or he might just be a naughty boy all at sea in a Monty Python film, or he might be a journalist writing a column in desperate search for a meaningful metaphor, and instead settling for inane Churchillian stupidity in the standard Rupert minion way.
As for Sinodinos, about the only joy in his wrap for Tony Abbott is the notion that the saga might end the same way as Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus.
I can imagine all the commentariat columnists standing together. Janet Albrechtsen shouting "I'm Tony Abbott", Gerard Henderson chiming in politely in a Pooterish way with "I'm Tony Abbott", Piers Akerman bellowing "I'm Tony Abbott", Glenn Milne shadow boxing on stage as he chants "I'm Tony Abbott", and so on and on throughout the land as all the revolting Liberals stand and shout "I'm Tony Abbott". To thwart that evil Nazi Chairman Rudd and his plan to take young Tones away for a ritual Nazi crucifixion of the kind dished out by Tom Cruise to Claus von Stauffenberg.
Now how did Stanley Kubrick end his satisfying, if flawed movie version? Can't rightly recollect, but I seem to recall it ended badly for Spartacus. Oh go on, Chairman Rudd, crucify him, like the Hitler you are.
There's nothing like stripping the meaning from names and words in the quest for a meaningless conversation.
Because here's the thing. All Tony Abbott has to do is firmly oppose Stephen Conroy's internet filter plan, and I'll do a Janet Albrechtsen, and hug and kiss his hairy manly chest, and stand up and shout "I'm Tony Abbott". Come to think of it, all Janet Albrechtsen has to do is vigorously oppose Conroy's internet plan, and I'll kiss her hairy chest and shout "I'm Tony Abbott".
And now, in the grand tradition of Tim Blair, and The Punch, and all the other intellectual property thieves who work for the Murdoch empire, here's the pay off to that routine - unless of course you accept fair use provisions to make a satirical point about the doofuses who scribble for Chairman Rupert, in such a way as to provoke you to acquire a legit dvd copy of Olivier porking his way way through the show, in which case here's the legit fair use pay off to the above routine: