Thursday, March 04, 2010

Miranda Devine, and the bizarre but not unusual sight of a high Tory bashing the low Tories ...

(Above: be very afraid, that's a mute craven liberal moderate under your bed, and monsters don't come any worse than that. Not even leftist utopians).

It's an old saw that you need to be wary about professions that begin with a "p".

Politicians, priests, psychiatrists, plumbers. Say no more.

It means healthy lifestyles - like perverts - and healthy enthusiasms - an interest in perversions - get swept up in the 'p' phobia.

I just had to start that way because 'd' for Devine is back, flailing away with Who's who in the hubris ranking.

And in her usual way, it's never a half measure, as she proclaims that she's head over heels in love with Tony Abbott.

Up to that moment I'd been thinking Abbott had been cruising along fine. Sure he might have found himself lost up a creek without a paddle, but who hasn't been lost in the Australian bush? (Outback experience vital, says 'lost' Abbott). Who hasn't been lost amongst the fossils?

Why here we are lost in a Miranda Devine column.

But when you get the Devine praising you, in language which is unctuous, almost uxorious, it should surely give you pause. Any chance of looking like you're in the middle vanishes into a haze of right wing dolthood:

... his strong moral compass, whether you agree with it or not, and clear-thinking, forthright language, give the Liberals the momentum of a leader who is Howard's natural successor.

But why the sudden reversion to Howard? Well Howard is now suddenly rampant because he's got a gig at the ICC:

With John Howard popping up in his new role as International Cricket Council vice-president, after virtually a 2½ year absence, you wonder if many of those who couldn't wait to see the back of him are questioning themselves. That's not to say Howard hadn't run his course as prime minister - hubris creeps into even the most determinedly humble 11-year government.

Huh? Say what? He's got a gig at the ICC and people who wanted to see the back of him should question themselves?

What a goose. Should people who wanted to see the back of the amiable Kim Beazley as leader of the opposition suddenly think again because he likes to slip on black ice as the new ambassador to the United States? Should those eager to see the back of Gareth Evans think again because he's turned up at the ANU after a recent career attempting to bore people into the path of peace?

Yep, it's the usual nonsense. Talk of a government failing from hubris, then yearning for the return of the master of hubris. Well cricket can have him, and good luck to it as it attempts to turn people back to the utter tedium of a game played over five days (ye gods, five days), compared to the current interest in the 20 20 lollypops. The Indians will have Howard for dinner, so he'd better learn to love curry.

But back to Tony Abbott:

Abbott is more pugnacious, soulful and unpredictable than Howard; he has the added burden of Catholicism; but both are fit, wiry men with enormous tenacity and self-belief, whose opponents underestimate them. Both are unashamed social conservatives who espouse the value of family, faith, flag and defending institutions.

Eek, there's something worse than the letter 'p'.

It's 'f', what with the family, faith and the flag. And as for 'defending institutions', what on earth does that blather mean? A cryptic dog whistle to the monarchists? Or perhaps psychiatric institutions, though I always prefer the term bedlam. Being sometime Catholic.

Dear lord, I used to think it was only the Major in Fawlty Towers who liked to speak in this way:

The Major: Strange creatures, women. I knew one once... striking-looking girl... tall, you know... father was a banker.
Basil: Really?
The Major: Don't remember the name of the bank.
Basil: Nevermind.
The Major: I must have been rather keen on her because I took her to see... India!
Basil: India?
The Major: At the Oval... fine match, marvellous finish... now, Surrey had to get thirty-three in about half an hour... she went off to powder her... powder her hands or something... women... er... never came back.
Basil: What a shame.
The Major: And the strange thing was... throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. "No no no," I said, "the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs." "No, no," she said. "All cricketers are niggers."
Basil: They do get awfully confused, don't they? They're not thinkers. I see it with Sybil everyday.
The Major: I do wish I could remember her name. She's still got my wallet.
Basil: As I was saying, no capacity for logical thought.
The Major: Who?
Basil: Women.
The Major: Oh yes, yes... I thought you meant Indians.

(Oh I say Major, let's go do some rat hunting for those craven mute liberal moderates).

Oh dear, I see this site has slipped into offensive imperialist nostalgia mode, what with all the talk of John Howard, cricket, and "institutions". But somehow it reminded me of Howard striding off, Rudyard Kipling style, to tackle the Indians.

Could the slippery sliding slope to offensiveness be the result of reading the Devine's rampant revanchism?

Like Howard, Abbott is subjected to vitriolic character assassination. As they get to know him, voters can see the criticism is untrue, as they did with Howard. In the end, Howard haters became Howard's secret asset. The more vituperative and unhinged they were, the more reasonable he looked. Abbott's critics will probably not be able to help themselves following the same path.

Yep, John Howard looked so reasonable, his government got booted out of office, and he lost his seat. Now there's knock down reasonableness for you. Impenetrable reasonableness I say.

After the unsurprising defeat of Howard, the Liberals flew into a needless panic. There was nothing wrong with Howard conservatism - it just needed a fresh face.

Yep, it's unsurprising he got defeated, so what we need is more of the same with a fresh coat of paint, so it won't be unsurprising if it too gets defeated.

Such is the complex stupidity of Devine's position that she spends more of her column time slamming weak-kneed moderate conservatives than she does musing about the way Howard's battlers might become Abbott's foot soldiers, as she muses on the way Chairman Rudd's apparently unravelled with a speed she finds extraordinary.

Poor old Malcolm Turnbull cops a pounding:

There are those in his party who say Abbott is lucky and the swing away from Rudd would have occurred under Malcolm Turnbull. But that's wishful thinking from people who can't bear to acknowledge that no matter how mute and cowardly are the bulk of Liberal voters, they want a conservative party that is conservative - and the war zone of conservatism these days is not fiscal but social.

Oh you mute cowards in the centre, how silent and craven you are. Listen to the Devine! How's that for egging on your supporters. Calling the bulk of them mute and cowardly. Voting with their hip pockets when they should be fighting the history and the culture and the social wars.

In the old days it would have simply been called an egging:

As visiting British commentator Melanie Phillips put it this week, in a column favourably comparing Abbott to Tory leader David Cameron: ''Why should anyone vote for [conservatives] if they are merely left-wing wannabes? If people want utopia and the repression that inevitably follows its pursuit, the party to vote for is Labour: it does it so much better.''

As opposed to the utopia of the Catholic church and its joyous and sundry repressions?

Never mind, what fun it is to see high Tories bashing low Tories, as a way forward for the Liberal party. With a bit of luck they'll have all the success of the Jensenist heresy in the Anglican community:

... across the country, the self-described ''moderate'' wing of socially progressive conservatives thought it was their time. And climate change and the emissions trading scheme was their chance to prove it. We see now how successful that has been. Conservative leaders from Britain to Tasmania, who should romp into office in coming elections against old broken-down governments, instead deliver lacklustre poll ratings. Their attempts to hide the intractable inconsistency of progressive conservatism with spin and flim-flam have been unsuccessful.

Well David Cameron rides a bicycle. Surely that's the real problem?

In Britain, the progressive David Cameron, whose motto was ''Vote blue, go green'', is faltering against Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his tired government, with recent polls showing the gap is closing. Simon Heffer of The Daily Telegraph in London tells us the conservatives have been doing such a bad job that potential working class supporters, disillusioned with Labour's high-handed big-spending ways, are turning to the racist far-right British National Party. That's what happens when oppositions don't oppose - extremists get a foothold.

What? You mean extremists like Miranda the Devine, who rabbit on about faith and family and and flag and 'institutions'?

Like members of the BNP are sometimes known to do? And think climate change is all tosh?

Why is it that extremists can never see that they're extreme?

Since the Devine's whole piece is about the way the middle road isn't good enough, what we need is good old fashioned Tory conservative extremism. Harumph.

Back to the Devine doing her Major impression:

In Victoria, John Brumby's spin-heavy government, which presided over last year's disastrous bushfires, and with a law and order program dictated by left-wing criminologists, has been internationally shamed by a seeming epidemic of racial bashings of Indian students. Yet the opposition, headed by ''Red Ted'' Baillieu, had struggled to lead in the polls, and only did so after Baillieu started taking a firm stand on policing. In Tasmania, another socially progressive Liberal leader, Will Hodgman, is slipping in the polls. The Greens are rising fast to take the balance of power in this month's election.

A firm stand on policing! Lock 'em up and throw away the key, or else the Greens will come from under the bed, and eat you. That's what happens to naughty children, the monster greens eat you.

Now sit up, shut up and eat your greens. And hear more harrowing, sickening tales of low-key moderates:

In NSW, Barry O'Farrell, a low-key moderate, is at last narrowly leading in the polls, hardly an achievement against a shambolic long-term government. Only in South Australia, where ''mousy'' straight-talking conservative Isobel Redmond is Liberal leader, does the opposition appear to be gaining a healthy lead.

And what has led to this transformation, this way forward?

The collapse of the climate change scare campaign propelled Tony Abbott into office, the decline of Rudd's credibility coinciding with Climategate, the Copenhagen debacle and revelations of flaws in the IPCC science.

Ah, at last the penny tumbles. It's all due to climate change, and Tony Abbott, the true denier, will come to save the planet by pretending to do something, but actually doing nothing. Since climate change has now been conclusively, in a couple of succinct words - one using 'gate', the other 'debacle', the third 'flaws' - has been proven by the Devine to be a crock. QED, which is to say quite extraordinarily dumb.

You know, I can't help but return to the Devine's final par, and its strange logic, the kind of logic that sees her celebrate Susan Greenfield one week, then celebrate the benign influence of television on gen x, y and z's another week (and soon this alphabet lesson will be complete):

In the end, Howard haters became Howard's secret asset. The more vituperative and unhinged they were, the more reasonable he looked.

All the way to an election he lost through unreasonable hubris!

Abbott's critics will probably not be able to help themselves following the same path.

It's true I can't help myself. The more the Devine rabbits on in this way, the more suspicions I suddenly hold about Abbott as he tries to pitch himself as a man of the middle, more moderate than Chairman Rudd, maligned as an extremist but actually a centrist wanting to avoid the ratbaggery indulged in by hardline conservatives. A man who can bring together an army of battlers to plant trees and ride bicycles.

He's already retreated from the Devine's position on climate change, if only to the point of devising a half assed policy. And if he's to gain power he'll need to tread even more in the middle ground, and appeal to swinging voters, and that's never been about social issues, especially the kind of social issues and attitudes espoused by the likes of the Devine, when they suggest Cardinal Pell or Susan Greenfield have got sensible things to say to the masses.

Well the day that Tony Abbott disappoints Miranda the Devine in one of her columns - perhaps one of his lycra-clad bicycle moments - is the day I'll consider voting for him. And he needs swinging voters like me.

By all means, bring on an election based around the social issues espoused by Opus Dei. Let's see how well it runs ...

In the meantime, I'm happy to be reminded that the letter 'f' has many uses beyond flag, family and faith. Like fuckwit.

(Below: here's what you need to fix what ails ya).


  1. steady on dorothy old girl,"a rampant howard" hush your mouth.think of the children please!

  2. I have this vague, but insistent, memory that John Winston Howard once dubbed Miranda as "the right's answer to Phil Adams". You know the idea, the left, as well as all the best songs, have the best commentariat, too.

    If so, it's sort of worked out real well, hasn't it.

  3. I hope you lot are keen devotees of the BNP and its policies:

    Law and order - crack down on crime!
    Education - discipline, standards, achievement!
    Pensioners - pensioners before asylum seekers.
    Foreign aid - time to spend our money on our own people!

    Damn and then they had to ruin it all:

    Environment - a cleaner, greener future!

    Damn, another party me and Miranda won't be able to join.

    As for Phil, he's droning on in the background right now, talking over his guests in the usual self-regarding way. Purgatory is switching on the radio, hell is opening the Herald and reading Miranda Devine?

    Ah well, at least the music's good.

  4. Well, I did like the bit about:

    AGRICULTURE – quality before quantity! - especially as the BNP promises that it will "... ensure a major shift to healthier and more sustainable organic farming.

    Now that's an offer Pauline never made. And we could really do with just a little bit of "quality" in the "fresh food market" nowadays.


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