Saturday, January 14, 2012

On the topic of the Punch, the Drum and the shrill bleating of partisan sheep ...

(Above: from the days when The Punch was the Melbourne Punch).

At last we have a definitive date for the decline and downfall of Julia Gillard.

... if February brings no significant improvement for the Government or Gillard, then the Ides of March may beckon for the PM.

The good old Idus Marti, 15th day of March. The day that big Julie copped a stabbing, and as we know we live in Shakesepherian times - thanks to Elizabeth Farrelly - and as the Labor party is steeped in awareness of historical and theatrical traditions - keeping the script under the pillow - the definitive date is now set by a Murdoch hack.

Said Murdoch hack is Simon Benson, and he weaves a fine golden tale of treachery and woe out of a dinner between Robert McClelland and former dear leader Kevin, because they got together in a very fancy restaurant, and everyone just loved the Ruddster, and like a shark needs to keep swimming, the Ruddster is on the move.

Yes Benson in PM beware former foes dining in fancy restaurants is carrying out the cryptic instruction embedded in the title of the British movie We Need to Talk About Kevin, the profound prophetic insight of its title first revealed in Lionel Shriver's novel, curiously and prophetically titled ... We Need to Talk About Kevin.

That's all anybody does these days, talk about Kevin, which must be a relief, because it means Kevin isn't the only one to keep on talking about Kevin.

And it was only on the 17th October last year that Christian Kerr announced to Phillip Adams, deep in man love for Kevin Rudd, that we were in the final days of the Gillard government. At last we're shifting from the final months - barring February - to the final days!

And yet what's this? Is Benson having doubts?

The problem for Rudd is that there is no consensus among even his supporters about what to do, when and how to actually achieve a change. And there is still entrenched opposition to the idea of his return among many senior MPs.

What a disappointment. To read the whole gossipy gossamer web of intrigue and arrive at this penultimate par. A fancy conspiracy unravelled in a few cruel sentences.

Will the man love of Phillip Adams ever triumph, not that there's anything wrong with man love ...
Lordy, speaking of man love, who'd ever have guessed it. Tony Abbott was right three years ago, and he's still right, and he'll be right in the future, perhaps until the twelfth of never ...

Well, here's a pond prediction. Gillard might well be in a spot of bother this year, but if you rely on the hacks at News Ltd to call it right as to date and detail, you could be waiting a very long time, as they search through the runes and the entrails and the tea leaves.

You might recall it was in the Herald - courtesy Rudd's secret polling on his leadership - that the wheels began to fall off the Rudd machine.

But wait, there's an even better guide, what the pond calls the Latham Principle (or Factor if you will):

MARK LATHAM, FORMER LABOR LEADER (excerpt from Sky News National): Any party that made me leader could do anything in the future. (Richos big scoop).

But is there anything that makes March and its ides more or less likely than all the pundit predictions that littered the second half of last year as they fell by the wayside?

Who knows, but you certainly get more substance from a meal of rice bubbles than you do from munching on Simon Benson's contradictory speculations ...

Meanwhile, it being Saturday, and having punched up the punch drunk ramblings that are a routine feature of The Punch, what better time than to maintain the rage by helping to drum up a din about The Drum.

The movement began to gain momentum when an outraged blogger drew attention to the inordinate number of gherkin politicians who'd strutted their stuff on The Drum, which all too frequently acts like a paid political advertisement site.

By golly, what a list of names it is, and the conclusion?

All these elected officials, former or current, have been published on the Drum. Why? What contribution can they make that’s new and relevant? They bring us no new facts, no insight – just the opinion of one side of politics, which we already know. These people don’t need the ABC as an outlet to get their message across. Their message is already articulated. There is nothing they can say that could possibly make us better-informed or more understanding of issues. All we get is an obvious statement of the party line. (Beating the Drum)

Citizen Cam was outraged in particular by a piece by Peter Reith:

So we have a former LIBERAL minister, saying that the government should follow LIBERAL policies and that everything that’s wrong is the government’s fault.

And to prove he was being even-handed, he took a swipe at the Ruddster:

So we have the Foreign Minister telling us that Australia’s government is engaging with the parties in the Middle East and trying to find a solution? Gosh, is it? Surely the Australian Foreign Minister wouldn’t be saying the Australian government has a good foreign policy? Wow! What were the odds?

Citizen Cam also took exception to Bob Ellis - who wouldn't - and the assorted bunch of no hopers and panel beaters with an agenda that regularly turn up, most important amongst this motley lot columnists from the Institute of Public Affairs offering cheap copy.

For the record, the IPA launders money from big business - unrevealed and unaccounted - in the quest to peddle the views of big tobacco, climate change sceptics, and sundry other themes too bold for the sponsors to adopt publicly themselves (and there's more here in the wiki on this).

It's one of those bold brave new libertarian, free thinking machines that just can't quite manage to be free and informative about its financing and its internal mechanisms ...

The ABC and the IPA seem to have reached an understanding that the broadcaster will give them a voice every opportunity it gets, either in print on the Drum website or on the eponymous TV panel discussion program. IPA regulars Chris Berg and Tim Wilson, and their spiritual, if not literal, colleagues Tom Switzer and James Paterson are constantly bombarding us with either a line from the conservative cliché book or, more commonly, a conspiracy theory that defies logic and follows the general IPA view that the government is an evil Stalinist monster.

Now you might think Citizen Cam is exaggerating, but on an almost daily basis, the Drum proves his point. Take this recent effort from Chris Berg, What's wrong with 'no'?, which sent the punters into a commenting frenzy (over four hundred), and which concluded thusly:

There's nothing wrong with no. Abbott just needs to say it more often.

It was an ever so cute flip on the noalition routine of the naysayers, and a clue to Berg's usual routine perverse style, a contrarianism, which somehow strangely always ends up conforming to the IPA line on everything. Kind of the contrarian Claytons you drink when you don't really want a contrarian drink ...

In particular, Berg wanted Abbott to say yes to the right to importers to import, without having to prove they're selling in Australia below cost, because ... well because dumping is a damn good thing. Oh and Abbott should say yes to the right for Chinese companies to buy up Australian farms around Australia, willy nilly, no doubt because selling off the country will give the Chinese people food security.

Of course he didn't quite frame it this way. Instead he proposed that Tony Abbott should say no to Jolly Joe Hockey and the National Party, and say no to Tony Abbott's very own set of policies ...

You see, you can never say no or neigh enough.

And in the process of criticising the right from the right, Berg manages to get in some standard pro forma IPA shots about climate change, carbon pricing and workplace reform ...

The result? The ABC's The Drum routinely now peddles outlier scribbling, and this translates - because of the ABC's cross-platform approach into every branch of its outlets - into Berg babbling on about Berg columns in The Drum in television, and you can also listen to Berg delivering expert opinions on radio, and Berg peddling IPA thoughts and notions in every nook and cranny of the ABC ... in a veritable Bergarama ... until you want to join Citizen Cam and shout I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more ...

Nothing is gained by the shrill bleating of partisan sheep, all baaing the same tune. It adds nothing to the debate, it adds nothing to our understanding of the issues, and it sure as hell adds nothing to the level of public discourse in this country.

Put it another way, as we head off to our favourite collection of koans for a little relief:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?" (here)

It's beyond time to empty The Drum which doesn't have the money to do its job well - contrast the work on view in The New York Review of Books, or The New Yorker - and so it settles for political giveaways and glad hands, and deadbeat lobbyists ...

... which in its new incarnation on ABC1 attracted 149,000 viewers in the 6 pm slot on its first night. May the ratings continue to slide, and may people continue to ...

1 comment:

  1. John Howard's ABC. Like everything else he touched, it's turned to shit.


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