Friday, March 09, 2012

And remember to eat your humble pie and Skype regularly ...

(Above: no links, screen caps. Would the pond pander and link to the fickle gold bar of fate?)

For a moment there, the pond blinked.

Was it only a stardust moment ago that Stephen Smith was being touted by the ratpack at The Australian was a safe pair of hands, the next leader of the federal Labor party, and if not that, then surely the next Minister for Foreign Affairs ...

How the world turns. Now the glimmer twins at that fish and chips rag, the lizard Oz, Sheridan and "the tie" Shanahan have turned on the rag's one-time hero, one of a trifecta routinely praised by the hacks as alternatives to Gillard and/or Rudd (though I guess as well as Smith and Crean and Shorten they also dragged in Greg Combet so maybe we should be talking quadrella).

With the leadership done and dusted - if only for the moment, oh if only for the moment - now the professional piñata bashers have got a new piñata to bash around.

Aboriginal people must be a tad bewildered, or at least suffering from irony shock, remembering how the commentariat at The Australian had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards saying sorry (and some never made it across the line).

Now it seems that saying sorry is hugely important, and if you don't say sorry and eat humble pie, why you're nothing but a feather duster. Of course The Australian could fill up an entire edition if it cared to say sorry for all the stupidities and sillinesses its commentariat has scribbled, but you have to be careful about who should say sorry.

So far as the whole sorry mess is concerned, it seems the hundreds of allegations of sexual harassment in the armed services can simply be swept under the carpet, and the one failure worth noting is a failure to say sorry on a single matter.

So what's fearless leader Tony Abbott's response to the matter?

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, also criticised Mr Smith's handling of the matter and challenged Mr Smith's assertion that there was a problem with defence culture. ''Bad things happen in all walks of life,'' he said.

Uh huh, the shit happens excuse, mingled perhaps with a tad of harden the fuck up. But they filmed me having sex on Skype ... sorry, shit happens, harden the fuck up. But I was raped ... sorry, shit happens, why don't you just harden the fuck up.

It's the Minister who should say sorry ...

But was it stupid in any way to mix up disciplinary charges with the Skype affair, as managed by the military hierarchy?

... yesterday Channel Ten obtained the original Kirkham report, and it told a significantly different story. ''Commodore Kafer could and should have foreseen that [disciplinary charges would be served on Kate] at a time when [she was receiving] medical treatment and had recently been advised of the Skype incident, and further that such service could cause her upset.'' (here)

The pond is prejudiced in these matters. Being a woman in the army is surely a rough equivalent of being a woman in the Catholic church. Or the Sydney Anglicans if you will ...

Fortunately there's no need to pay hard-won cash to read the glimmer twins berating Smith, you can get a serve of that lumpy gravy by reading Peter Leahy's rant for free in Granny, with Minister gags on taste of defeat.

Truth to tell, the pond gagged on Leahy's rant, which starts off this way:

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Stephen Smith finally fronted up to his plate of humble pie. No matter how much he tried to disguise it with other tasty morsels (culture report and DLA Piper) it was still there front and centre on the plate: the Kirkham inquiry. The minister was invited to eat it and he gagged.

By golly, talk about misbegotten, woebegotten triumphalism.

If the pond hadn't been reminded that Leahy was at one point lieutentant general and Chief of Army, it would have sounded like a Major General skit in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

Now lad eat your humble pie gruel. Please sir, I don't want to eat my gruel. Dammit lad, it'll be twenty lashes, and double the gruel, and you'll damn well like it, and we'll Skype you while you're eating and you'll smile and clean the plate with a toothbrush, and soon enough we'll make a man of you (or perhaps a woman if you're a woman, though what you're doing here I still don't quite understand, but perhaps if you harden the fuck up and stand in a corner we can overlook the whole thing).

Leahy seems to have been writing before the Ten network got hold of the unedited report, but while he's rabbiting on about humble pie, and the glimmer twins are rabbiting on about saying sorry, how about there's an orgy of saying sorry, and an inquiry into the 775 "plausible allegations of abuse" that make the defence forces sound like the Catholic church on steroids?

Mr Smith appeared on Wednesday alongside the Chief of Defence Force, David Hurley, and the head of the Department of Defence, Duncan Lewis, who were both sporting their International Women's Day ribbons.
But Kate seems to have been completely forgotten.
Where is the apology to her?
Where is the outrage about the abuse others have suffered? (Smith should be commended for dragging the ADF into the 21st century)

The pond usually isn't in the business of quoting a journalist straight, but here we go, quoting Stephanie Peatling:

Smith should be commended for his continuing efforts to drag the kicking and screaming ADF into the 21st century when it comes to the treatment of women within its ranks.
Instead Smith is copping the same flack that is flung at any minister who dare questions the private and shadowy dealings of the military.

Yep, and whose flinging the flack? The Australian of course, off on another witch hunt, along with the usual military suspects, carrying with them a huge serving of humble pie.

Now eat up lad, it's for your own good, and don't you go courting the female vote with your wishy washy do gooder ways.

Now here's another dose of Leahy huffing and puffing:

What might the minister take away from his serve of humble pie? First, take a deep breath before becoming involved in personnel issues and, second, leave the day-to-day internal management of his department to those who are properly responsible.

Uh huh. Like the gherkins who clearly don't have the first clue about how to handle personnel issues and keep it off the front page of the tabloids and off the Ten network in the first place ...

Meanwhile, the Leavy piece is revealing in another way, as in a staff sergeant way, he dismisses the Minister from the job of getting caught up in army sex scandals - as if the tabloids allow a choice - and directs him towards his real job:

He might also consider telling the public what is going on in Afghanistan. Clearly the withdrawal is on. What are the Americans up to and how do we need to moderate our plans to match their tempo and posture? What are our intentions and what will our commitment to Afghanistan look like in the future? A persuasive and informative narrative on Afghanistan is sorely missing.

Now if you're inclined to be cynical, this sounds very much like the defence forces arranging a strategic retreat, with a plan to pin the whole mess in Afghanistan on the politicians. Well I guess they had practice in the Vietnam days, where we coulda shoulda won ...

But who can forget all the generals that lined up, dressed up in their scrambled eggs and assorted gongs, to assure the public that all was going swimmingly well, the counter-terrorist strategy was a doozy, the hearts and minds were being won over, the country was being re-built, and soon enough there'd be a democracy where once there was a corrupt regime peddling drugs and building grass castles ...

Why the pond has dim memories of this farrago of nonsense being peddled in the last month ...

So all that bullshit, drip feed to the Australian community, has failed to produce a persuasive and informative narrative?

Well let the army just eat its humble pie General Leahy and admit it's been involved in a hopeless, useless operation from the start ... actively involved in the game because there's no better way to build a career than to see a little front line action ... and none of it amounting to a whit or jot of a winning strategy in Afghanistan ... no matter what David Kilcullen might have said and written over the years.

Oh yes this eating of humble pie could be a very satisfactory affair ...

Meanwhile, will the defence culture that buggered up the Skype affair and hundreds of other matters continue to flourish? You betcha, even if Smith has the courage to announce a Royal Commission to dig into the mess. Now there'd be a mess of humble pie ...

Mothers don't allow your daughters to grow up to be cowgirls, or hope professional boofhead footballers can behave like relationship gurus, or expect a fair go in the military ...

The current reaction - to blame it all on Smith and revile him - tells you precisely how much change will occur in the next few years arising from the scandal, the inquiry and the report.

Nil, zada, zilch, zip, nothing ...

Prepare yourself for the next set of military sex scandals Minister Smith, and make sure that humble pie is close at hand ...

(Below: more Nicholson here).


  1. David Rowe!

  2. Great Rowe!
    And today Laurie Oakes

    And he throws a lot more at Defence better known as Fort Fumble, and the Navy's amphibious efforts, and let's not mention the Collins class subs, or the current fighter acquisition follies ... or, and they have the cheek to have a go at Smith. Bah humbug the lot of them.


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