Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gerard Henderson on sandal wearers and sneering secularists, or how how Tony Abbott is really Bob Hawke ...

(Above: damned bearded, long-haired, hoodie-wearing, sandal-sporting, hippie nogoodnik. Get a job).

There's only one way to read Gerard Henderson's opening par in Supporters hope Abbott PM will be Fraser with teeth ...

He's slipping.

These days, Malcolm Fraser is much beloved by the left. As readers of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (which Fraser co-wrote with the leftist journalist Margaret Simons) will know, the former Liberal prime minister now receives standing ovations from sandal-wearing intelligentsia at taxpayer-subsidised literary festivals.

Sandal-wearing! That's a level of snidery that's right down there with Miranda the Devine in the tabloid Daily Terror, who led off her story The truth can be sweet as a nut graf thusly:

When sandal-wearing freelance journalist and prolific tweeter Margaret Simons told the print media inquiry newspapers had "hundreds" of journalists sitting around in their newsrooms, smirks and discreet eye rolls swept the ranks of working reporters.

It led to a sandal-gate moment, reported in We are all sandal wearers, with the twittering twit twittering:

@mirandadevine No @MargaretSimons! Journalists. Do. Not. Wear. Sandals! We are suffering enough in #mediainquiry without completely trashing our reputation

Now you can expect simplistic fear and loathing from the Devine, that's why she likes to hang greenies, but our prattling Polonius fancies himself as a cut above the average.

Sadly, when it comes to slapping sandal-wearers, our rambling Prufrock reveals himself to be steeped in mindless stereotypes of the most dullard anti-literary festival kind. No doubt Henderson is right on board with Campbell Newman in the axing of the Queensland literary awards - Awards axing a dark day for arts - because it's just an excuse for sandal-wearers to flock together, and $250k is both an invaluable contribution to the bottom line as well as a way of punishing the sandal wearers.

But I digress. You see the main business of Henderson, after idle abuse of the stereotypical, caricatured kind (right down there with the pond), is to praise Malcolm Fraser as the original negative Dr. No of Australian politics, and then celebrate Tony Abbott's current Dr. No status as the master of nattering negativity.

But of course this is only an excuse for Henderson to have a go at the eternal bee buzzing in his bonnet, the ABC.

There's something deeply, profoundly unhealthy about all this. Henderson seems to spend every waking minute listening to the ABC, when by rights he should be off listening to his mates, who agree with him in every way. Shock jocks like Alan Jones, or Ray Hadley or Chris Smith or their substitutes. It's hard to remember the last time Henderson celebrated commercial radio, not when the ABC's there to listen to and to bag:

Jonathan Green, the presenter of ABC RN's Sunday Extra, is one of a bevy of leftists who have recently acquired presenter positions at the ABC. On ABC News Breakfast last Thursday, Green ran the familiar leftist mantra that "Tony Abbott is a total dud that everyone hates but he's going to be prime minister because the other lot are just such an incompetent rabble".

Perhaps if you're to the right of Genghis Khan, Green is one of a bevy of leftists, but actually Jonathan Green is a journalist who as editor of The Drum has routinely published a bevy of right wing opinion, most notably from the Institute of Public Affairs, a secretive, furtive and mysterious group of lobbyists working for well-heeled but anonymous masters.

But none of this will get you off the hook with Henderson, who can spot a rabid leftie surer than a rabid bloodhound, especially if said alleged leftie states the bleeding obvious, which is to note that along with the federal government being on the nose, Tony Abbott is also on the nose with a vast number of the Australian electorate.

Henderson gets exceptionally indignant when hapless Billy Snedden - a tireless man who died on the job - is dragged into the debate:

Green, citing Australian Financial Review journalist Geoff Kitney, went on to claim that Abbott's net approval rating is minus 17 and "that compares with the great minus approval ratings of history like Billy Snedden who copped a minus 30 at one point".

Henderson gets most indignant, contending that Billy was a lightweight, and of course Tony Abbott in contrast is a heavyweight labouring under unpopularity numbers right up or down there with ... Malcolm Fraser.

It never occurs to Henderson to mention that as a result of coming to power through his nattering negativity, and by rough-house means, the Fraser years are now judged as a failure, even by Liberal party devotees - why even prattling Polonius himself - and if Abbott keeps imitating Fraser, he's likely to be judged in the same way.

Instead Henderson wheels on his other bĂȘte noire Robert Manne, because you see, Manne has dared to write a soft piece about Malcolm Turnbull for The Monthly (but you'll need to pay if you go here to be mortally offended by Manne and Turnbull).

Naturally Henderson can spot a conspiracy at ten paces:

Clearly Manne believes Turnbull should be Australia's alternative prime minister. What's lacking in the piece is any sense of self-awareness. Why should Liberal MPs, or indeed Coalition voters, care that a self-confessed Greens voter such as Manne believes Abbott should be dumped as opposition leader?

Indeed. And why should any independent voter share Henderson's peculiar belief that Abbott should be kept as opposition leader so in due course he can fuck up Australia with his peculiar mix of rag-tag policies? Is blind faith the only way forward?

Poor Henderson has to deal with all the nay-sayers surrounding his hero and his policies, and smite them mightily. It turns out Abbott is likely to lead Australia towards nirvana. And in the process Henderson perfectly reveals the glass jaw and the Achille's heel of his hero:

Abbott has been consistently underestimated by many political opponents and commentators alike. He was an able cabinet minister, who understood the need for expenditure restraint, in the highly competent Howard government.

To say this of course you have to overlook Abbott's time as Health Minister, and to forget that during his time in the Howard government, he was only at his best when he was both an attack dog and a bomb thrower. When it came to actual policies, as Health Minister Abbott was a ditherer, and a tragic Catholic ideologue (remember RU-486), and a willing follower of Howard into a mess of things.

If Abbott's recent idea of expenditure restraint was to offer Andrew Wilkie a billion dollar hospital as a way to buy power, then we can look forward to more boondoggle times right up there with the grand drama surrounding Mersey hospital in Tasmania back in 2007 in the final fluttering failures of the doomed Howard government (Tas Health Minister angered by Mersey delay suggestions).

And how about another weakness? Oh yes, it has to involve sneering secularists:

It is fashionable for sneering secularists and sectarians alike to mock Abbott's Catholic faith. In fact, he is a traditional Catholic who believes in human imperfection, forgiveness and eventual redemption. Abbott is no fanatic and is not without personal doubt.

Why they must be the same sneering secularists who were astonished to hear Cardinal Pell last night declare himself to be an actual literal cannibal, routinely eating the flesh of Christ and drinking his blood, in a style Transylvanian vampires would envy.

But what's the point of sneering at sneering secularists in the sneering Henderson style? If believe in human redemption is the point, how about a little human redemption and the right to marry for Abbott's gay sister? Would fanaticism deny her even that right to share in common humanity?

It's a measure of the man that Henderson apparently shares the same delusion, unless of course he is not without personal doubt. What a pity that personal doubt never seems to affect a fanatical devotion to Tony Abbott, or the notion that his policies walk on water.

Never mind, Henderson wraps it all up with a personal testament in favour of Abbott the redeemer, and it's quite an amazing comparison:

Quite a few Liberals and commentators believed Labor's Bob Hawke did not have the discipline to be a political leader. He became one of Australia's most successful prime ministers.

Yep, Tony Abbott might well become ... Bob Hawke. Oh wash out your mouth with soap Hendo, what a stupendously silly comparison to make, and what delusionary straws you clutch at. But do go on:

Today, it is fashionable to label Abbott, in Green's words, a "total dud". This analysis is not supported by a scrutiny of the Opposition Leader's political resume.

Uh huh. Provided you scrutinise the political resume with only one eye (you might find an eye-patch helpful if you want to imitate Gerard).

The pond's perfectly willing to bet that within twelve months of Abbott being swept into power, there will be mischief in the back benches, disarray, and eventually a leadership challenge, as the total dud gets dudded by his fearful colleagues.

That's the way it is in politics, and that's certainly the way it will be with Abbott, a bomb thrower who is surely going to turn into a dud, a squid, a jumping jack which once it's jumped up and down for a little while, will turn into an Oscar Wilde sky-rocket languishing in the mud ... right up or down there with Malcolm Fraser during his failed reign.

But who knows, in due course, Abbott might well then retire to write his memoirs with some sandal wearer. And who knows, Gerard Henderson might even have taken to wearing sandals by then ...

(Below: give me some spinach laced with negativity).

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