Sunday, April 07, 2013

How to get from Watergate to Animal Farm, thanks to Tony Walker ...

And another thing.

The pond would just like to pay a particular tribute to Tony Walker, writing from a national perspective for the AFR for this truly international perspective.

Unfortunately Gillard can help make up for lost time in China is behind the paywall, but it features a couple of classic journalistic techniques. Like:

On the face of it Julia Gillard and the late Richard Nixon may not have a lot in common ...


On the face of it Tony Walker and Joseph Goebbels may not have a lot in common, but since you've mentioned the resemblance, can the pond spend a little time brooding about their shared propensity for gibberish?

On the face of it Tony Walker and Lavrentiy Beriya may not have a lot in common, but since you've mentioned it, please allow the pond to paint a remarkable portrait of shared similarities. For starters, Beria couldn't see the future, and it turns out in Australia contemplates a Romney victory that Walker doesn't have much of a skill at prediction either.

This sort of shabby stuff is the last refuge of the desperate journalist in search of a desperate metaphor, and yet it happens in these uncertain days all the time, and worst of all, indulged in by senior journalists in allegedly superior papers demanding $3.30, inc GST, for their weekend editions.

It's gossamer thread stuff, and immediately the comparison is made, it has to be dismissed out of hand:

Gillard faces no Watergate-like terminal condition at home as far as we know, but her grip on power beyond a proclaimed September 14 election is hardly more secure than Nixon's own tenure back in 1974.

Indeed, and it might also be said that so far as we know Walker faces no Watergate-like terminal condition at home, but it might well be said - the pond couldn't comment on it, no matter how politely you ask - that the AFR's grip on its subscribers is hardly more secure than Nixon's own tenure back in 1974, if this is the sort of simple-minded tosh it intends to serve up as political commentary.

Of course if Walker had a cultural bone in his body, he probably would have dragged the bones of Philip Glass's opera Nixon in China out of the closet (there's five minutes of badly recorded music at YouTube here). Or if he'd been of an age - he looks of an age - he'd have begun blathering about Gough Whitlam going to China.

The thing is, the pond is mad as hell at superficial, lazy political writing, with this sort of simplistic knife-thrusting going down.

The opposition did its level best to drag Gillard down to the level of a common Watergate criminal over the union matter, and failed in its attempt, and this cheap, surly dragging in of Watergate and Nixon is just the same, in body and soul, and as beneath indifference as the negative nattering of Tony Abbott.

Even worse, in the very same edition, the rag featured the mentally stockinged Alexander Downer, a bubble headed booby who expends an enormous number of words on the situation in North Korea, only to conclude that we should be alert but not alarmed.

How is it possible to read Alexander Downer and not be alarmed? Shouldn't he be explaining how North Korea has WMD, and we should be invading immediately, for the safety of western civilisation as we know it?

Or is he simply a stockinged bully, ready to stand behind the deputy sheriff and propose that everything that happened in Iraq was for the best for everybody?

Happily Be alert to North Korea but not alarmed is behind the paywall, but it raises the alarming prospect, the spectre, that Downer is rapidly turning into the cockroach of digital foreign affairs commentary. No longer contained within the Adelaide Advertiser, he's turning up everywhere in Fairfax ...

Just when you thought a roach bomb, or at least the vote in a general election, had consigned Downer to history, there he is yammering away with truisms and cliches, as if he'd never gone away.

Mind you, I was discomfited by the fact that on getting into the car after meeting the president I ripped the seat of my trousers. It said it all. Things were not going well.

Too much useless bloody information Mr. Downer, way too much. Things didn't go well in Iraq either, and on a more serious level than a tear in Dooona's trooosers.

Still the rag provided one item of gossip worth recycling, courtesy of The Prince.

At the IPA bash, the Rineharts - Gina and Ginia - were seated with keynote speaker Chairman Rupert and daughter Prue MacLeod (no Alasdair?), News Ltd chief Kim Williams, Murdoch chief of staff Natalie Ravitz, and .... climate change denialist Ian Plimer ...

... with Ginia wildly excited at her prize, which wasn't watching paint dry, but was watching the Bolter tape an episode of The Bolt Report, no doubt featuring the Bolter doing his favourite climate denialism routines...

... while Tony Abbott spent his time sucking up to Rinehart, promising to abolish anything to do with climate science, and develop northern Australia ...

And meanwhile Tony Walker has the nerve to drag in Watergate and Nixon ...

Fair suck of the raw prawn.

Perhaps next time Mr Walker you could start your story about Tony Abbott with that fine moment in Orwell's Animal Farm where the pigs sit down together for a feast to celebrate the birth of Manor Farm and the abolition of "comrade" and the strange custom of marching past a boar's skull:

He (Mr Pilkington of News Ltd) would end his remarks, he said, by emphasising once again the friendly feelings that subsisted, and ought to subsist, between Animal Farm and its climate denialist neighbours. Between pigs and human beings there was not, and there need not be, any clash of interests whatever. Their struggles and their difficulties were one. Was not the labour problem the same everywhere? Here it became apparent that Mr. Pilkington was about to spring some carefully prepared witticism on the company, but for a moment he was too overcome by amusement to be able to utter it. After much choking, during which his various chins turned purple, he managed to get it out: “If you have your lower animals to contend with,” he said, “we have our lower classes!” This BON MOT set the table in a roar; and Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm.

Two dollars a day, folks, if you please!

“Gentlemen,” concluded Napoleon, “I will give you the same toast as before, but in a different form. Fill your glasses to the brim. Gentlemen, here is my toast: To the prosperity of The Manor Farm!” There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover’s old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. 
But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away. But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. 
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which climate denialist was which.

Well it makes as much sense as dragging in a reference to Richard Nixon and Watergate because Julia Gillard's gone to China for a short visit.

On the face of it, the comparison makes no sense at all, and when you dig below the face of it, it still makes no sense of it at all, unless of course Tony Walker is facing a terminal criminal condition which so far as we know is currently unknown to the pond...

But dammit if that IPA bash didn't bear a very close proximity to the bash in Animal Farm ...

Meanwhile, we have a loon out there comparing the Australian economy to the situation in Cyprus.

Yes, yes, he actually did. You can read about the shades of Cyprus here.

Shades of Cyprus!

We're all ruined, and who will be able to buy the climate denialists a decent nosh up dinner?

There you go Mr. Walker, there's a metaphor for you:

On the face of it, the Australian and the Cyprus economies may not have a lot in common ... but since you mention it, have you noticed the similarities between Watergate, Richard Nixon, Cyprus, Anastasiades, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and the Australian economy ...

(Below: it seems there's a shared taste in black, whether black clothes or black coal)

(oh heck and just because we like it, a slightly larger view of that portrait, with its overtones of Manor Farm)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.