Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. (Winnie it here)
Now forget Bob Ellis turning up in The Gympie Times, announcing the end of the world is nigh. Poor Bob has always been inclined to tales of the apocalypse since the Cuban missile crisis. And things are always a bit slow in Gympie.
But the hounds of the Fairfaxians have found a spot on the moors they can return to whenever they need to troll for a hit - like Tony Abbott says Malcolm Turnbull isn't after his job.
And so it begins, the relentless dripping away on the drip, with every story - from a meal in a Chinese restaurant to performance anxiety about a wink - refracted through the eye of a leadership storm.
Just remember the denials, which even the reptiles ran with just a week or so ago:
Mr Abbott, who is under pressure amid a public backlash over his first budget, this morning answered questions about his leadership saying the electorate was “sick of governments that change their leaders mid-term”.
“What we need in this party right now is not an action replay of the last six years,” Mr Abbott told the Nine Network.
“Neither Kevin Rudd nor Julia Gillard made it from one election to the next — I don’t think the Australian people want to see a repeat performance.” (the reptiles reporting, here)
And so it goes. Denial after denial, with the man forced to guess the collective mood of the Australian people, as if polls aren't much of a guide ...
How desperate is it? How far have we already gone down the track with idle water cooler chat?
Well when you've got the prattling Polonius himself scribbling Populist attacks can make Abbott stronger (behind the paywall so no one has to listen or care), it's truly desperate times, because in defending Abbott, Polonius reminds the world that the leadership is at issue.
Sure Polonius does his best to distract.
After berating the ABC, Mark Scott, public servants, Jon Faine, the greenies, Virginia Triole, Michael Rowland, the Fairfaxians, and Lee Rhiannon - such a flock of tired old bees buzzing relentlessly around in Hendo's hive mind - he saw signs of hope.
That evening, Abbott attended the Australian Book Industry Awards in Sydney. Louise Adler, president of the Australian Publishers Association, introduced him with a professional address appropriate for the occasion. The Prime Minister performed very well in front of an audience that was polite, but evidently resentful. He gives the impression of being better equipped to handle opprobrium than his recent predecessors.
Uh huh. Keep that one in mind, and now back to the distractions:
The most amusing criticism of the Prime Minister has come from Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, who followed her Stalinist parents Bill and Freda Brown into the Socialist Party of Australia in the 1970s. At the time, the SPA was the pro-Soviet Union branch in Australia of the international communist movement. Rhiannon refuses to provide details of who paid for her study at the Lenin International School in Moscow in 1977, during the time of Leonid Brezhnev’s totalitarian dictatorship. But the Greens senator maintains that the fact one of the Prime Minister’s daughters won a scholarship at a private institute in Melbourne raises issues concerning ethics. Really.
Already some commentators are predicting Abbott will lose the leadership in a partyroom ballot or that he will lead the Coalition to defeat at the next election scheduled for late 2016. Maybe. Or maybe not. As the joke goes, it is unwise to make prophecies, especially about the future.
Uh huh. But as the old joke goes, at one point or another every rooster becomes a feather duster.
The fine art is to judge when it's time to pluck the rooster.
And so even Polonius can't help himself and must talk about the leadership, and the time when the rooster will be plucked ... and yet ... and yet ... hope must surge to the surface in any uxorious scribbler, heart full of hope and yearning for manly strength ...
Yet, maybe, despite broken promises and all that, the Australian population reluctantly accepts that the country needs a strong personality who is unfazed by abuse.
You know, like German needed a good springtime with a strong leader (oh okay the Godwin's Law swear jar needed a kick start).
As Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson pointed out in April, when Labor left office after six budget deficits there were a further 10 deficits in prospect. That kind of economic scenario will not be resolved by someone who wants to be loved.
Abbott’s one unchallenged characteristic, at this stage of his prime ministership, is a perceived and real strength.
Uh huh. Kraft durch Freude! (in for a Godwin's penny, in for a pound).
Google some images using that phrase, you'll be so glad you did:
But you know that one could bounce back on you, as it did on Margaret Thatcher. And others ...
Uh huh. It was war time, death and killing were celebrated.
But now we're in a dire national emergency, a budget crisis of the first water. Will feeble talk of income tax cuts save the rooster? How can we afford them in this time of crisis? Should we just burn off the feathers, and plunk him in the roast?
Do the pitbulls smell blood? Is there a whiff of fear in the air?
Uh huh. And what was that Polonius said about perceived and real strength, and a tough guy better equipped to handle opprobrium?
Guess what the reptiles counter-attacked with?
Harden the fuck up man, Gerard Henderson won't tolerate that sort of bleating, wimpy carry-on. What we need is strength and toughness, or the next thing you know someone will be saying:
'If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen'.
Truman that phrase here, where you'll also find this excellent quote:
"I didn't fire him [Chrisotpher Pyne] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, always shooting his mouth off, but that's not against the law for federal Liberal politicians. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail."
Or some such thing.
Quick, someone mention Brezhnev again. Let's keep the conversation relevant, contemporary and NOW.
Oh and maybe hope no one calls a Royal Commission into your bad choice of boyfriends ...
(Below: and a few cartoons, as featured, with First Dog on The Insiders. Catch up on that segment, here).