No wonder the pond's confused.
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Abbott and the Brandis depart;
And in every bigot's heart
The howls of rage do start ...
Or something like that, with apologies to Kipling.
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends
Then let's keep the 18C abusing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
Doing the Bolter thing
If that's all there is ...
Or something like that, with apologies to Peggy Lee.
Muzzled, abandoned, betrayal, treachery most foul.
Haters gunna hate, hapless Bolter gunna wince.
The pond suspects the Bolter will be poorer for this.
Heroes vanquished, Brandis done down, dirty deeds done cheap.
And what do the cowards do?
Who stands up to be counted on the ABC?
Why they send in the woman to explain.
Yes Brandis invisible, the Abbott nowhere to be seen, and she of the death stare cops the job on 7.30 here:
SARAH FERGUSON: Let's just go to the press conference this afternoon. The Prime Minister has dumped the push to repeal the race Discrimination Act today. Is that an election promise that's better broken?
JULIE BISHOP: The circumstances have changed. As the Prime Minister said, if we were drafting the Racial Discrimination Act from the outset we wouldn't have had the terminology used in 18C.
John Howard was in power for a decade. He even had a majority in both houses for a time. Where was the repeal then?
Oh okay, credit where credit is due:
Oh brave new world that has such people in't ...
Not the cornerstone snatched away!
How will the building stand?
After all the years of reptile hopes and dreams and speeches and stories and tweets, and the cornerstone is snatched away!
But are the reptiles in disarray?
Of course not. It's merely a technical problem. A mere distraction. A blip on the radar. An irritant. Not a cornerstone, more a decorative cornice or an over-blown Victorian plinth, or even a pimple.
Circumstances have changed. Promises were made, but promises haven't been broken.
But there's no doubt there's work to be done.
How to report this dismal backflip? How to put the best face on it? The shameless sound of the flip flop of thongs in the corridor of powers:
Oh yes they were incendiary. Someone had to put out the fire. Is there a firefighter in the house?
And who will sing the song of the firefighter?
Yes, there's a job to be done, so let's send in the knob polishers and the hagiographers,.
Is there anyone better to perform this heroic task than the bouffant one?
Indeed, indeed. To degut John Howard is indeed classic Howard.
To degut the Bolter and to celebrate the degutting in Murdoch rags is so much the richer.
And now, here's a recent portrait of a political barnacle:
What a lovely bookcase. And what a fine collection of books. Why there's Ming the Merciless himself to hand.
You can if you like, get around the paywall and read the whole hagiographic piece about the Savvy Abbott dumping the political barnacles if you like, but it's now clear, should go without saying, that George should henceforth be known as George "Barnacle" Brandis. Just as the pond had got used to and loved George "the bookcase man" Brandis ...
It turns out that the adept master is making the calls:
Howard was always prepared to make pragmatic, realistic and even cynical political decisions that embarrassed him or his government in the short term but were necessary in the longer term...
The Liberals’ most successful modern prime minister called it “cleaning off the barnacles” — removing distractions and obstacles that would slow the ship of state ahead of an election.
It is telling that Abbott’s backflip on amendments to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act — the so-called “Bolt laws” — has occurred a full month short of his first anniversary.
It is also not a coincidence.
Oh wise considered leader, oh skilled and stylish back flipper, with pike and twist. Oh barnacle scraper and killer.
But stay, honoured leader, will this mean that common folk think of you as a flip flopper? As an easy lay? Will they think that you've folded like a pack of cards in the wind? Will they wonder at all why so much time and energy was spent, with so little result, so much hostility and argument generated? Will they even - oh no, say it ain't so - think others might have been right?
Of course not. Completely preposterous. What a bizarre and absurd notion:
The racial discrimination changes have been in trouble ever since George Brandis, as Attorney-General and senior counsel, put a philosophical argument that it wasn’t against the law to be a bigot and so branded the changes as legalising “racism and bigotry”.
It may have been a legal argument acceptable at the Bar, but it wasn’t a political argument that could pass the pub test.
After months of concern, reconsideration in recent weeks and listening to concerns of his MPs, Abbott decided the time had come to dump the distraction and link it with the need to bring Australia’s “communities” with him on the terror laws.
The simple truth was that the legalising of racism, as Bill Shorten put it yesterday, was killing support for the Coalition in electorates where there were high numbers of migrants, Islamic or otherwise.
The proposed removal of the racial discrimination limits concerned indigenous leaders as well as civil libertarians.
Abbott is being condemned by the Greens and Labor for even thinking of the changes in the first place and facing a backlash of disappointment from conservatives who wanted the changes made as part of the rolling back of Labor’s cultural legacy.
Criticism from the Greens and Labor will only help Abbott reinforce his change of heart and those who are attacking from the other side will be faced with a sense of distorted priorities when it comes to the greater good on security changes with popular support. Abbott is showing he’s prepared to shift and has learned how to clean a hull.
And wipe the smirk from a Brandis...
Has there ever been a better epic poem? The modern slaying of a Grendel and a barnacle?
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes for just one day.
But what's this? It will help Abbott, and no one will notice the proposed changes to the terror laws, the desire to change long-standing legal traditions, and turn Australia into a surveillance police state?
Yep, there beats the heart of a true believer, a kool aid drinker, a fawner and a forelock tugger of the first water.
Every defeat snatched from the jaws of victory is a cause for celebration and mindless rhetoric.
Meanwhile, the cartoonists continue to have a field day:
(And more Rowe here)
It'll dawn on the reptiles slowly, but dawn it will, that this flip flop is just another betrayal, another bit of policy on the run, as jolly Joe toils over his budget, and the poodle wags his tail and the toff wears his fibre hat and ahoy there me hearties, pirates speaking in tongues and the woman is sent in to sell the terror laws ... and Abbott is just another cheap politician, easily panicked.
Clean the hull? What does that matter if the ship's the Titanic?
Naturally the Murdoch tabloids have studiously ignored the flip flop, the thongs the budgie smuggler favours. It's the arrival of the police state that's the cause for celebration:
Curious. That front page somehow reminded the pond of the cartoon in Jeff Sparrow's piece for Crikey yesterday, here, paywall affected:
Never mind, the reptiles are too busy plucking the mote out of the eye of Fairfax and Mike Carlton to notice the one in their own.
So where to next?
What Brand new set of policy initiatives will the Barnacle be given to sell?
Yep, it's time for a Pope cartoon, as each day brings fresh joy and laughter, so strong and in such gales, it might well lead to tears:
(And more Pope here)
That's how to sell the police state. Sure, even if he is a barnacle, Brandis couldn't sell a barnacle, but if we give him a cat, why anything's possible.
The pond is armed with popcorn. Bring on the show, and let's hope it's better than the money Film Victoria pissed against the wall on the making of Captain America (but that's another shocking, startling and shameless story - just be happy with the cat):