(Above: and Moir here).
The pond means no offence to TG folk, but it seems, magically, that Tony Abbott has become Julia Gillard ...
No doubt a circuit breaker was necessary, no doubt it was an interesting strategy to whip up a press conference at short notice and invite all comers to fire their best shots, but it was eerily reminiscent of the way Gillard tackled all those questions about her union past.
And it's had the same consequence. Just as Gillard became the question, and the subject of the conversation, so everyone - even the trendy hipsters at the gulag in Surry Hills - is chattering about Abbott.
It's not just the pond - which tries to avoid an Abbott fixation - think of the grotesque nightmares - it's the reptiles too.
Look, down in the bottom left hand side, at the story of yet another unhappy personal rating:
Okay, the numbers are down, but why did Phillip Hudson have to scribble this?
Today’s poll continues that trend and, worse for the government, voter satisfaction with Tony Abbott has crashed back to the dim levels of the aftermath of the May budget, when he was under fire for breaking promises and making unfair cuts.
Abbott, who reached five years as Liberal leader yesterday and is the fourth longest serving after Robert Menzies, John Howard and Malcolm Fraser, is putting his faith in a Howard-like recovery. “Let’s not forget the Howard government had a pretty rocky first term,” the Prime Minister volunteered yesterday as he defended his government while admitting it had appeared “ragged” last week. “The Howard government was in a diabolical position at different periods in the first term and yet it recovered to win its second term and then went on to be arguably the most successful post-war government Australia has had.”
He is urging voters to look beyond the “soap opera” and “atmospherics” that oppositions exploit and to feel the “substance” of what he says has been a year of “very considerable achievement”.
It’s what Julia Gillard used to say when Abbott ripped into her government so effectively.
Oh no, not Julia.
Sure, Hudson went on to reassure the readers of the reptiles that it was a long game, and the election was still far away, and recovery was possible, but to read the poll runes, and then invoke Gillard ...it's too much.
On and on the references came. There was Mark Kenny penning Shaken Abbott has uphill battle to win back voters' trust (with forced video):
Australia's most percussively negative opposition leader, dubbed "Dr No" for his relentless pursuit of the former government, Abbott has banked zero credits in the pluralism and goodwill account of national politics.
And it gets sharper still because the rampaging opposition leader specifically ruled out using changed budget circumstances to justify breaking promises.
Now he wants precisely that room.
When Julia Gillard's government faced serious revenue write-downs, Abbott offered no comfort, no understanding.
Now he characterises an opposition pursuing a similar approach as "wreckers".
Voters see through it.
Oh okay, in this telling of the tale, Abbott is more the Ancient Mariner and Gillard the albatross:
Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Gillardtross
About my neck was hung
Now it's rude of the pond to interrupt Kenny in his rant, but rant he did:
They also see through Abbott's catch-all justification for not keeping other promises – namely that his motherhood pledge had been to fix the budget.
If this is to be accepted, it should be the perfect justification for dropping or at least scaling back his Paid Parental Leave scheme.
All the old memes got dragged back into the open and Abbott became yet again the story:
There were a few polite souls that refrained from mentioning Gillard - like Lenore Taylor with Everywhere Tony Abbott turns, there's a barrier he placed there himself (yes, the pond isn't a fan of the Graudian's new dumbed down look for internet dummies). But still the talk was of Abbott and his folly:
As the prime minister said, in the end “substance trumps atmospherics”. But his reset was all about the atmospherics, because on most of the substance, he seems to be snookered.
Still it was good for the hits. The Graudian scored over 600 comments for this piece, Abbott admits he broke ABC cuts promise: and says 'buck stops with me':
How astonishing does it get? Please allow the pond to cite Paul Bongiorno this morning on RN reminding everyone how for years Abbott berated others for broken promises, and then yesterday begged the newly elected Victorian government to break a key election promise, one it had put front and centre as almost a referendum-style issue.
So dumb ...
So now all the rhetoric sticks with Abbott. First it was the barnacles sticking to him, and now it's the buck, and all the assorted hypocrisies and convoluted logic that comes with the buck ...
And what was the very first comment out of the gate on that Graudian story?
Isn't it amazing. When Julia Gillard was elected with a minority government in 2010, and she passed a price on carbon saying that when circumstances change the government has to change with it, and what did our Tony say then. Called her a liar for 3 years, vilified her and repeatedly called for an election. Now he has used her words (plagerised ) to tell us all he is a liar, and he is telling us how he is courageous. No he is just a liar and a pathetic one at that, yesterday he made fools of all those people who voted for him, lets hope next election they won't be so gullible.
And around his neck the Gillardtross was hung ...
But it's not just the cardigan-wearers at the Graudian getting agitated.
The reptiles at the Oz are also maintaining the rage.
Oh sure, the master hagiographer, the consummate forelock tugger, the devout knob polisher was busy:
But even he was sounding stumped by a government "swamped in mixed messages and images of barnacles":
While part of the recent reappraisal of tactics has led to Abbott being more aggressive, it is still considered better if Dutton, Christopher Pyne or Scott Morrison take the fight directly to Labor in parliament.
Even as he spoke, even as he assured everyone the buck stopped with him, they were wrapping him in cotton wool and hiding him in the closet, at least until the smell of the Gillardtross faded?
Even the kool-aid swigging and swilling reptile editorialist wasn't sounding that cheerful about Five years on, Abbott tries to reboot and re-engage (outside the paywall).
How's this for an opening blast?
A so-called “ragged week” matters little in the sweep of a term in office, but Tony Abbott marked his fifth anniversary as Liberal leader by using the shambles of last week as a pretext for an expansive media conference where he tried to reset the tone of his administration. Truth be known, the real impetus stems from a realisation his poorly framed and chaotically positioned budget and imperceptible communications plan have left the government languishing in the opinion polls. Few governments in recent history could point to the substantial first-term achievements of the Abbott team, yet few have appeared so aimless on the core questions of budgetary implementation and political marketing. “It’s been a year when this government has demonstrated guts and commitment and strength of character on a whole host of issues,” Mr Abbott said. The Coalition doesn’t lack achievements, it is more that the failings are in such crucial spheres.
Let's not argue about the alleged achievements, let's just note the use of the word "chaotic" and move on to the question of being a liar:
Importantly, the Prime Minister ’fessed up over broken promises; not as a mea culpa but more an attempt to be upfront with the electorate — to stop treating voters like fools. “I accept that what we are doing with the ABC is at odds with what I said immediately prior to the election,” he said, “but things have moved on, circumstances are different.” This frankness would have served him better, earlier, sparing the nation some verbal gymnastics in the interim. Still, he made a similar attempt to come clean retrospectively over the debt levy. “So, yes, you could say that that’s not in compliance with our pre-election commitments,” he said. “But again, under the circumstances, I would say it was a perfectly reasonable and fair thing to do.” Aside from the broken promise, the inherent mistake of the debt levy was the way it pandered to the so-called “fairness” debate, setting up the budget to be judged on fairness grounds — an impossible criteria when reducing government spending will, by definition, hit those who receive funds rather than those who provide them.
As this newspaper has argued, these straitened times are not fitting to start a generous paid parental leave scheme — and a levy to fund it. Mr Abbott has a point about how such a backflip would be received. “On the one hand,” he told the press pack, “you are inviting me to change a policy that we took to two elections and, on the other hand, you’re ever vigilant to damn the government for broken promises.” The way to avoid these dilemmas is to resist unrealistic promises.
In short, a liar, a blowhard, and a fool, and curiously the reptiles began to sound exactly like Lenore Taylor in The Graudian, a feat the pond would have once thought impossible.
He cannot expect his government’s case to be heard if his ministers are not making it daily. The key player here must be the Treasurer but he has been all but invisible in past weeks and only a sporadic performer since the budget. If he wants to take the public with him, Joe Hockey needs to tell us where he is going. Paul Keating and Peter Costello were relentless spruikers of policy who sought opportunities to make stump speeches and argue their corner every day. It is no use relying on the good graces of the press gallery or on the perceived logic of your budget papers; in the end the art of political persuasion is about hard work. Mr Hockey did rather well in parliament yesterday but needs to win the economic debate every day. Each day he sails off message or is silent is a day he lets down his Prime Minister and the government. If he is not hungry enough for the task, he should hand over to Malcolm Turnbull. The stakes are too high for mediocre efforts or for Mr Abbott to run his second best team.
Stop right there. The reptiles are proposing that big Mal get the gig as Treasurer?
Why that's roughly equivalent to God sending Christ into exile and appointing Satan to run the Garden of Eden ...
Nobody told the pond that there'd be days like these, strange days indeed ... everybody's running but nobody makes a move ...
But as always, there's an upside. The cartoonists are doing great business.
More Cathy Wilcox here:
And David Rowe did an excellent riff on shadow boxing and Monty Python's self-wrestling joke, and more Rowe here:
All this is well and good, but now Abbott is the barnacle which stops the buck, and now he's moaning about the Senate and whining about a feral opposition, and it's pathetic to behold, risible, laughable ...
He is the conversation, though it's not even the risible contradictions in his risible policies - like sending a price signal to fund medical research rather than fix the budget - but now his twists and turns in the wind, and his follies ...
And now the reptiles are suggesting big Mal would make a good treasurer, and at that moment an old 2010 Bill Leak cartoon came back to haunt the pond.
Leak long ago seems to have lost his sensa huma - there's only so much kool aid you can drink at Chris Mitchell's table before it happens - but this one was unnerving as a prophecy:
Which is why the pond apologised to its TG friends in advance ... but look at it this way.
If Abbott becomes half the woman Julia Gillard was in government, and subsequently in her bullying at the hands of a witch hunt Royal Commission, why he might just develop a tougher hide, and not whine about the senate and moan about a feral opposition, and he just might become a better politician....