Kevin For President!
I watched Kevin Rudd’s press conference today. It was a remarkable performance. I didn’t expect to be roused by it, but it was quite the rousing gee-up. I don’t know if I should be surprised or not, after all Kevin Rudd in full flight is capable of some pretty emotive speechifying, and getting off the first plane back from Washington DC seemed like as good a time as any to launch into one of his special speechifying moments. He has a soaring kind of flare in his rhetoric and his perspective is decent and big.
It was also interesting because he worked backwards from a problematic like some Roman orator in the ancient Senate. The problem stems from the simple fact that the Opposition Leader is Tony Abbott – arch-conservative nutjob – and the nation might have to end up with Tony Abbott in the lodge, thanks mostly to Julia Gillard not winning. When you put it like that, it’s not just an emergency for Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd or any faction of the ALP, it’s freaking national emergency! And so, like Scipio or Pompey the Great, he’s promising to go vanquish the cultural barbarian (yes, Tony Abbott, that’s you) on behalf of all of us.
That’s why I’m here today, because I believe that to do the best for Australia and Labor, things have to change. It’s no secret that our government has a lot of work to do if it is to regain the confidence of the Australian people. Rightly or wrongly, Julia has lost the trust of the Australian people, and starting on Monday, I want to start restoring that trust. That’s why I’ve decided to contest the leadership of the Australian Labor Party, at the ballot in the caucus of the Australian Labor Party on Monday.
Well, my fellow Australians, that there is an announcement Kevin is running to be the first President of Australia. Of course, that’s not how our system works, so you wonder how effective this construction is, given that it is aimed squarely at Caucus.
If I might add at this juncture, a good many of this Caucus is in the Senate, so a good many of Caucus could rightly be called (or re-called) unrepresentative swill, for if they don’t vote for Kevin on Monday, they’re going against the will of the people. Stick that in your history books Nicola Roxon.
Until Kevin came out with his statement, I spent the morning quite morose because it was obvious by the deafening silence that Tony Abbott and his Liberal Party colleagues were just enjoying this in the glorious comfort of being totally uninvolved; and of course they are going to be the net beneficiaries of this ugly fracas. So, I was sitting there thinking “bloody hell, it’s going to be a Tony Abbott Liberal Government all because the Australian Labor Party would much rather have faction fights than do what’s right. This is a long way away from the days of Hawke-Keating, even though people are trying to use that as a model. Kevin Rudd says he won’t be challenging a second time:
Question: Mr Rudd if you lose on Monday how would you channel your passion for policy from the backbench?
Rudd: Well there’s a great tradition in politics in many countries for this being done. If you look at the older history of this country and various individuals have served as prime minister in one position or another they have continued to contribute in the public policy debate. Similarly in the United Kingdom they’ve done the same as well from the back bench or other positions on the front bench over time. I’m quite relaxed about that. What are my passions? Australia’s future in the world and how we carve out a future for a country such as ours in a very uncertain environment. Plenty of opportunities to shape the national debate on that. I’d also say I’m pretty passionate about my local community. My local community is something which means a lot to me. It’s where we have all had our being and it’s our place that we call home and we intend to stay there.
Question: If you go to the backbench would you rule out being drafted at some stage as opposed to challenging?
Rudd: I will go back to exactly to what I said before, I think it’s very clear-cut what I have said, I don’t propose to add to it.
Thus the point is, if any of the MPs are hoping for a second shot at a Rudd challenge to Julia Gillard in 6 months time, don’t bother. This is it. Monday is do-or-die for the party, thanks to Kevin Rudd, no, really thank you very much Kevin Rudd. Ouch.
So the reason you would vote for Julia Gillard is not because she did the stuff she did, but because you think she’s going to beat Tony Abbott. The reason to vote for Kevin is because he’s a better bet to beat Tony Abbott. If you put it that way, I can’t see why loyalty would mean so much that you’d lose your job over it. Dump Julia now!
Remember Obama vs. Clinton?
I’ll get hate mail again, but if I don’t say it, I’ll regret it. Here’s one from an ‘unreconstructed male chauvinist pigs’, to all the ‘unreconstructed male chauvinist pigs’ out there.
There’s been this asinine commentary that says Kevin Rudd’s no good with women. The nutshell version is that all the women in Caucus are supporting Gillard, therefore he must be shit with women. i.e he’s some kind of sexist shit.
If you think about it, it’s hard to imagine some of these women not lining up with Julia Gillard because Julia Gillard’s Prime Minister-ship represents the great feminist agenda come to fruition. Whatever her faults, she’s the pinnacle of that movement’s success. I cannot for the life of me imagine the likes of Kate Ellis, Nicola Roxon, Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Sharon Bird, and Jenny Macklin walking away from that Quota Affirmation agenda.
The other thing that should be noted is the spitfire barrage that came from Maxine McKew today. It doesn’t seem like Maxine had too much trouble working with Kevin Rudd – but hey Maxine McKew comes from the ABC where genuine meritocracy actually was the way things went. You sure don’t win a Walkley Award on the Quota Affirmation agenda. So Kate Ellis and Nicola Roxon – who have been vocally trashing Kevin Rudd in the press – can stick Maxine McKew’s resume in the objectivity pipe and have a good smoke. Ladies, it’s bad form to be playing the gender card and pretending it’s not on the table. If I played the race card that way, you’d seethe at it at every turn pointing at my genitals reminding me I’m male (which is the way all these discussions went in the 1980s and 1990s).
All of this brought back memories of the denouement of Hilary Clinton’s campaign to be the Democrat candidate for the Presidency back in 2008. She started as the front runner but slowly found herself falling behind the more charismatic Barack Obama, who in the end beat her by a long stretch. Afterward there were huge recriminations from the feminist camp about it, but the polling numbers simply said Obama being black and charismatic was more important than Clinton being white, female and not as charismatic.
I think we have exactly the same situation except Kevin Rudd isn’t black – instead, he’s an egghead from Queensland, which makes him a kind of minority all of its own. At the end of the day, what the 30% electoral support for Julia Gillard means is that the merits of Julia Gillard as seen by the feminists just isn’t translating to blokes or the unwashed masses in the middle and the manicured upper crust entitled. She might be the politically correct (and therefore ‘right’) candidate for the Canberra insiders, but that’s exactly her problem. The wider community just isn’t going to get that.