The Rehabillitation

Michael Gordon wrote this morning:

It is a measure of the immense level of faith and hope that is still invested in Turnbull that, each time, there has been a tendency to rationalise the setbacks as part of some cunning plan that will deliver later on

Clear thinkers will notice Mr Gordon taking one step away from “The Media”…  i.e. “that Media, over there”. They may not think we’ve noticed it, but the first stage of the self-rehabilitation of media commentators is to refer – obliquely or directly – to the media, as if they are not part of it.

Hartcher does this all the time. And now many more are doing so in regards to Bill Shorten, the latest being Gordon.

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We all mocked Lenore Taylor (of all people!) saying that the State Income Tax brainfart was so stupid that it MUST have been part of some overarching strategy that Turnbull had in his genius head, which we mere mortals could only begin to guess at. So Lenore guessed, and The Insiders all nodded sagely. It was a brilliantly oblique move to make fools of the Premiers, while making a fool of himself. Something Malcolm must have been been workshopping, honing and mulling over for months.

Except he forgot to tell ScoMo, and the Treasury mob, who presumably were about to be asked to tear up Budget 2016, Draft No. 7 to make it seem like a plan. And all less than a month before B-Day (early B-Day, that is).

Funny wasn’t it? This was the exact spruik that came out first thing next day, this time from the mouths of Liberal MPs at doorstops, as justification for the waste of an entire COAG premiers’ meeting. It was their Talking Point for the day (and that’s about as long as it lasted, such was its brilliance). Oh well, onto the next investment opportunity.

Either Lenore and The Insiders inspired them, or it was the other way round. Whatever, it shows that incest is not yet a dead art when it comes to political commentary.

It was Lenore, reportedly a “good journalist”, still keeping the faith that Turnbull is a tactical and political savant: the person best suited (in view of ScoMo’s comments on Shortens actual suits, literally “best suited”) to govern Australia.

But Lenore is a fading breed. Even Elizabeth Faralley of the SMH – she of “Prime Minister For Life: Malcolm Turnbull” fame – is backing off.

It’s a process of gradual and complete reversal of opinion, that the Press Gallery bozos think the mob won’t notice. Well, I and many others here, noticed straightaway, right from the start.

There was also another column this morning by some SMH numpty called Tom Allard: No more zingers: Shorten finds his voice at last. It was one of the most repulsively condescending pieces I’ve ever read on Bill Shorten, or any other politician.

It lasciviously covered all “the usual suspects” – Shorten’s low personal rating, the almost impossibility of him ever winning a chook raffle, much less an election, the “Albanese Challenge”, “anonymous party sources” talking-down Shorten’s ability to do anything at all, regulation references to Shaun Micallef’s”brilliant” comedy routines lampooning Shorten’s zingers etc. etc – and ascribed his apparent revival path in the minds of the ordinary punters down to conjurer’s tricks: a voice coach (who just happens to be a maddy who sings in funny voices), and slick political salesmen (read “tricksters”) in the background who are pulling the real strings… plus, of course, Turnbull’s inexplicable gaffathon of the past two months.

See? It’s nothing that Bill Shorten did himself: it’s other people… voice coaches, spivs and spin doctors, and the Enlightened One From Point Piper not quite being on top of his game lately.

No credit was given for the very sensible policy of letting your enemy shadow box with himself and slash his own political wrists, rather than deflect attention by the Abbott-like “Lookatmoi! Lookatmoi!” tactic. No reference was made to history, i.e. that Turnbull is known far and wide as a know-all brainfarter from way back who has never successfully led any kind of political movement in his life (as opposed to Shorten, who’s made every post in his career a winner), and that some of the voting class just might be aware, or might become aware of this.

No reference was made to the fact that you can’t just change leaders and dance anymore in the Labor Party, an idea with which the “anonymous party sources” let on to Allard they might be dallying. Gee, it was a close thing! But they let little Billy survive. What good chaps! Maybe later?

In truth, a leadership challenge now would mean a cynical and completely disruptive change of party rules solemnly entered into to even get to a caucus challenge: a challenge that would incidentally play right into the hands of the Tories, and de-legitimize any new leader who benefited from it, immediately, for any number of reasons (not the least of which would be the plonkingly mocking articles that Tom Allard would no doubt write about a “resurgently dysfunctional Labor”). But the journos persist that such a consuming apocalypse might happen. Oh, for the old days of “bring it on” leadership stoushes at 3pm, after a Crean interview at 10am.

They want to write those articles, make no mistake, but at the moment the meal is all potato and no meat. Bill Shorten is annoyingly not conforming to the “Human Dad Joke With The Squeaky Voice” meme. They thought they got rid of him at TURC time, but he just keeps bouncing back. All those “questions that need to be answered”… got answered, and thrown in their collective maws. How “quaint” – as Aguirre puts it.

So, there’s still a way to go in getting a majority of the Press Gallery into line, thinking positively about a Labor victory, something worth considering for more than its novelty value. Far be it from journalists like Allard – who has most likely never led anything more than a soccer team (if that) – to stop criticising Bill Shorten, who has  led one of Australia’s most rambunctious unions, organizing it into an effective and efficient fighting force as a result, and who now has gotten a defeated, decimated and demoralized Opposition ahead in the feted Newspoll horse race against the member for the Cayman Islands, while the Gallery was too busy writing hagiographies to the PM’s magnificence.

The reality is that Shorten is refusing to play the media’s game, they way they want him to play it. He actually defends himself. The horror! He actually refuses to stand down when some trumped up minor Age hack demands he does so. He persists when a has-been, harumphing old judge descends to threatening him in public for being too truthful in his evidence (as he also threatened Julia Gillard). Shorten keeps on fighting and trying, and now it seems, is starting to show measurable success that confounds, confuses and contradicts the established Media “line”. He comes up with the policy they’re all demanding he comes up with – even if they mostly call this “running a scare campaign” at this early stage in the Rehabilitation of Bill.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. As long as they get it right in the end, I for one will take that as a win, even if it is grudging, slow, a bit heckly and somewhat half-hearted. Because, for any Gallery reporter or political commentator to admit he or she was wrong – so often wrong in so many ways – is still something to be talked about, something worth noting, right here.

After all, it’s difficult not to note something that’s up and chewing your arse so hard.

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555 thoughts on “The Rehabillitation

  1. Whom to believe, Nige or Amnesty International …

    ANNA HENDERSON: The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, issued a statement ahead of today’s events saying it was important to acknowledge the progress that has occurred to reduce Indigenous deaths behind bars.

    It said:

    STATEMENT FROM NIGEL SCULLION (voiceover): At the time the royal commission was established in 1989, First Australians were more likely to die in custody than non-Indigenous Australians.

    This is no longer the case.

    Over the past 15 years, in all but one year, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person has in fact been less likely to die in custody than a non-Indigenous person.

    The success in bringing down the rate of deaths in custody for First Australians should bring hope that through the collective efforts of all governments and the wider community, we can reverse the trends.

    ANNA HENDERSON: Amnesty International says the minister is wrong

    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2016/s4443992.htm

  2. not usually a fan of Jack Waterford, but this is worth reading. A tribute to the late Tony Ayers, and a (justifiable) shot at the current APS leadership.

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tony-ayers-gave-frank-fearless-advice-to-ministers–and-in-fourletter-words-20160412-go4naf.html

    The problems he outlines are not just at the top of the APS where advice is going to Ministers. The reluctance to document rationale behind decisions is happening at all levels – mainly because (I think) in many cases there is no rationale! Too many decisions are made on instinct.

    Also, the conflict of interest problem mentioned re ACT govt, is also systemic – new bosses often engineer the hiring of contractors from their previous workplace – easier than trying to convince existing staff to make changes. The rules around engaging contract staff are easily manipulated.

    these articles also relevant…

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/number-of-contractors-in-the-public-service-jumped-by-nearly-30-percent-in-2015-20160408-go1k71.html

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/australias-top-public-servants-call-for-foi-reform-to-hide-advice-from-public-20160411-go3gxt.html

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/aps-bosses-self-serving-in-calls-for-greater-secrecy-over-foi-laws-20160414-go6aps.html

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