There was something a bit sad about watching Turnbull's reply. The dignity of a man who knows so many eyes are on his back, keeping his shoulders squared and an earnest smile on his face. The speech unfolded, nothing happened, no great counterpunch emerged, the return deficit figure was avoided, and he descended into hyperbole about mountains of debt and some tangled, inarticulate metaphor about reaching back down to the top of the mountain.
Back down to the top? I think I know what he meant, but Barry Jones' spaghetti plate comes to mind.
In the particular, his suggestions weren't really that bad. But didn't he watch the incredible dumbing down of debate that worked for Howard, before thinking discussion of the finer details of bankruptcy laws would be a political hit?
Aside from Brutus, analogies might include Hewson, too honest, nice, technical and liberal for the bonnet-thumpers who delivered victory for Howard.
Barwick? Brilliance in a technical, conservative profession where clean-cut men in dark suits use bombast and pomposity to get their way does not automatically translate into political success.
Keating? Big personas with polish and gravitas don't cut it with Aussies the way sneering, lisping suburban solicitors or beer-gagging, shagging, crying blokes do.
I don't know. His challenge now is not to stay leader, it's to find something useful to do with his brain and clout, ideally one that actually embodies liberalism.
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