The incident involving Conrad French approaching Abbott in a pair of speedos embodies everything that is wrong with politics, and the under-educated over-powerful media that shapes it, in this country.
My hyperbole? Let's take a deep breath and have a look.
A labor staffer- so for the first bit of perspective, not an elected member (just an underdressed member, but I digress), likely to be on a pretty average salary and to work very hard for it- pulls off a stunt that:
* shows a lapse of judgement in the current political environment, and given his position;
* would have made complete sense otherwise, given Abbott's history, as a minor, inoffensive, non-aggressive (he desisted pretty much immediately) prank.
Wait, let's use some caps here: A MEMBER OF THE POLITICAL CLASS FELL OFF MESSAGE AND ACTED HUMAN FOR 30 SECONDS!
That's it. Abbott laughs it off. Brandis agrees it's not that big a deal. Yet according to The Age Gillard is under pressure to sack him.
Sack him. Take away his job and career. For wearing speedos.
'Under pressure' from whom? The media. This kind of tawdry, senseless scandalisation of the unremarkable is what we have come to expect as normal. It doesn't seem odd that there is 'pressure' to sack someone, for running in a pair of budgie smugglers.
[As an aside I think everyone who wears them should be subject to some cruel and unusual punishment, however this should not be meted out arbitrarily in this case!]
I have met Conrad. He seemed fine, he works hard for that party which I was a member of. I don't have any special attachment to him though and I'm not writing this out of bias- he's part of the machine that ultimately let me down.
But I've chosen to comment on this as I think it's a great glaring paradox of our system that we, and the media, rabbit on about wanting human beings in politics, then any time there's a minor slip off the company prompt card the hysteria is deafening.
He'll be dwelling on his embarrassment, and nurturing that awkward sense that this will be used against him for years to come. Only the media cares, because if he isn't sacked then the scandle-cycle hasn't worked properly, and they miss an additional news story.
Monkeys. Go find some other peanuts.
A new New Deal? - I’ll be talking to the Fabian Society in Melbourne on Wednesday night, looking at the failure of neoliberalism and options for a new “New Deal”.
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