The Coalition government is but a few months away from one of the most devastating federal election defeats in Australian history. These are desperate times for once extremely confident men.
The supposedly brilliant political attack dog, Tony Abbott, is still claiming in media interviews that he just doesn't understand how the public can be so keen to see the back of him and John Howard and Alexander Downer and the rest of the crew when they've been so perfect and wonderful and performed so brilliantly in every respect.
He keeps coming up with only one explanation : most Australians are actually pretty stupid and a bunch of ungrateful bastards.
Not exactly the best attitude to show to the public you're trying to win back to your side there, Tony.
Trying to get to the bottom of why the coalition government stinks like a nine day old prawn salad in the polls, and as made clear via a stream of 'leaks', the power people of the coalition gathered for an emergency meeting in Canberra. PM Howard opened the floor to hardcore criticism, asking those gathered variations of "Is it me?" "Am I the problem?"
You'd think the room would have been filled with cries of "Oh God, yes!" and "Well, Duh!"
But no :
...his colleagues were silent.Another version of the same Howard question to his colleagues goes :
"If you have a problem with how I'm doing my job, don't be afraid to say so."Same response. Nothing. Not a word of dissent.
Yes. They all know the election will be a massacre, but it's going to be Howard's massacre, not theirs.
It seems all but a given that there will be no leadership challenge now. But there's always the likelihood that Howard will be given the option to go quietly, and the election delayed into the New Year to give Peter Costello, or Malcolm Turnbull or Alexander Downer (pffft!hahahaha!) time to settle in and work out a new way to brainwash the Australian public into voting for them.
The best bet for a Howard departure pre-election? Something medical.
Dennis Shanahan in The Australian uses the story to continue his Surprise Spruiker-quality pitch that the 'preferred prime minister' poll results are the only ones that really matter...because they're the only ones that show Howard making any ground, and only in the Newspoll rankings. And even then it's hardly a jaw-dropping comeback.
It's hard to find any pollwatchers other than Shanahan who think the 'preferred prime minister' vote counts for anything more than warm cat's piss when it comes to determining who is likely to take control of the country come election time.
Alan Ramsey supplies some clarity :
...six months of the Government's worst opinion polls since it gained office in March 1996. Alternatively, six months of Labor's most sustained ratings since the first year after Bob Hawke's sweep to victory in March 1983.Indeed. The reason why Abbott and Downer and Joe Hockey are all looking a little bulkier of recent is because they've already strapped on their life vests, under their suits, just in case the ship goes down even faster than they already think it will.
All those panicked Government promises of billions for water and climate change. The rush of instant policy. The hysterical union bashing and fear-mongering about Labor economic management. The ramping up of the terrorist threat. The sudden crusade in the name of abused Aboriginal children. And all for, what?
After 11 years the iceberg looms.
John Howard will have to achieve the political equivalent of raising Princess Diana, Jesus Christ and Steve Irwin from the dead to win the election from here.
That hearing problem of his could always be a sign of something far more serious.
If it needs to be.
If he decides to bow out with most of his dignity intact.
Labor Maintains Its "Crushing Lead"
Too Many Horrible Home Truths For Howard
The Wizard Keeps Pulling The Levers, But Nothing Works
The Government Gazette Maintains The Rage - A PM Theorem
Mumble : More Excellent News For Howard : 58 To 42