Foreign minister Alexander Downer refuses to yield to easy temptation of trying to score desperate political points off the terror-related issues, and the Dr Haneef fiasco :
"I think we could sum [Opposition leader) Mr Rudd up in one word – and that word is jellyback," he said in Manila, where he is attending a regional security meeting.
"This is somebody who has decided to change his position because of the media controversy," Mr Downer said.
"If Mr Rudd would have become a prime minister of Australia, I think we have a pretty clear idea that old jellyback would just do what the media said. And actually that's not the best way... to run a country."
Can't say that "Jellyback" is a slang term I've heard used all that often. But Googling around I came up with some interesting examples of its usage in the past.
According to the Urban Dictionary, 'Jellyback' (Jangler) can mean grabbing a woman's breast, twisting it and then slapping it.
Perhaps not the definition that Downer was reaching for. But then again, this is the same person who thought it was funny to make public jokes about horrific incidents of domestic violence.
The search for 'jellyback' got interesting when I narrowed it down to Australian references.
Lo and behold, who was the famous user of the insult "Jellyback" before Downer resurrected it?
Why Paul Keating, of course.
On more than a few occasions, Keating called former prime minister Bob Hawke, "Old Jellyback", just like Downer called Rudd.
And then in 2005, it started popping up in online forums all over Australia. But this time in reference to then Labor leader Kim Beazley, again with the "Old Jellyback".
So Downer is reduced to digging through old slang terms from, and for, former Labor prime minister to come up with something he can try to smear Rudd with?
How sad. How very Alexander Downer.
Downer and Tony 'The Cleaner' Abbott keep trying to come up with a nasty little name for Rudd that will stick, but nothing seems to stick. At least, not in the public mind. Well, nothing except for the reality check that Downer and Abbott are acting like a couple of moronic teenagers, with nothing more important to do than to call people names.
And it's refreshing to see Downer not reduced to trying to score any desperate political points off issues related to terrorism that he can. Downer would never do that. The threat of terror is far too important to be sidelined as a mere political issue, or a political cricket bat with which to donk your opponents on the head. Downer's said so himself, many times.
Speaking of Keating, here's some of the insults he tossed at John Howard when they were at war in Parliament in the 1980s and 1990s :
"He's wound up like a thousand day clock..."
"...the brain-damaged Leader of the Opposition..."
(Of his 1986 leadership) "From this day onwards, Howard will wear his leadership like a crown of thorns, and in the parliament I'll do everything to crucify him."
"He is the greatest job and investment destroyer since the bubonic plague."
"But I will never get to the stage of wanting to lead the nation standing in front of the mirror each morning clipping the eyebrows here and clipping the eyebrows there with Janette and the kids: It's like 'Spot the eyebrows'."
"I am not like the Leader of the Opposition. I did not slither out of the Cabinet room like a mangy maggot..."
"He has more hide than a team of elephants."
"I do not want to hear any mealymouthed talk from the Member for Benelong."
"The principle saboteur, the man with the cheap fistful of dollars."
What we have got is a dead carcass, swinging in the breeze, but nobody will cut it down to replace him."
I bet the "dead carcass" line above still makes Peter Costello laugh, and wince.
And poor little Alex. He wants to be as fast and funny and savage as Keating was, but all he can do is steal his best insults. Word for word.