The longer the Liberals stay out of federal power, the more they are going to hate and vilify John Winston Howard. The man with an ego so enormous, that even when he knew that refusing to handover the leadership would destroy the party he claimed to have loved so dearly, he still refused to go, for little more reason than that he would not be granted the exit of his choosing. That is, the departure from the leadership that would look the best in the history books.
Howard knew for almost a year that he would go out a loser, and his government would lose the election, but he wasn't going to let his party shove him aside, despite his continual lies that he would stay on only as long as the Liberals wanted him to be there. When they didn't want him to be there, he demanded they force him out, so he could tell historians "they shoved me out, I never quit".
Being a loser for John Howard was far better than being remembered as a coward :
...what will outrage those who believed the government might have survived under a Peter Costello prime ministership is that Howard also knew that he was running on empty, but decided to stay on anyway, wilfully consigning the Coalition to what could be a decade in the political wilderness.
And the reason Howard chose this road to the abyss? In a verdict that will frame the 2007 defeat as the ultimate act of indulgence on Howard's part, Downer says it was because those Costello supporters agitating for change in late 2006 were "f...ing rude" to the former prime minister.
According to Downer, it was Howard's intention to hand over to Costello in 2006, until he felt pressured to do so by the treasurer's supporters. "If after the 2004 election, all of the Costello team would have just said, 'Howard's done well, he's won the 2004 election, we'll just wait till he hands over', then John Howard would have handed over at the end of last year."
Howard would have handed over if it had not been for quite a sustained campaign to force him to hand over. "John Howard is not uncivilised and if you ever want anything from John Howard apply the old (saying) that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It's funny when people are f...ing rude to you, they are then surprised when you don't like them."
"The prime minister's view was actually that he didn't think it would work, that we were in deep trouble, but we could do even worse if we changed. And it was also his view that, and I think it's important to understand this, he would be remembered, that had he voluntarily stood down, he would be remembered as a coward, who ran away from a contest in his seat and who ran away from a national contest when he was behind in votes, that people would remember that he ran away."
Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees, eh Mr Howard?
So fuck the Liberals, right? After all, what did they ever do for you?Earlier in the year, Howard reportedly told his cabinet members "You're nothing without me." Which was true enough, considering his favourability ratings were so high, particularly when compared to Costello, who spent most of 2007 being about as popular as open running pus sores.
Like George W. Bush is now to Republican Party, so John Howard will eventually become to the Liberal Party. The leader who screwed up, who refused to listen to the changing tide of opinion amongst the people that he ruled, whose ego was so enormous that he was willing to trash his own party and damn them to perhaps a decade in opposition, and whose name will be rarely mentioned, soon enough, amongst the more betrayed feeling Liberals without these introductory words : "That fucking bastard..."