'Conservative' Losers Claim Victory, For Losing
By Darryl Mason
John Howard has given his first interview since his humiliating election annihilation in November last year. Don't get too excited there, Howard's interview is about as dry and lifeless as a warm glass of salt and sand. But then, that shouldn't come as a surprise.
More interesting than most of what Howard has to say, is who he decided to say it to. That would be Janet Albrechtsen of The Australian newspaper.
You remember Janet, surely? She was the one who told Howard a few months out from the 2007 election that he had to quit, for the good of the Liberal Party, and for the ultimate benefit of Australian conservatism.
Here's a little flashback from Janet :
Under Howard it became cool to be a conservative. He rebuilt a political philosophy of individual responsibility for a new generation. His legacy is profound...
But now he must go. The Howard factor is there. Where once it meant success, now it presages defeat.Of course, that column from Janet, back in September, 2007, didn't come as a complete shock to Howard. How could it? Janet rang Howard's office to let him know what she was publishing, before she even wrote it :
She's not an independent columnist, with scant regard for the impact of her opinion, as a truly fearless and uncompromising columnist must be. She is a propaganda outlet for John Howard, and has been a key player in the current game of "Howard Must Quit"/"Howard Must Stay" that has dominated political media coverage for the past eight days. The Game that is meant to show just how tough and resilient Howard can be, and how ready he is for the Big Fight in the coming election. And it all took place just when Howard needed it the most, when he is absolutely tanking in the polls....In trying to fill in the gaps around the dull Howard quotes in her story - it being painfully obvious that he has little of anything fresh or interesting to say - Janet sprays a fresh coat of much-needed varnish on her Monty Python-absurdity level theory that Howard's hammering in the election, and the evisceration of the Liberal Party in general, actually means that conservatism is victorious in Australia :
Howard’s critics still don’t get it. In the sweep of history, conservatism has triumphed.
Since the election of the Rudd Government, the familiar refrain is that conservatism is beat. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said that the right-left labels no longer apply. Yet, Rudd eagerly embraced much of the conservative agenda.
Yes, she's right. Rudd did embrace "much of the conservative agenda". That would be the "conservative agenda" of saying 'Sorry' to Aborigines, ratifying Kyoto, culling politicians' perks, pulling combat troops out of Iraq, nixing nuclear power, ramping up renewable energy programs, rewiring the Australian economy to deal with climate change, embracing carbon trading, obliterating WorkChoices and on and on.
You know, the 'New Conservatism'. It's not much like the old Howard conservatism, but it's far more popular and reflective of the Australia that most Australians want to live in.
Janet actually sums up the John Howard of 2008 perfectly in the story's intro :
For Howard, it is history that counts. And he is confident that history is on his side.
As long as people like Janet are writing the history, that is.
To be sure, Howard bears much of the blame for the final stain that tarnishes his record. After all, a leader is inevitably defined by their last act in office. Howard’s failure to heed the advice of his senior Liberal colleagues to hand over the leadership to Peter Costello last September will always be remembered as a final act of hubris. Deciding to stay on, preferring to be remembered by history as a fighter, not a quitter, knowing that electoral defeat was ahead, his leadership record would be indelibly marked down.
Keep spinning the myth, Janet, that if Costello became leader in September, election victory would have been in the bag. Dozens of polls in Janet's own newspaper reported all through 2007 that while Howard remained largely popular with voters, the Liberal Party, as in the primary political entity of Australian conservatism, was dying a long overdue death.
If the following quote from John Howard is anything to go by, he might want to check with medical professionals to see that at least a few of his neural pathways are still lighting up before he opens his mouth :
“The most constant comment made in the lead-up to the last election is that Rudd was trying to be a younger version of me. And there is some truth to that ... He did not win because he was different. He won because he was like me.”
Actually the most "constant comment" in the lead-up to the last election was that Howard was a tired old man, fresh out of ideas.
Poor John. He really did believe all that crap about Rudd being "a younger version of Howard" spouted by the likes of Janet, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and most of the op-ed writers of The Australian.
For those who were recently claiming that John Howard will never become like former prime ministers Paul Keating, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, popping up in the media waffling embarrassing piffle, it's too late. Howard's clearly ready now to take his place in the all-singing, all-dancing cast of Nutty Old PMs Who Can't Stop Talking Absolute Bollocks.
Doesn't John Howard know that irony-rich line was dreamed up and distributed, via phone calls and boozy lunches to Howard Huggers, like Janet, by his own media strategists?
They say you shouldn't believe your own press. But in Howard's case, he shouldn't believe turd-polishing propaganda that originated from his own office and PR people, no matter how attractive and ego-inflating it may be.
Expect John Howard to be writing a weekly column for The Australian by June. He should feel right at home.