Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book Wars : Howard Vs Costello

Biographer : "Howard Is This Automaton"

Costello The Messiah...No Wait, He's Not The Messiah

Former prime minister, John Howard, apparently has five publishers interested in his autobiography, but former treasurer Peter Costello has already got his deal done, the writing has begun and it is expected to briefly hog shelf space in bookstores from early October.

The betting, before the books are even completed, is that Costello will turn in the better tale, which will mostly be written by his father-in-law, Peter Coleman, a former editor of The Bulletin.

The hope is that the book's publication will mark the end of Costello's political career, instead of a new beginning. Why?

If Costello intends to take a run at leader of the Liberal Party (and really, why would he?), you would expect the book to go easy on Howard, on the Liberals in general, mock Labor generously and ramp up the potential of a victorious return to power for the Liberals, starting anywhere. That means, not a lot of sales outside the hard core ranks of Australian conservatives.

But if Costello is heading for the door (and really, why would he stay?) we might get a conservative rival to Mark Latham's spectacular napalming of Labor in The Latham Diaries, full of bite, bile and venom.

That is no doubt the hope of Costello's publisher, Melbourne University Press, and whatever newspaper will fork out $30,000 to $60,000 for the serialisation rights.

More here :

Peter Costello may finally take the top slot from his old boss John Howard in a battle of memoirs, according to a biographer of the former prime minister.

ANU academic Wayne Errington, who co-wrote last year's controversial John Winston Howard: The Biography, said Mr Costello was the more attractive prospect.

"Howard and Costello both gave us a lot of their time and, generally speaking, Costello was much more interesting," he said.

"He's more human. Howard is this automaton who is hugely focused and disciplined while Costello, and I know this is a terrible cliche, is definitely the bloke you'd rather have a beer with."

Interestingly, the writer of the Costello book, Peter Coleman, ripped into John Howard after the Liberal Party's election massacre.

"What was once seen as his gritty determination started to look like an almost animal egomania and he seemed to be blocking progress and regeneration, rather than advancing the cause," Mr Coleman said.

He claimed that Mr Howard destroyed Mr Costello's chance to be prime minister. "There is no doubt that this man of great promise and great ability was blocked by Howard's egomania," he said.

It'd be hard to imagine Coleman won't entrench those views, obviously shared with Peter Costello, in the new book. The publishers are clearly expecting this, and much, much more.

John Howard, eating his breakfast alone and reading the papers, as is his daily morning habit, must have a few seconds where he found it hard to swallow when he read the news of Costello's book.

What will he say about me? Howard must have wondered, What will he reveal?

Winter began early for Howard yesterday morning.

The best coverage on the surreal hyping of Peter Costello returning to lead the Liberal Party and the announcement of his book deal naturally comes from Andrew Bolt, the Murdoch paid Liberal Party propagandist, and talking points provider, who can't even rely on the Liberals to leak him early news of actual interest anymore.

This is fantastic stuff from Bolt. Hail! Costello The Messiah Returns!
Costello retains a lot of respect in the electorate, making him preferred as Liberal leader to Turnbull, who is still inexperienced, unwilling to take advice and an ideological work in progress.

A Costello/Turnbull team would give the Liberals terrific credibility...

Costello has to get over his past resentments and seize his future.

...the Liberals must en masse ask him to take over.

...the leadership is there for his asking. And truly, his party needs him.

What news that Bolt didn't know was coming could turn that rancid fluff into pure bogwater? This - Oh Wait, The Messiah's Not Returning And...He's Taking Cash From The Publisher of Mark Latham and Antony Lowenstein :

Costello might be about to burn bridges rather than build them, unless he resists the impulse to get square:

Melbourne University Publishing (MUP) today said it would publish Mr Costello’s memoirs of his 18-year political career.

But you can at least gather from this Costello isn’t going anywhere that will demand plenty of his time, if he’s settling down for a long write.

Absolute bollocks, but pure comedy gold.

Costello wouldn't get more than $50,000 for his biography (he's believed to be getting around $150,000) unless the publisher knew in advance that Costello was going to use the book to leave at least a mildly impressive trail of smoke-belching burning bridges in his wake, heartily embracing the opportunity to get square, in public, and well before Howard's own tome wheezes onto the shelves.

The best part of the 2007 federal election remains the moment when John Howard had declared defeat and announced he would back Peter Costello as the new Liberal Party leader, with Howard all but begging Costello to come up onto the stage and allow Howard to officially anoint him.

Cut to Peter Costello standing in the crowd, looking casual and pissed, grimly grinning his answer back to the man who had done so much to make his life a frustrating, humiliating existence : Not fucking likely, mate, not fucking likely.