By Darryl Mason
Why won't Kevin Rudd go on TV or radio and say the words "$300 billion", in reference to a possible future Australian debt?
Because Rudd knows that the Liberals are going to use any video or audio clip of Rudd saying "$300 billion" in their attack ads in the next election campaign, and he's not going to give that word bomb to them to use against him.
Tony Jones on Lateline almost managed to crack Rudd open on Monday night. Almost. He gave it a good go, but relented when time was running out. Jones should have taken the approach of the BBC's Jeremy Paxman and asked the question he wanted the answer to at least 14 times in a row.
Still, even then, if Jones asked Rudd "can you say $300 billion debt" 14 times, or more, Rudd wouldn't have said those words.
He learned a lot from the mess John Howard made of election promises about "keeping interest rates low" and "keeping interest rates at record lows".
Trying to pre-empt a Liberal Party attack ad this far out from an election is a pathetic, trivial thing for the prime minister to be worrying about when the economy is rupturing, but Rudd is a political animal, first and foremost.
The Liberal Party, even Malcolm Turnbull, a once formidable manipulator of minds and emotions, still don't seem to understand this essential psychological fact about Kevin Rudd : He was, is and will remain, a mind fucker. He hasn't stopped fucking with the minds of the Liberal Party since he took over the Labor Party leadership in late 2006. And short of a stroke, he won't be stopping the head games anytime soon.
UPDATE : Not only can Rudd say "$300 billion" he can also say "$200 billion", but he still didn't say those monumental levels of debt in any kind of sentence that the Liberals can make sure come back and haunt him, or harass him, leading into the next election, though no doubt they will surely try :
HOST: And Paul Keating had a problem with the R word. Do you have a problem with the B word, billion, I notice and this was on Lateline, you wouldn’t say $200 billion and you still haven’t said it. You say 200 and 300.
PM: That’s exactly right, $200 billion, $300 billion, all I was explaining to you is the actual comparisons which exist between it and the performance of other relevant economies around the world.