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75 responses to “On political rivalry”

  1. Ken Lovell

    God Howard and Costello come across as a pair of juveniles. Nothing new there I suppose but if this is the best they can do by way of carefully prepared public rationalisation, the reality must have been really ugly.

    At least the Rudd/Gillard relationship is all about power and not people’s feelings. I have no doubt they can work together effectively as long as Rudd wants to, but I believe Gillard is making a fundamental error with this “I don’t know much about foreign affairs” stuff. It might be true but she ought to have found a way to avoid admitting it; in an era when the opposition bases so much of its credibility on global issues of national security, her stance opens an obvious opportunity for ‘two prime ministers’ type criticisms.

  2. Ken Lovell

    BTW if that is typical of Howard’s writing style and content, the thought of reading 711 pages of it is horrible beyond contemplation. I wonder who TF will buy it apart from a handful of folk who want to be especially mean to a Liberal-lover relative at Christmas.

  3. Paul Burns

    Gawd, tigtog, when I clinked on that Howard link I didn’t realise I’d actually be reading JWH. 🙂
    Can’t say over the past week or so that I’ve noticed much on the Gillard-Rudd rivalry. But no doubt it will re-surface when Murdoch can’t dream up something more damaging.

  4. Katz

    Howard:

    I was not removed as Liberal leader in favour of Costello because the great majority of Liberal senators and MPs never wanted that to happen. Politics is relentlessly driven by the laws of arithmetic.

    Translation:

    I did not resign as Liberal leader in favour of Costello because despite the great majority of Liberal senators and MPs knew I was leading the party to an unprecedented electoral disaster, they did not have the guts to make me do it. Politics is relentlessly driven by old men’s egos and cowardice.

  5. joe2

    “I wonder who TF will buy it apart from a handful of folk who want to be especially mean to a Liberal-lover relative at Christmas.”

    The whole point of the exercise is surely not to sell the book – it will hit the discount table in record time – but provide a Christmas present of half a million from Rupert to John.

  6. Sam

    God Howard and Costello come across as a pair of juveniles.

    To be fair, they are no worse than Keating and Hawke, who are still at it, 20 years later.

    John Hewson, who loathes both Howard and Costello, says that Costello didn’t have the balls to challenge and that’s why he never became PM, as he could have done in 2007. This is fundamentally, irreducibly, correct.

    Keating had the cojones. So did Gillard. That’s why their portraits are in Parliament House in the gallery of Australian PM’s, and Costello’s is not.

  7. Diogenes

    He and his government were given a knockout punch and now he’s back with his narcissist opinion of his time as prime minister. Will no one rid us of this insufferable and pompous toad?

  8. Mercurius

    Where’s Barbra Streisand when you need her*?

    …misty watercolour memmmmmmmries,
    of the way
    we were.

    *trick question.

  9. Fine

    In response to your question Tigtog; no.

  10. Paul Burns
  11. Charlie

    “Will no one rid us of this insufferable and pompous toad?”

    Now, now, now. I think toads deserve more respect than to be compared to JWH.

    Could I suggest instead, Glenn Becks’ half-man, half-monkey!!

  12. Don Wigan

    Thanks for the Oakes referral Paul. It’s pretty close.

    The truth may be that Howard never seriously considered a changeover at all – that he conned all of us. That is certainly what Costello believes.

    That’s on the money and close to Hewson’s take – that he’d either go down at an election or go out in a box.

    Howard used to liken himself in cricket analogy to Steve Waugh, with all the captain fighting capacities that implied. But in truth the analogy should have been Geoff Boycott. It was always about his record. I firmly believe he gave himself a chance of taking Menzies’ record even though he’d be near 80 by then.

    Given the ineptness of Labor, he might have been a chance, too, only for the hubris he displayed with Workchoices.

  13. Paul Burns

    Don @ 13,
    I think it was more than Workchoices and that it had been building up for years. The problem arises when you try to tease it out beyond Workchoices, which gave people the excuse to vote against him. Clearly, it wasn’t immigration policy. if one looks at the way the ordinary voter is currently behaving. Iraq, Afghanistan, social welfare policies (especially if you were on the receiving end of his cuts), refusal to adopt Reconciliation etc, etc, + all the pluses Labor appeared to have in Rudd. But now, we take the position ‘a pox on both your houses’. Howard took the possession, if these tiresome extracts are any indication, ‘a pox on everybody except me!’

  14. pablo

    We should have given the bastard the hospital pass to that cricketing job. If nothing else it might have saved us this tome. Come to think of it, is Costello into cricket? Now that would really piss someone off.

  15. Darryl Rosin

    No.

    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

    d

  16. mediatracker

    The excerpt lays bare the vindictiveness which was a central theme of the Howard Government approach and which continues within the present Opposition.

    Howard shows his hubris in the comment prioritising Defence and National Security (which he apparently believes he owned) as being ahead of economic matters (which Costello owned).

    The Laurie Oakes piece says it all.

  17. Helen

    I see Fine’s already beaten me to it: No.

  18. David Irving (no relation)

    I think the main differences between Rudd/Gillard and Howard/Costello is that firstly, Rudd and Gillard are both adults, and secondly neither of them are spectacularly unpleasant people.

    I still have hopes that Howard will descend into alcoholism and dementia, BTW, but the older he gets the less likely it looks.

  19. Fran Barlow

    Had Costello wanted to play hardball against Howard he could simply have undermined him from within until his prime ministership became unviable.

    Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to let Howard know in 2001 (when Howard was actually in a bit of bother, looked like losing and had promised he’d leave that if he didn’t honour his 1994 agreement Costello would start a campaign from the backbvench to bring him down, regardless of the impact of this on the government’s fortunes.

    Howard would have been vulnerable pre-Tampa & 9/11 and might have seen the pass to Costello as a hospital pass.

    Even in 2003-4 this would have been viable.

    But Costello declined because he wanted it handed to him because he was basically cowardly (he feared rejection) and lazy and had no firm convictions.

  20. Paul Burns

    DI (nr) @ 19,
    The nastiness is still there if you recall the way he gloated over Rudd’s downfall and was jumping wth joy at Gillard’s possible demise. Its all right to celebrate a political rival’s downfall, but there was something very odd the way Howard was doing it for years once he was out of office. You don’t see Hawke or even Keating acting that way over Howard.

  21. paul walter

    Yep, I would give it to Wigan, re Lone Hand syndrome.
    Lovely peice of writing, tig tog’s thread starter.

  22. wilful

    will shame the corporate media into..

    oh hahahahhahahhaaa. Laugh? Tears in my eyes.

    Nothng will shame the corporate media.

  23. Bill Twyman

    I think Keating nailed Costello – all tip and no iceberg. He never had the stomach for a fight for the leadership.

    As for Howard, Anthony Albanese made a speech in an Adjournment debate years ago canvassing the idea that Little Johnny’s awful behaviour was his way exacting revenge for all the ridicule he endured as a result of wearing shorts and long socks and living at home with his Mum.

    I think he just loved irritating people. Anyway, the unflushable t**d has been flushed and we shall not see his like again!

  24. joe2

    “Anyway, the unflushable t**d has been flushed and we shall not see his like again!”

    Ya reckon?
    http://resources2.news.com.au/images/2009/12/03/1225806/772686-tony-abbott.jpg

  25. Fiona Reynolds

    …descend into alcoholism and dementia, BTW, but the older he gets the less likely it looks.

    But, but, DI(nr), Hyacinth wouldn’t let him – at least so far as the first little “problem” is concerned.

  26. Jacques de Molay

    What I find appalling is the one hour advertisement the ABC is giving this book on Q&A this week, I won’t be watching.

  27. Hal9000

    [email protected]

    The ABC has been spruiking the program on RN all day with the amazing line that JWH was ‘a man of conviction’. The only conviction he ever displayed to my knowledge was the conviction that he should become and remain Prime Minister of Australia. The lives, health and sanity of any number of human beings were of no account if their sacrifice helped in his gaining and holding that position.

    Of course, perhaps the ABC are referring to the convictions he undoubtedly deserves for various war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  28. Fiona Reynolds

    One can only home, Hal9k.

  29. Fiona Reynolds

    oops, hope.

  30. jane

    We should have stormed his nest after the 2007 election, strung him up and slung his lifeless corpse on the steps of Parliament House!

  31. Fiona Reynolds

    Nah, Jane, no reason to make him into a (sainted) martyr. Much more Schadenfreude to be had in observing his continued existence.

  32. Fascinated

    oooh Jane – that’s pretty tetchy there – some would think you are however too kind.

    Fiona, tee hee.

  33. grace pettigrew

    The two-man team approach to governing started with Hawke/Keating, because Keating was such a powerful personality, in complete command of his portfolio, that Hawke could not prevent his gradual ascendency to equal power status over that decade, even if he wanted to.

    Before Keating (BK), Deputy Prime Ministers, not Treasurers, stood beside the PM.

    After Keating (AK), the media assumed continuity in the narrative and squeezed Costello into Keating’s role for dramatic convenience. From his first day on the job, Treasurer Costello aped all Keating’s verbal and physical mannerisms on the floor of the parliament, while his intellectual grasp of the portfolio and the size of his cajones were left unquestioned, and his thin, mean wit was hailed as hugely funny. Another Keating, too easy.

    But there is no doubt that Howard (and Jannette) were not natural power-sharers, and did not appreciate News Ltd’s love affair with the Treasurer. They disliked Costello’s elevation by the media to equal power status over the decade (never once was he invited to dinner) and they doubted Costello’s depth of talent as Treasurer all along (after all, he had Ken Henry as minder, so what could go wrong). John and Jannette, back at Wollonstonecraft with the lawn mowed and the pool cleaned, have now written Howard’s legacy accordingly. Costello was a wimp, hail Howard.

    Gillard and Rudd are doing the same power-sharing thing that Hawke and Keating did. Powerful personalities like Keating and Rudd can work their portfolios successfully in the national interest if they are given enough relative autonomy to accommodate their large egos, and their future ambitions.

    Hawke, a more generous man than Howard, was relaxed about this, as apparently is the Red Fox (but perhaps not her backroom boys).

    Unfortunately for all of us (and our spineless ABC) the macho head-bangers at News Ltd find women particularly incomprehensible. Gillard was apparently once a sneaky back-stabber, but now she is just a girl in pants too weak to assert her silver-backed primacy over Rudd. Meanwhile Rudd is apparently a growing threat to Gillard because he is popular and hard-working overseas at the UN.

    Power-sharing, to the extent that there is any between Gillard and Rudd, smells too much like cooperation for the common good to the boys at News Ltd. Soon we will have Paul Kelly telling us that Gillard “needs to” do something about Rudd, who “needs to” come clean about his ambitions…

    And so it goes.

  34. Diogenes

    grace pettigrew @ 34

    John and Jannette, back at Wollonstonecraft with the lawn mowed and the pool cleaned

    You forgot to mention the stack of cricket bats in the corner of their living room, which are ideally positioned near his sitting chair. And as he reflects, during his twilight years, and dreams of the fours and sixes, the innings of hundred +, and the endless hat tricks of dismissals if he had played for Australia.

    We should all count our blessing we lived in his time and were witnesses to his éclat.

    I feel sick.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/relaxed-and-comfortable/story-e6frg8h6-1225942349551

  35. John D

    Hawke/Keating worked in part because they had different strengths and priorities. Thus the team was successful despite (because of?) Keating on his own was really a failure because he needed a Hawke to bring out the best in him.
    Howard/Costello was a more problematic team because Howard had been a reforming treasurer who really wanted to keep running treasury – Costello would have been smart to have tried another portfolio that covered something that Howard was less interested in.
    Gillard and Rudd may work well because Gillard doesn’t really want to be foreign affairs minister and has a similar approach to people as Hawke had.

    Back in the past, wasn’t Abbot & Joyce the famous comedy team? (or was it Abbot & Costello?). Who the hell is Howard?

  36. Sam

    Keating used his authority as Treasurer, and the force of his personality, to take on any subject that interested him or he thought was important.

    Costello sat in his office and read his Treasury briefs. He was too lazy to go further, and on the rare occasion he tried, it was disastrous. In 2005 he famously said that it would be really good if we had a national electricity market, not knowing there had been one since 1997.

  37. Pavlov's Cat

    Unfortunately for all of us (and our spineless ABC) the macho head-bangers at News Ltd find women particularly incomprehensible.

    I think that’s exactly right, Grace. And I think it may be true of her backroom boys as well. Heh.

  38. Paul Burns

    Presumably Monday night’s Q & A will be stacked and double-stacked with Liberal Party apparatchniks to avoid asking the little prick difficult questions.

  39. Paul Burns

    And I think Tip should complain to the ABC. For balance, the very least we should expect is PJK on the panel tearing into the egregious little liar. Indeed, Tip should be on this Q & A. Why hasn’t he been given a chance to defend himself?

  40. mediatracker

    The promo ad running on the ABC for tomorrow’s Q & A shows a large audience enthusiastically clapping. Probably just my cynical side which leads me to think that perhaps the audience is stacked. Surely the ABC wouldn’t do this, or would they?

    A group of us (about 12 now) have each sent a question and we’re waiting to see if all 12 get up or even any. We’re obviously not holding our breath as they are all questions which would require an honest answer.

  41. Paul Burns

    Howard would know what an honest answer was, but I suppose that’s what you meant, mediatracker.

  42. joe2

    I would have to join others in agreeing that there is no hope we will ever see an end to those “incessant oh-noes-how-will-they-ever-manage-to-work-together Julia vs Kevin beatups?” when Barry Cassidy, for instance, can come up with twisted logic like the following.

    But though Rudd is not a threat to Julia Gillard’s leadership, he could be a threat to her stature and authority – if that was his inclination. That is the price Gillard and the Government had to pay when they made good on the promise to deliver him – effectively – the portfolio of his choice.

    A treasurer can erode the authority of a leader – just as Paul Keating did and Peter Costello could have done. So can a foreign minister, though so far none has.

    That is reason enough for the media to track every nuance of Rudd’s behaviour, no matter that he is not a potential challenger for the leadership.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/14/3037803.htm

    In the Bazza mind, the insiders must keep pestering Rudd (and Gillard) ,continually, because something most unlikely might just happen.

  43. Ken Lovell

    From the link @ 35:

    One of the rules I had was never having a photograph taken I didn’t feel comfortable with. People would say, “Wear a hat,” and I’d say, “No, I’m not going to wear it, I’d look stupid in it.”

    I seeeee.

  44. bmitw

    Sam @6

    My theory, FWIW, is that Costello’s cojones went missing sometime in 2006 and may be found in the vicinity of The Lodge’s present occupant……on permanent loan.

  45. paul walter

    38, I warn you- the Pettigrew woman is not one to be tangled with!
    A mess of contradictions and an identity crisis to match “United States of Tara.”
    A “girl in pants”?
    what else?
    You can’t go commando in the House- she sits just opposite unsavoury people like Pyne and Truss- just not done.
    What would Sir Humphrey say?

  46. Jacques de Molay

    Speaking of the ABC rigging audiences it probably doesn’t get any worse (or better) than this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I24QOvMUUyw

  47. Ginja

    Whose side should I be on? The old bald dude with the revolting political views or the smirky younger dude with the revolting political views?

  48. Ian Harris

    If you would like to see this issue from the perspective of John Howard’s fairy godmother then I invite you to read my blog http://www.theblowfly.com.au
    Released at 10.30 this morning

  49. joe2

    “John must believe that he had all the answers, and that he was almost infallible. He joins only one other individual on earth’s surface over history that can claim that credit, the rest of us are mere mortals and we do our best.”
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/25/3047036.htm?section=justin
    …says Jeff Kennett

    I have been listening to local ABC News radio reporting this story. Can you believe some idiot writing their news reports seems to believe the individual he is referring to is Jesus Christ?

  50. Paul Burns

    Kennett must have ben referring to the Devil, not Jesus Christ.

  51. joe2

    Jeff has no time for the Pope or John Howard. They must be the only things I have in common with him.

  52. Paul Burns

    But the Pope is Catholic! and JWH … well ,,,

  53. Chookie

    It has been enjoyable to hear all of JWH’s enemies on his own side of politics come out swinging today. Afater a while, though, I did start to wonder how many friends JWH has now, as opposed to allies ‘back then’. Does anyone at all get invited to dinner at the Wollstonecraft Mausoleum these days?
    (Incidentally, what’s the animus against Janette all about? If I had a husband like hers I’d figure out a way to keep him out of the house, too.)

  54. Fran Barlow

    Joe2 said:

    I have been listening to local ABC News radio reporting this story. Can you believe some idiot writing their news reports seems to believe the individual he is referring to is Jesus Christ?

    Moses? The Delphic Oracle? Kwai Chang Caine? Max Presnell?

    Who was Kennett talking about?

  55. joe2

    Very obviously the pope, Fran, I would have thought. Given his mention of infallibility.

  56. Paul Burns

    Somebody threw a shoe at JWH on Q&A tonight, as most of you are probably well aware.. Tony Jones almost shat himself as a consequence. For that alone it was worth watching.
    Otherwise, Howard continued to give a good imitation of an ex-Bourbon king.

  57. tssk

    Let me guess. Was Peter Costello spotted outside running into the night in his socks?

  58. Paul Burns

    tssk @ 58,
    No. It was done by some guy who told Howard to his face that Howard should be arraigned before the International War Crimes Tribunal. The bloke made me cheer. Most of the time I was abusing Ratty. Knew that watching it wouldn’t be good for my temper.
    David Hicks asked him why he had supported Hick’s inhumane treatment in Guantanamo Bay. Howard, of course, lied about telling the US that Australia would not accept Hicks back unless he was tried by the Guantanamo Military Tribunal.
    He tried, too, to discredit Hicks’s recent book. It seems to have escaped Howard’s attention that the most vehement critic of Hicks’s book has been a guard from Guantanamo who – surprise, surprise! has also published a book on Guantanamo. Hicks’s book bring’s the American book’s credibility into question. So the controversy over Hicks’s book appears to be a brawl between rival publishers. Though there’s probably a lot more to it than that.

  59. Lefty E

    My conclusion on Q&A: Howard hasnt been out of the job long enough to be interesting yet.

    Aside from his comments on Rudd (viz, he would’ve won) which I quite agreed with, I found him most yawnful.

  60. Don Wigan

    I didn’t watch Q&A for the very reasons Paul mentioned. Even under the third degree you’d never get any concessions from Howard and his self-righteousness. It wasn’t worth the trouble of getting annoyed with him.

    It’s just a pity we’re still living in the shadows of his legacy. I think Labor- both Rudd and Gillard – would have been much better off denouncing him and drawing a line in the sand. Instead they have kept up the myth that he made a great contribution. That he did, but it was almost entirely negative. And Labor is still paying for it.

    Sorry I missed the shoe-throwing, but even that might have annoyed me with such lousy throwing.

  61. Fran Barlow

    John must believe that he had all the answers, and that he was almost infallible. He joins only one other individual on earth’s surface over history that can claim that credit, the rest of us are mere mortals and we do our best.

    Joe2 suggested “the pope” might fit the bill but this seems unlikely. Not only is the pope, even in the opinion of Catholics, mortal, but “over history” there have been a lot more than one. He of course claims ex-officio to be not merely almost infallible, but actually infallible, while the rest of us know that this is more papal bull (April 4, 2005). (I can never resist this pun)

  62. tssk

    Of course thinking about it overnight this even has only made Howard even more of a legend. Look at the footage. He didn’t move, didn’t flinch. And the columns almost right themselves. “What is it with the left and political violence?”

    Thanks a bunch grungey guy.

  63. tssk

    Almost WRITE themselves. Sigh. What is it with the left and not knowing how to spell 🙁

  64. joe2

    Fran, “over history” there have been a number of individual popes claiming infallibility. It was not something JC tried on, in those terms.

  65. joe2

    “Of course thinking about it overnight this even has only made Howard even more of a legend. Look at the footage. He didn’t move, didn’t flinch.”

    tssk, you should be employed by harpercollins. And try more sleep and less think.

  66. Fran Barlow

    For some reason, the link in the following text was excised:

    He of course claims ex-officio to be not merely almost infallible, but actually infallible, while the rest of us know that this is more papal bull (April 4, 2005). (I can never resist this pun)

  67. Fran Barlow

    Hmm third time lucky as the anchor tag seems now to be parsing in the same way as Crikey by concatenating the comment string url argument from LP with the argument for the address. Perhaps this will work:

    http://tinyurl.com/morepapalbull3

  68. paul walter

    Yes, nasty Fran, to the Catholics.
    The Pope is merely (largely) benign, mainly thru the vicissitudes of advancing years by the time he gets to the Holy See. But better leadership would help the church out of its current myopia the way a four would Geoff Boycott. We must still account for Howard’s arrogance.
    And Howard imho is unexceptional, as to the world of pondslime that inhabits politics.

  69. Fran Barlow

    I wasn’t nasty to Catholics Paul. I took a swing at the SMH at the time over its excursion into maudlin metaphysics around the death of John Paul Wojtyla …

  70. joe2

    Yes, I do not think Fran was being nasty to Catholics. Good letter and published, as well! That’s unusual.

  71. tssk

    Joe2 @66. Harpercollins? I’ve been sending manuscript after manuscript to Mills and Boon trying to promtoe my political love stories starring John Howard as the political man of steel with a soft heart…no takers yet. (sob)

    Maybe my new story entitled Abbott:the Iron Man Lifesaver will gain more traction.

  72. paul walter

    FB, the SMH is beneath your dignity as a target.
    It’s beneath my dignity, so it must be beneath yours…
    You’re right,of course.. they do ache on, the sausages.
    In light of Joe2’s further endorsement, I see I must clearly step aside, in fact quit while I’m behind, as our friend DI(nr) would say.
    It would have be an issue of deep grief for me, had I perturbed the little one.