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100 responses to “Tone”

  1. Mark Bahnisch

    Thanks, Anna, very interesting!

    I wonder to what degree a compromise between editorial standards and getting the book to market quickly is responsible for the egregious errors. Having said that, the author still needs to take responsibility for them.

    Would you care to expand on what the book suggests he wants to do with the power he wants are?

  2. Occam's Blunt Razor

    If the Mad Monk does become PM who wants to bet with me $1,000 that nothing retrograde will happen in relation to the rights of females and in particular contraception and abortion?

  3. Mark Bahnisch

    @2 – Thanks, Anna. I think he articulated his project pretty comprehensively in his NCC days, and it’s been all of a piece ever since.

  4. Craig Mc

    Who wants to bet with me $1,000 that any change, no matter how benign, tiny, or irrelevant, will be perceived as an outrageous assault on the rights of females and in particular contraception and abortion?

  5. Paul Norton

    I think an important question to ask about a book like this is whether, and to what extent, it will persuade a reader who isn’t already (like we are) trenchantly opposed to Mr Rabbit on left/feminist/green/queer-friendly/etc. grounds.

  6. Terangeree

    OBR @ 3 and Craig Mc @5:

    I take it that bet is to be made in Zimbawean Dollars? 😉

  7. paul walter

    I’d imagine somone of Susan Mitchell’s generation would be inclined to employ anecdotal ploys in sketching or illustrating the points she wants to make about Abbott’s personality (problems) in terms comprehensible to her readers. Mitchell is a tough old journo, not an academic, so much is going to rest on the accuracy of her sources and her native instincts in investigating how true or relaiable such anecdotal evidence might be.
    The incident involving his wife does sound rather similar in type to his abandonment of his girlfriend at university, when he thought he heard the patter of little feet.
    So Anna’s problem must exist in the interpretation or lack of it, of the above sorts of incident, eg in going to the next step, an overt and coherent explanation of the underlying personality type and what the implications for society are for having such a person running the country.
    Mitchell can cite her stories and look askance of the reader, but to go one better we would benefit from understanding what Abbott’s refusal to attend his daughter’s birth, for example, might indicate about the formation of the bloke and what it could say about society and culture.
    What’s at the nub of the pathology and what does it say about how people are formed by society( any “archeology/anthropology”?), that one individual can see or can’t see or empathise with things that others see?

  8. Occam's Blunt Razor

    When he bans Atheism I’d like to be a Jew, please.

  9. BilB

    OBR,

    I think that the knives are out for Abbott. At the moment he has nothing to winge about so is not achieving much press or impact and the shallowness is clearly evident. There was a half hearted attempt to claim ground over the Qantas announcement, but Hockey hit a foul and it all fell flat. Gillard has found her voice in pasting Abbott with such lines as “Mr Abbott has scraped together a collection of his slogans in the form of a question….”. I don’t see any enthusiasm on his side of the chamber, and that smells like doubt and dis-satifaction. But to bring on a coup the Turnbull camp needs a cause….and that is just not there,..yet.

  10. Mindy

    “the rights of females”

    Wow, plenty of condescension right there. You blokes will be all right when Abbott gets in, if he does.

    @3 and 5 – If you are going to talk about us, please do us the courtesy of using ‘women’.

  11. sg

    Count me in amongst the people who don’t want their future leaders judged on their housework skills. And I doubt that Abbot was particularly unusual amongst his generation in not attending a childbirth. Similarly claims that he doesn’t want the responsibility of children (a la Cannold at 7) don’t seem fair either. Being irresponsible with a girlfriend at uni is hardly a disqualification from humanity, nor is it particularly strong evidence of an enduring resistance to fatherhood. It would be nice if there were so many good men of leadership material who didn’t behave in this way that we could judge those who do, but I don’t think anyone is going to be holding their breath waiting for that day to come.

    In the meantime I prefer to assess him on his policy legacy, his actions in government and his stated policy aims. I don’t care if he’s a philandering monk, a strict christian or has a prison history. I want him to be good in government, and I would prefer commentators on his personality to address that rather than his personal life.

  12. Wantok

    It is, however, his policy to tow back to Indonesian waters boats that enter Australian waters. I note that he is quite unusually restrained in his comments on the most recent tragedy in Indonesian waters; perhaps he recognises that this could have been the fate of a boat that he had ordered towed back by our navy.
    The troubling thing with Tone is that he will just not back down from a policy that is deeply flawed.

  13. BilB

    You would care, sg, if it were another symptom of a form of psychosis.

  14. Mercurius

    So you think Abbott wouldn’t attempt to impose his personal values on others, because he says he wouldn’t….

    But if you want to know what someone really believes, look at what they DO…

    1) Abbott, for his own personal reasons, chose not to be at the birth of his daughter. I won’t presume to sit in judgement on his decision about his own personal life. That’s between him, his wife and his daughter.

    2) Abbott, then refused a pair for Craig Thompson to attend hospital in the event that Thompson’s wife goes into labour during a crucial vote…. That I damn well do presume to judge. Abbott might not personally feel it’s important for Abbott to attend his daughter’s birth, but HOW DARE HE attempt to impose that on another family.

    The guy has serial form in attempting to impose his personal values on others. Ignore it at your peril.

  15. sg

    That’s a good point, Mercurius. We can assume things about Abbot’s view of (e.g.) family-friendly workplaces from his decision on the pairing. But we don’t need evidence so weak – his legislative legacy was workchoices, so …

  16. FDB

    RU486

  17. Craig Mc

    Wow, plenty of condescension right there. You blokes will be all right when Abbott gets in, if he does.

    @3 and 5 – If you are going to talk about us, please do us the courtesy of using ‘women’.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

  18. Mercurius

    Craig Mc, YMMV, but I find it’s just good manners to identify people by whichever label is their preference. Especially when the request is explicit.That is a fundamental prerogative of intersubjective communication, which indicates repsect for the other party.

    If you think that’s too precious by half for a tough guy like yourself, then you might find people start referring to you as “the prick”, whether or not it’s an appellation to which you aspire.

  19. Pavlov's Cat

    ‘In the meantime I prefer to assess him on his policy legacy, his actions in government and his stated policy aims. I don’t care if he’s a philandering monk, a strict christian or has a prison history. I want him to be good in government, and I would prefer commentators on his personality to address that rather than his personal life.’

    sg, you are missing the point. All of the things you list in your
    previous paragraph are relevant to Abbott’s sexism and misogyny, which is what the book is about.

    Craig Mc @19, WTF are you talking about?

  20. Craig Mc

    Craig Mc, YMMV, but I find it’s just good manners to identify people by whichever label is their preference.

    In that case, I prefer you address me as “My Beloved Craig Mc”.

  21. SAVVY

    They find your post interesting over at the Cat, Anna.

  22. Craig Mc

    Craig Mc @19, WTF are you talking about?

    See @5.

  23. sg

    My Beloved Craig Mc, from the Collins dictionary:

    adj
    1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Zoology) of, relating to, or designating the sex producing gametes (ova) that can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa)
    2. of, relating to, or characteristic of a woman female charm
    3. for or composed of women or girls female suffrage a female choir
    4. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) (of reproductive organs such as the ovary and carpel) capable of producing female gametes
    5. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) (of gametes such as the ovum) capable of being fertilized by a male gamete in sexual reproduction
    6. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Botany) (of flowers) lacking, or having nonfunctional, stamens
    7. (Engineering / Mechanical Engineering) having an internal cavity into which a projecting male counterpart can be fitted a female thread
    n
    a. a female animal or plant
    b. Mildly offensive a woman or girl
    [from earlier femelle (influenced by male), from Latin f?mella a young woman, from f?mina a woman]

    Pavlov’s Cat, call me naive but I think it’s possible for a person to be sexist in their personal life but enact legislation that is, at least, not sexist for their time. Isn’t this the general view of Hawke? And if possible I prefer to judge people by their policy acts rather than their personal behavior if the choice is there (and it is, with Abbot).

  24. joe2

    “For instance, on page 45, Mitchell tells how Abbott missed the birth of his daughter because he chose to play football instead – he sent his mother to be with his wife. ”

    From my reading of the book, and since the subject of inaccuracies has arisen, Abbott did not actually miss the birth of first daughter. It suggested that he had arrived at the hospital after the game but was distracted and unsupportive during the birth.

  25. Pavlov's Cat

    ‘Pavlov’s Cat, call me naive but I think it’s possible for a person to be sexist in their personal life but enact legislation that is, at least, not sexist for their time.’

    You’re naive.

    ‘Isn’t this the general view of Hawke?’

    Hawke’s reputation was that of a cheerful slut, but that’s not the same thing as being sexist. (This is a mistake many men make, I think.) I’m not sure it’s all that useful a comparison; you also need to remember that there’s a full generation between Hawke and Abbott, and feminism has raised an awful lot of consciousness in the intervening years: Hawke’s attitudes to sex and gender were in some respects typical of his generation and of his times, whereas Abbott’s are retrogressive and atypical for his age and level of education. John Howard has more respect for women and their independence and agency than Tony Abbott.

    What’s more, Abbott’s behaviour towards women has always been that of a condescending bully and thug, from the female fellow-student-politician he manhandled from behind while she was trying to make a speech to the condescending reference to Julie Bishop as ‘a loyal girl’. Hawke may have shagged a lot of his friends and acquaintances and cheated on Hazel (and indeed on Blanche) but he never condescended to women, he never left them out of consideration and he never despised them. And unless the Hawke I remember is a completely different beast from the Hawke of reality, the last thing he would have been likely to do is try to control women’s rights regarding their own bodies.

  26. joe2

    I had just read that bit yesterday, Anna, and was at an advantage.

    I like what you said…
    ” I’m really glad that it came out now, as a hook to remind people of the kind of nation Abbott would like to mould us into.”

    At least she has started the ball rolling. Nobody has taken much time to put this bloke under the microscope. If people really understood what they were flirting with he would be no where near leadership of this country.

  27. sg

    Pavlov’s Cat, the only things I’ve heard about Hawke are from reading Pilger, and his personal behavior seemed a little more degenerate than “a cheerful slut” (and no, the confusion between that and sexist is not a mistake I’m likely to make). But I don’t know much about this aspect of Hawke and yes, your depiction of him doesn’t sound particularly sexist. But perhaps Peter Garrett is a better example? I think he has very strong views about things like abortion but is very clear about the difference between his personal views and the rights of women as a whole. I don’t think it’s naive to point to that as an example of conscientious conservatism.

    Perhaps my memory fails me in other regards to, but I remember Abbot being quite temperate on these issues (compared to expectations) when he was the health minister, in the same way that Howard was temperate on drug-related issues when he was PM. Recall Howard campaigned strongly against drug decriminalization and was very conservative about drug use generally; but harm minimization didn’t get defunded, and all he really did was stand in the way of further progress (and then, not to the extent that he was willing to risk too much political or constitutional damage over e.g. the injecting centre).

    I think the difference between people’s personal beliefs and their political actions can be large, and when they get their hands on the levers and find out what’s really going on in politics, they often get a lot less radical than we might expect. I don’t think their personal behavior is therefore necessarily a good way to judge their potential policy actions.

    And furthermore, if it is relevant, the criticism of this book seems to be that it is focusing too much on things like early life behavior (stupid young man stuff) and not enough on the kinds of things you identify.

  28. FDB

    “Perhaps my memory fails me in other regards to, but I remember Abbot being quite temperate on these issues (compared to expectations) when he was the health minister”

    I repeat: RU486

  29. su

    Link — in case FDB hasn’t succeeded in jogging sg’s memory.

    Mr Abbott said his stance during debates last year over stem cell research and RU486 had involved “issues where there is a traditional ethical position associated with the Christian Church and I am persuaded that the traditional position is the correct one.”

    He also wanted to remove the morning after pill, Postinor-2 from over the counter sale and reclassify it as prescription only. He has no compunction about taking action to restrict women’s reproductive rights.

  30. joe2

    Margaret was at least spared a ‘stop the birth’ chant at the critical moment.

  31. duncan

    @30 “At least she has started the ball rolling. Nobody has taken much time to put this bloke under the microscope. If people really understood what they were flirting with he would be no where near leadership of this country.”

    Why can’t he use the ‘young and naive’ excuse? Is that reserved for women?

  32. Lefty E

    Dare I say, If this third-rate douchebag (and I consider that a generous assessment) gets elected, it’ll only demonstrate to historical memory that his opponents were fourth-rate.

  33. CMMC

    It’s only in the Fourth Estate they are considered fourth-rate.

  34. Lefty E

    Again, fourth estate is probably a generous estimate of our lot.

  35. tigtog

    Why can’t he use the ‘young and naive’ excuse? Is that reserved for women?

    When Tony Abbott used his ministerial veto to block the importation of RU-486 in 2005 he was 48 years old. Interesting “definition” of “young and naive” you’ve got there.

  36. tigtog

    P.S. Abbott was in his thirtieth year when he first met his wife, let alone married her and got sprogged up. 30+ is not generally considered to be the years of youthful indiscretion, despite the fact that most of us still have much to learn at that age.

  37. SAVVY

    @Tigtog
    “30+ is not generally considered to be the years of youthful indiscretion…”

    It is according to Juliar.

  38. TerjeP

    I don’t want abortion to be criminal. Technically it is in many parts of Australia but not so much in practice. Even if Abbott wants abortion to be illegal in practice I’m not sure he could achieve that as PM. Firstly criminal law is a state issue. Secondly it would divide his party. And finally it would ignite such passionate opposition from the general population. I feel it is relatively safe to ignore the abortion issue when evaluating what Abbott would be like as PM.

  39. Occam's Blunt Razor

    Mrs Razors labours both took over 24 hours and I wasn’t there all the time.

    Looks like I can’t be PM.

  40. tigtog

    @SAVVY, forgive me if I don’t automatically grant the equivalence between (i) not realising that one’s partner was allegedly defrauding their workplace with which one was unfamiliar and (ii) deciding that a game of football was more important than one’s wife giving birth.

    Gillard did not commit any “indiscretion” in cohabiting with a lover who allegedly breached his fiduciary obligations; any indiscretion was committed by him, not her. Her naivety was, at the worst, in trusting the person she loved to be a decent person. In the simple vernacular, she was shown to be a bit of a mug.

    By contrast, the biography’s revelation about Abbott reveals him putting his macho social networking ahead of the needs of his wife. In the simple vernacular, it shows him to be a hugely selfish pig.

    hm – someone who was embarrassed by being shown up as a bit of a mug in their early thirties versus someone who experienced no censure at all at the the time for being a selfish pig in their early thirties – whom do I think is more likely to have learnt a valuable lesson from each of those events?

  41. SAVVY

    I ask again, who is the source for such detailed order of what happened in a hospital room 20-odd years ago?

    Who laid it all out for the author? Tony? His wife? The doctor or nurses?

  42. David Irving (no relation)

    Razor, you’re being obtuse. It’s not that he wasn’t present for the whole of his wife’s labour, it’s that he was so disengaged from the whole process that he preferred to play footy with his mates, then read a book, rather than spend any time with her.

  43. MichaelC58

    The progressive left hated Howard, the man who gave us 12 years of the
    best government in our history. The more the elites now hate Abbott, the more people realise he represents another 12 years of prosperity.

    If people here are scared what Abbott will do in office, you don’t need to guess – he went to the trouble of writing it all down in his manifesto, Battlelines. Perhaps Ms Winter read it.

  44. Chris

    Perhaps this is a silly question, (and I’m unlikely to ever read the book), but does the book comment on whether Abbott’s wife actually wanted him around for most of the labour? For all we know she might have preferred for his mother to be there – stranger things have happened! 🙂

  45. tigtog

    @Chris, I’d be more inclined to view that as a plausible possibility if it was one of the later births, not the first. From the various recollections shared with other first time mothers at the time, we were all damn keen to have the fathers there doing their bit, and only a few of my peers in 1993 (only a few years later than Tone’s experience) were disillusioned enough after the first birth to vocalise a wish that he just wouldn’t bother to be around for the next time.

    Obviously, people differ – but I’m still pretty sure that the average first time mum in the late 80’s would have both desired and expected her future co-parent to take an active role as a birth partner.

  46. sg

    haha, he sounds like a right arsehole. But can we believe these stories? And do we need to, given that we know that when in power he blocked RU486 and opposed stem cell research. Alternatively, pace TerjeP, do we know if he can actually achieve that much in power whatever his views?

    These seem more relevant issues than whether he read a nerdy book at the birth of his first baby.

    Incidentally:

    This was 1989, when men were expected to be present for the birth of their children and to help their wives deal with the agony of labour.

    I don’t think this is true about late ’80s expectations of men.

  47. Ron Petticrew

    Paul Walter just a quick correction Susan Mitchell most certainly was an academic, I studied Modern Australian Literature with her at Magill CAE back in the mid 80’s. Back in the days when there were 6-8 people in a tutorial.

  48. Les Bleus

    Susan Mitchell with George Negus, on Channel 10’s 6:30 last Friday:
    NEGUS: What if Tony Abbott does become prime minister . . .

    Mitchell: Be scared.

    Negus: Be scared of what?

    Mitchell: Be afraid, be very afraid. Because Tony Abbott will not, he will not govern for what the people of Australia want. Namely the majority of Australians want the euthanasia laws changed, the majority of Australians are in favour of gay marriage, the majority of Australians are in favour of stem cell research, the majority of Australians believe enshrined in law that women should have equal opportunity. He doesn’t believe any of those things.

    Negus: If he does become prime minister maybe people like yourself and a lot of other women . . .

    Mitchell: Oh, I’ll probably be locked up.

  49. Pavlov's Cat

    For all we know she might have preferred for his mother to be there.

    And one would, really, wouldn’t one. Or anybody but him, really.

  50. David Irving (no relation)

    I think you’re projecting, Dr Cat.

  51. su

    I feel it is relatively safe to ignore the abortion issue when evaluating what Abbott would be like as PM.

    Your feeling is beside the point, we know how he acted in the past, the best guide to his actions in the future. There is nothing to stop Abbott backtracking on RU486 and Postinor-2 or making access to other technologies that enable women to exercise reproductive choice more difficult in other ways. The only reason he didn’t get his way was because a backbench revolt forced a conscience vote, Sharman Stone made it clear she would cross the floor if necessary and in the end 87% of Liberal women (not B Bishop or Fierravanti-Wells or Mirabella) voted in favour of removing the Health Minister’s prerogative on RU486. Only about 47% of Liberal men voted the same way. Abbott and his pal Pyne both opposed the bill as did Brandis. Hockey, Julie Bishop and Turnbull all voted in favour. Unless the conservative stranglehold on the Liberal party loosens, all the evidence suggests that women have a lot to fear from a Liberal government

  52. Duncan

    Savvy,

    thanks for pointing out the bleeding obvious to tigtog.

    Tigtog.. I’m not sure how Gillard was ‘unfamiliar’ with the squeeze’s workplace. She met the guy through the legal work she was doing for the union, she set up his bank accounts.

    Why this doesn’t reflect on her ability to be a good PM (judgement, diligence, duty of care), but Tony’s behaviour in the birthing room does, is beyond me.

  53. Duncan

    (oh.. when I say ‘his’, at the time, she thought they were official union accounts. He subsequently used them to defraud a large sum of money).

  54. su

    I just want to add that the fear of a conservative government whose leader has demonstrated repeatedly his disdain for women and his willingness to impose restrictions upon their rights is not like, say fear of an increase in your personal tax rate. It is a fear of the destruction of rights which are still newly won, rights which men have taken for granted for centuries. I am not all that old but I remember as a child coming home to find my mother in tears because her application for a home loan had been knocked back by the bastard at the bank because she was a woman. That was her one and only shot at financial freedom, because her home would have become her only form of superannuation. It is still having consequences today.

    A vote for Abbott is a vote to turn the clock back on women’s rights. The only question is, how far.

  55. tigtog

    @Duncan, how familiar is a lawyer generally with the actual workplace of a client? Legal representation necessarily deals only with certain slices of what is going on, and so far all Gillard is accused of is merely doing her job as a solicitor acting on instruction from a client’s appointed official representative. Were they even dating yet when these accounts were set up?

    Then once the accounts had been set up as requested by the client, why would any solicitor/lawyer have necessarily known any more about the activity within such accounts over subsequent years? You are demanding an unrealistic standard compared to what usually actually happens -it’s the tax accountants who see the bank statements every year, not the lawyers.

    As for what each incident reflects about character (not ability): being conned by someone who successfully conned a lot of other people could happen to anybody, while being far from ideally supportive at the birth of one’s first child is something that only happens to a very self-centred person. Gillard strikes me as having learnt to be a bit less trusting of smooth-talking charmers since her experience, while Abbott seems to have merely reinforced over the years his tendency to always put himself first.

  56. joe2

    The Tone team know where they best like a women to be.

    “MP ‘likes’ Gillard in the kitchen”

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/mp-likes-gillard-in-the-kitchen-20111102-1mvbi.html?posted=successful

  57. Paul Norton

    Thanks to FDB’s pithy interventions we know all we need to know about how Mr Rabbit has sought to use his power over public policy decisions affecting women’s rights in the recent past, and I am satisfied that he would continue in that vein in future if Australians were sufficiently foolish to give him the opportunity to do so.

    In that light, and returning to the specific topic of Susan Mitchell’s book, the question I raised earlier of whether the book is likely to convince people who, unlike myself, Anna and several commentators, aren’t already convinced, becomes even more crucial.

  58. Paul Norton

    Comparisons between Mr Rabbit and Mr Hawke are somewhat inapt for the simple reason that there has never been a time in Bob Hawke’s adult life when he hasn’t been a secular humanist with socially liberal views, and thus receptive to feminist arguments. For example, he has been pro-choice on abortion since at least the 1950s.

    A more apt comparison would be with Kim Beazley Jnr, whose father was a lifelong devotee of Bob Santamaria’s views on issues of gender, family and sexuality, and who himself was an activist in the Moral Rearmament Movement as a young man, yet who was to a considerable degree resocialised by his second wife and adult daughters and whose public policy stances on many issues have generally been far more liberal than the personal moral beliefs he retained on those issues. Where is the evidence that Abbott has experienced a similar resocialisation?

  59. Paul Norton

    Ron [email protected]:

    Paul Walter just a quick correction Susan Mitchell most certainly was an academic, I studied Modern Australian Literature with her at Magill CAE back in the mid 80?s. Back in the days when there were 6-8 people in a tutorial. [My emphasis – PN]

    {sigh}

  60. Mindy

    ‘whether the book is likely to convince people…[who] aren’t already convinced’

    Would any book be able to do it? Perhaps we need someone like Allan Jones on side? MyNigel was treated to a demonstration of the power of Jones when in the barber’s yesterday. The customer in the chair sat down with one opinion and after his haircut and about 15 minutes of listening to Allan Jones he had done a complete 180 on his former opinion. If only AJ would use his powers for good.

  61. Patrickb

    @20
    Perhaps we can make it more impersonal, how about “that prick”?

  62. Patrickb

    @29
    “Hawke’s reputation was that of a cheerful slut”
    You’re gilding the lilly a bit dontcha think? It depends on your definition of misogyny I suppose but his cavalier attitude towards his wife and family seem to indicate he didn’t consider this sphere of activity worthy of his attention. Still, he was ideologically a feminist.

  63. Agnes

    Why are all these posts about what happened in Mrs Abbott’s delivery room? It’s none of our fucking business! The man tried to dismantle medical care for women and this is the discussion point!

    This is relevant: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1652360.htm
    This is not relevant: What book he was reading on his daughter’s birthday.

    All this gossip about what he was doing when his mini-things were hatched is tawdry nonsense.

  64. Duncan

    Agnes,

    thank you.

    Now, those allegations are very serious.. however, as pointed out, they’re hear-say.

  65. John D

    Anna: My perception was that John Howard is miles ahead of both Hawke and Abbott in the decent husband stakes. However, this doesn’t mean that I would ever have considered voting Howard.
    Looking at the amount of space taken up here by the birthing story demonstrates how easy it is for attempts to wring the last thing out of an attack can weaken the attack by focusing people on the relative trivia.

  66. BilB

    Duncan,

    What is not hearsay is that in the 2007 election Abbott promised to provide free healthcare for the over 75’s, and then just a few months later with Howard having won the election he renigged on the promise. So not only did he lie to win an election, in the ABC interview following the very quiet announcement of dishonouring the promise Abbott lied twice to the reporter. ie Abbott will say anything to get past a situation.

    The issue with this book is not “will it convince anyone that he is a good person”, the issue is has he convinced anyone other than reviewers to actually read the book in the first place. For my part not. From everything that I have seen of Abbott he cannot follow a straight path, even sober. More damming, Abbott is not even interestingly evil.

  67. su

    Oops BilB, I think you’d better read the post, the book in question isn’t Battlelines!

  68. Banksia

    A few people have stated that Abbott “opposes stem-cell research”. However, I understand he opposes only embryonic stem-cell research (which is the also the position of the Catholic Church). Many research breakthroughs are being made using non-embryonic stem cells, and it does him a disservice to imply he opposes every form of the research. There’s a world of difference – would be as inaccurate as trying to tar those against capital punishment of criminals as opposing all punishment of criminals.

    This is a mistake that is made over and over in the MSM (or at least in the Fairfax arm, which I read), which is either sloppy, misinformed or deliberate.

  69. paul walter

    Yes, 65, she’s actually lecturing in journalism at Flinders U. She is smart, knew that, just how well educated she is got under my guard.
    Agnes Day, you are right to link the dots, but the anecdotes that arouse curiosity are pointers to the sorts of personality flaws that go with non empathic pathologies and their policy consequences.
    His lack of interest in certain issues indicated in certain examples circumstantially indicates a process within his head that is likely also to produce odd results as to policy. His later callousness on certain issues was indicated early and his later responses become more predictable in light of earlier indications..
    (Drawing a long bow) that the Abbott type appears not to be an isolated phenomena, I’d add for consideration an anecdote I read at another site re Mitt Romney, another “Man with No Name” type, who is currently running for a shot at the US presidency.
    A woman acquaintance of his turned up for a termination, due to life threatening blood clots. Romney, as a Mormon bishop, hazed the woman, proposing that she could not terminate, the baby might live (or not) but the womans life-imperilled situation mattered for very little..

  70. duncan

    Bill,

    I could bring up a myriad of other broken promises from Labor… that is not the point under discussion.

  71. Robert Merkel

    Banksia, I disagree.

    That there is relatively uncontroversial research on stem cells extracted from other sources is largely irrelevant to the point – that Abbott opposes a form of medical research that offers considerable potential for the development of life-saving therapies because he has moral qualms about the use of cells from embryos.

  72. Banksia

    Robert, I was not intending to have a discussion on the ethics of embryonic stem cells here. I was pointing out that criticisms of Abbott on the issue are inaccurate (and, as stated, arguably knowingly so).

    I really hope you are not saying that it is alright to incorrectly represent someone’s position on an important issue as more extreme than it actually is, on the basis that (in your opinion) their (true) position is wrong.

  73. Banksia

    Bleedin’ heck Robert, I am still so stunned by your response @79 I’m coming back for another go:

    Other than satire, there is no justification for any professional writer/journalist to knowingly exaggerate anyone’s views on important issues; nor (if it’s not knowingly) to be too lazy to research them properly before reporting.

  74. Robert Merkel

    Getting back to the point of the post, the book, and the book’s thesis.

    One thing I simply do not understand -related to Paul Norton’s comment – is why this elephant in the room has been almost completely ignored in political debate.

  75. Mindy

    Bloody good question Robert. Maybe because they think that he doesn’t actually have a hope in hell of getting to be PM because someone in the Libs would roll him if they thought they had a sniff? Or maybe Julia is just too good a target to bother about Tony?

    Maybe they just don’t see his behaviour as an issue?

  76. Robert Merkel

    I don’t think they are, Banksia.

    Nuance often gets lost in the shorthand of political debate. In the popular mind, at least, “embryonic stem-cell research” is “stem-cell research”, in large part because the overwhelming majority of the political controversy is about that sub-strand of research.

    Furthermore, it’s my understanding of the current state of research that, at least in some applications, research based on embryonic stem cells is more promising than that based on alternative stem cell sources.

    That Tony Abbott wants to end such research, based on moral qualms that I and many others do not share, is to me the salient point, and saying that he wants to “end stem-cell research” may miss some nuance but is, frankly, not that big a deal.

    For some context, we live in a political climate where Senator Ian McDonald thinks it’s acceptable to say that “GetUp! is the Hitler Youth wing of the Greens political movement”.

  77. Banksia

    Robert @84

    “Nuance often gets lost in the shorthand of political debate.” Agreed. But it should not, and I believed that the more educated forums like LP would think it should not.

    “In the popular mind, at least, “embryonic stem-cell research” is “stem-cell research”” Only in the uneducated public mind. And even if so, the role of the quality press is to educate, rather than reinforce misperceptions. In the popular mind, asylum seekers are illegal immigrants; and Muslims are terrorists.

    “saying that he wants to “end stem-cell research” may miss some nuance but is, frankly, not that big a deal.” I think your wish to denigrate Abbott, and your own opinion on this issue, are blinding you here. I doubt you would apply this principle to issues closer to your heart. For those who do distinguish between embryonic and adult stem cells, it’s a huge deal – whether that’s those who have ethical objections to the use of embryonic cells (such as me) or those with who work in the area of medical research (me again).

    I agree we should get back to the topic of the book (haven’t read it, but if the text on the back as shown in the Mia Freedman piece is indicative, seems not worth the bother); and I’ll post no more on this issue. But I remain stunned.

  78. joe2

    Robert and Mindy hasn’t it occurred to both of you that the media might be playing favourites here. Particularly News Limited where Tone was an employee.

  79. Mindy

    @Joe2 – do they think they can control him or something?

  80. Fran Barlow

    C58 said:

    The progressive left hated Howard, the man who gave us 12 years of the best government in our history.

    12 wasted, embarrassing and at times shameful years … It was as if a pillow had been forced across the face of the country in an attempt to stifle it, only being released for long enough to see some act of debauchery — like Tampa, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or AWB or the RPP, or workchoices take place.

    There can be little doubt that Howard was the least praiseworthy PM since at least Billy MacMahon, possibly since Joe Lyons, and perhaps, all things considered, for all time.

  81. joe2

    Mindy, most interesting in the book is the Christopher Pearson connection. I have no doubt that he and other OO representatives are in constant contact with Abbott. Quite often, it seems, they work together to make up the latest news because it sure aint based on reality.

  82. jane

    Nobody has taken much time to put this bloke under the microscope.

    I think it’s more like they have very carefully avoided putting him under the microscope.

    He subsequently used them to defraud a large sum of money

    The operative word here is he. He is the one who allegedly embezzled union funds.

    Are you suggesting that Gillard assisted him or knowingly accepted any of the money or in fact had anything further to do with those accounts?

    Or that she lived in the house he allegedly purchased with funds he allegedly embezzled from the union?

    Innuendo, distortion and gossip dressed up as fact. You don’t happen to be an employee of Ltd News, by any chance?

    I didn’t like Abbott when he was a minister in the Howard government and nothing he has said or done since he became LOTO would convince me that he is PM material. I certainly wouldn’t waste time or money reading a book about him.

    Apart from his patronising hostility toward women, his treatment of Bernie Banton is one of the most informative indications of the sort of person he really is. He is not the sort of person I want as PM.

  83. Pavlov's Cat

    “Hawke’s reputation was that of a cheerful slut”
    You’re gilding the lilly a bit dontcha think?

    ‘Slut’ is gilding the lily? Gee, I wish I’d known that in high school when sluts were what private-school boys called state-school girls who beat them in inter-school debates. They didn’t seem to think it was a very nice thing to say.

    (Also, ahem, it’s ‘paint the lily’. ‘To gild refinéd gold, to paint the lily.’ Very popular misquotation.)

    *runs away*

  84. Paul Norton

    Joe @90, thanks for drawing our attention to Mr Rabbit’s connections with the Pol Pot barracker.

  85. Fran Barlow

    (Also, ahem, it’s ‘paint the lily’. ‘To gild refinéd gold, to paint the lily.’ Very popular misquotation.)

    Indeed Pavlov’s Cat …

    From the character “Salisbury”, in Shakespeare’s King John

    Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
    To guard a title that was rich before,
    To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw a perfume on the violet,
    To smooth the ice, or add another hue
    Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
    To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
    Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

    I can see why the phrase has appeared in its current form though, since ‘painting the lily’ doesn’t quite sound the same as ‘gilding refined gold’ and the latter is also harder to say and a little more banal. I also suspect that many contemporary people using the phrase actually wouldn’t know what ‘gilding’ meant.

  86. Fran Barlow

    Damn … blockquote markup error!!

    [Fixed – ed]

  87. Martin B

    The horse bolted on that phrase 70 years ago.

    (And I suspect most of the modern references to “paint the lily” are people on internet forums telling us all about the original quotation.)

  88. Fran Barlow

    Thanks for the link Martin B … very interesting. AIUI the first recordfed use of the phrase was in 1895. M-W Dictionary of English Phrases suggests the repeated “il” (in lily and gild) makes for euphony.

    Astonishingly, when I clicked on one of the “gild the lily” references — a book by James Randel called Street Smarts: Beyond the Dilemma it says that gilding the lily means “making a bad situtation worse”. That’s about 170 degrees from its normal usage.

  89. Patrickb

    @92
    I submit, Your Honour, that the complaint’s use of the word “cheerful” in their assessment of Hawke slutishness leads one to believe that they consider Hawke to have been rather pleased with his slutishness and that this rather devalued the use of the word “slut” as a term of derision. However if that ground is insufficient and be that as it may, I further submit that the complainant has entirely missed the point.

  90. Patrickb
  91. joe2

    Paul Norton you mentioned that back here…
    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/08/04/the-smirks-unauthorised-biography-of-julia-gillard-or-abbott-and-costello-meet-pol-pot/

    Chris is a regular reader here. Maybe he will explain.