The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

I don’t hate Howard – I despise his values

“What is noticeably missing from the debate about how Rudd might be different from Howard can be quite simply stated – Rudd couldn’t possibly be such a small-minded, backward-looking, mean-spirited, jingoistic, divisive, fear-mongering bastard as Howard is. Anything has got be better than that.”

I’ve always been something of a fan of Harry Clarke’s posts on economics, but lately Harry’s been wearing his Howard supporter’s heart somewhat on his sleeve. Like many of his colleagues, he is clearly going through the early stages of grief over Howard’s fall from ascendancy, most notably denial. Harry wrote yesterday about Kevin Rudd’s ‘me-tooism’ and attacked what he sees as ‘irrational’ Howard-haters, joining a chorus of Paul Kelly and John Roskam in suggesting that there is so little difference between Rudd and Howard that we may as well re-elect Howard. Harry’s post inspired me to comment, distilling some thoughts I had been musing over in recent days, but not having found the energy to put them together in a coherent fashion – sufficient to repeat in a post here at The Dog’s Bollocks:

Robert Manne put it best last week on Lateline when he said that the Right so thoroughly dominate the political polemic at the moment that it is pointless for Rudd to make a stand on any number of hot-button issues – he would be crucified – and that it will be three or four years before we really know what Rudd will do and how he will do it.

This is perfectly illustrated today by the MSM going off like a frog in a sock over Rudd’s reprimand of McClelland’s speech against capital punishment, with hysterical claims that Labor is in disarray and that Rudd is an insincere hypocrite when it is Howard’s moral ambivalence that is the more important question. He is accused of being morally compromised because he has the same policy as Howard and therefore he is morally weak. WTF??

This from a government and cheer squad that wouldn’t know a moral stance if it stood on them. Think SEIV X, the AFP sacrifice of the Bali 9, a $300 million donation to a ‘terrorist’ regime, an illegal war in Iraq while simultaneously working to disallow Iraqi refugees, the neutering of Native Title – the list goes on, but these will do for a start. These are all issues with significant moral and ethical resonance for many people. Howard’s dealings in these areas I personally find morally repugnant. So no, I don’t hate Howard, and even if I did, I wouldn’t regard it as being irrational. I despise him and his many offensive policies and values.

Howard apologists such as Paul Kelly, John Roskam and your good self are taking great pains to demonstrate how remarkably similar Rudd and Howard are (the ‘me-tooism’) – presumably, therefore we should all vote for Howard again. Nice try. But what is noticeably missing from the debate about how Rudd might be different from Howard can be quite simply stated – Rudd couldn’t possibly be such a small-minded, backward-looking, mean-spirited, jingoistic, divisive, fear-mongering bastard as Howard is. Anything has got be better than that. Howard has lost the favour of the Australian people. Signs are there that they want a more principled and effective leadership in a whole range of policy areas such as education, health, community infrastructure, foreign affairs, climate change, IR, etc.

After more than 11 years team Howard are out of ideas and looking and sounding tired. His supporters are in denial if they think he can come back from this.

Personally I’d rather a leader whose values are informed by the Jesuit intellectual traditions of social justice than disciples of dead Austrian economists and the Jesus Wants Me to Be Rich and Not Gay crowd.

The first stage is denial. Anger follows. It must be hard to swallow after a decade of political superiority, but it’s going to happen and life will not be the same again, for better or worse. Hopefully it will be for the better because it can only get worse under the current mob.


To my way of thinking, Australia in the 90s was finally emerging from the culturally cringing mediocrity of the 50s, confident in the world as an independent, tolerant, and forward-thinking nation, punching well above its weight. Howard’s non-economic legacy has been to return Australia to the fearful, divisive mindset of those bad old days while uncritically embracing the radical neo-conservative policies of the Bush administration and has impoverished the Australian spirit and our standing in the world. Even Howard’s economic legacy is not that wonderful as we reap the consequences in years to come. There is more to good economic management than easy-profit coupon-clipping and public penny-pinching.

If this is the price that Harry and others are willing to pay for economic ‘progress’ and material wealth, then I would happily settle for less prosperity to live in nation respected for its moral, ethical, generous and tolerant character.


Filed under: Australian values, Federal Election 2007, Ideology, Media, Politics

4 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Slim! Well said! (Again). Try to get it published (somewhere else.) I’d strongly suggest offshore.

  2. slim says:

    Thanks Caroline – it’s always gratifying to know that others appreciate the hours we spend writing these blog things!

    I was thinking that it’s a pity The SMAGE or Australian would never publish such a viewpoint, even though they regularly publish John Roskam’s uncritical partisan rubbish. Maybe I’ll polish it up a bit and try my luck. The MSM are rather jealous of their turf ‘though and don’t regard bloggers as ‘proper’ journalists or writers.

  3. Yardup says:

    Hey Slim,
    I agree, very well put…I too have been having some serious issues with Team Howard of late and am finding myself yelling at the radio at least several times a day! I’m glad you’re out there serving it up to ’em for all of us that can only sit at the traffic lights and scream at the dashboard!

  4. Caroline says:

    Forget about trying to get it published here. Australian editors are threatened and clearly non-plussed, by anything of this quality coming in from an unknown source, you probably wouldn’t even get a response and even if they did pick it up, they’d want to publish it free of charge. I’d suggest the Guardian. From whom at least, you’d be likely to get an encouraging rejection at worst along with some verification that they had actually read it.

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