Friday, June 25, 2010
Songs for Kevin (or: let's save money and just let Clive Palmer elect our leaders)
“I've never seen a night so long, when time goes crawling by ... The silence of a falling star, lights up a purple sky ... And I'm so lonesome I could cry.” Seasick Steve gives his rendition of the Hank Williams' classic, looking just like our fallen PM will after a decade of drinkin' to forget, with a chaser to kill the pain.
Christ, it was a sad sight that press conference. Kevin Rudd in tears after getting dumped as Dear Leader before his first term even finished after enjoying record approval ratings for almost the whole time since we threw out that other fascist Johnny Someone.
It was hard not to feel sorry for the little guy. He got brutally knifed by a political machine uglier than a local council-commissioned public sculpture on the theme of “Harmony”, and more brutal than a Mafia gang that’s just discovered a snitch who not only ratted to the Feds but also claimed the Don’s breath smelt.
Then I remembered that not only did Mr Rudd utterly fail to confront the somewhat urgent threat of runaway climate change, despite calling it the “greatest moral challenge of our time” and the mounting evidence of impending catastrophe.
No, much worse — he also declared war on booze.
The little fucking weasel.
Now I don’t like to boast, but I gotta say: Carlo Sands called it.
Hell, I called this one two years ago with an insightful, razor-sharp comment piece entitled Rudd’s honeymoon over? Let’s ask Tex Perkins.
Now, it goes without saying that Carlo Sands is never wrong. Sometimes, however, I am ahead of my time.
Some may argue that my call that Rudd’s “honeymoon” with the Australian people was over, coming more than a year-and-a-half before his record-levels of popular support began to seriously erode, was a little hasty.
I, however, prefer to call it prescient.
So what went wrong? How did Rudd go from record popularity to being the first Labor PM ever dumped by his own party before his first term even ended?
I think the history books will clearly record the seeds of Rudd’s destruction lay in the ill-fated decision in his first year in office to run a campaign declaring four standards drinks (that’s less than three stubbies!) to be “binge drinking”.
This alienated him from both the public at large and the Labor party machine. I mean, have you seen how much those factional headkickers drink? No wonder they knifed him with such glee.
But there were clearly some other, if secondary, factors at work.
Rudd basically continued the same policies as the former Howard government in all key areas. But most of all, his failures on climate change cost him big.
The serious slide in Rudd’s popularity coincided with his government’s decision to dump its proposed “emissions trading scheme”, which it had been touting as the solution to the threat of total eco-destruction.
Environmentalists actually pointed out the ETS itself was just political window dressing that not only would not reduce carbon emissions, but would actually make the problem worse.
But that is neither here nor there. The decision to dump it as soon as it became a “hard sell” revealed Rudd for the unprincipled, power-hungry weasel he is. It made him look cynical, hypocritical and totally untrustworthy.
Plus, the climate issue is kinda urgent.
But worse was to come for our wowser PM.
Desperate to make up lost ground and searching for an issue that would prove popular and make him seem like he actually stood for something more than his own career, Rudd made the ill-fated decision to seek to impose a quite modest “supertax” on the extremely wealthy large mining corporations currently enjoying record profits.
The 40% tax only kicked in once the profit rate exceed 6%, was bound up with continuing subsidies to the sector, was full of loopholes and was going to be used to cut the corporate tax rate overall from 32% to 28%.
But my god did the billionaire shriek like a three-year-old whose favourite teddy got washed down a sewer.
These principled men, who like to whine about “economic blackmail” should any of their workforce dare engage in industrial action, immediately threatened to bring the country to its knees with a coordinated “capital strike”.
They went on telly to deliver their snarling threat: Dump the mining tax or thousands of jobs get it!
They immediately embarked on a well-funded media campaign, with attack ads promising all life on Earth would come to a screeching halt if Rudd wasn’t stopped.
Seeing a chance to get the Liberals back in, the Murdoch media and shock jocks jumped on the bandwagon.
Suddenly it was 1951 all over again and the Communists were coming to eat our babies.
Rudd, weakened by his “binge drinking” and climate disasters, was in no position to withstand the assault.
Even if the multi-national corporations failed to exactly win public sympathy for their plight, they caused enough unease and fear to ensure Rudd’s poll slide worsened.
With an election just months away, the Labor machine didn’t need to be told twice. Rudd was dumped and the mining shares rose at once. Gillard’s first move was to sue for peace.
As the saying goes, it's all fun and games until someone tries to tax the mining giants.
I must admit, it does make me wonder whether all the effort of getting 20 million people to vote is just an inefficient waste of our time and hard-earned taxpayers money.
Surely it would be much cheaper and time-efficient to just get the Business Council of Australia to hold a straw poll on who should hold the keys to the Lodge. Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt could be granted a vote at the council when the question arises, just so all key stakeholders have a say.
That way, the rest of us wont lose an hour of valuable drinking time one Saturday every three years and the good businessfolk can ensure the corporate tax rate is set at the responsible, investor-friendly level of -75%.
In the end, Rudd managed to alienate both his own social base and the extremely powerful forces that actually govern this godforsaken country. The generals moved in for the kill and the coup was quick — if disappointingly bloodless.
It is a shame the our new Dear leader wants to suck up to the Evil Forces Threatened All Life on Earth (known as “miners” in the press for some inexplicable reason, despite never having fossicked for anything more than a hors d’oeuvre that fell under the table at a cocktail party to celebrate another record breaking profit return).
But, to date, she is yet to announce her policy on booze. Therefore, Carlo Sands withholds his judgment.
As for Mr Rudd, all that’s left for him is to redeem himself in true country music style. He must now take his guidance from Merle Haggard.
“I got swingin' doors, a jukebox and a bar stool. My new home has a flashin' neon sign. Stop by and see me anytime you want to, coz I'm, always here at home till closing time...”
If Kevin Rudd had any dignity or self-respect, this is how he would spend his declining years.