Feb 112009
 

Time yet again to take up the ravings of the mindless right-wing ideologue brigade.


This time, it’s that know-all, know-nothing op-ed scribbler, Janet Albrechtsen. She and Piers Akerman have to be the most humourless writers in the Australian right-wing media camarilla today. Their ideological glass is always less than half empty, and John Winston Howard is still dragged, stinking and decayed, into every argument they try to push.
Albrechtsen’s piece today is no different. Her tirade is smeared from top to bottom with strawman arguments and appeals to ridicule which betray her real intent. That being to villify the leader of the party that won a democratic election less than 15 months ago, while attempting to draw comparisons to the vanquished opposition after eleven long years of misdirection and repression. She attempts to draw parallels between eleven years of conservative wave-surfing on the reforms from the Keating era with 14.5 months of democratic socialism which is beset with the impacts of the worst global economic downturn since 1933. She attempts to claim that Kevin Rudd, as a politican, is not entitled to indulge in rhetoric, while her now politically deceased hero, Howard, is praised for doing so through the epithet of ‘pragmatism’.

Confidence in a leader comes from knowing who they are and what they believe. Love him or loathe him, Howard was known to friend and foe. His political beliefs remained steady and he pursued them often against the orthodoxy of the time. Pragmatism was, of course, part of Howard’s political make-up. For example, he rejected a GST only to later embrace it as part of much needed tax reform, despite the political risks. But Rudd is an entirely different leader. There is not a single instance of Rudd taking a responsible but unpopular decision. With philosophical principles impossible to pin down, his only consistent and coherent belief is in political power. Every Rudd position has been determined by how to get it and, now, how to keep it.

Quite honestly, I see no difference between the Howardian brand of pragmatism and the Rudd brand of pragmatism, as Albrechtsen describes it. She is nothing if not naive if she truly believes that politics is anything other than securing and retaining governmental power by whatever means necessary. If that means being populist – as Howard continually was through pork-barrelling – regional developments scheme – or cash handouts at election time disguised as tax cuts, that is what a politician will do.
The only true comparison between the Howardian brand of neo-liberal conservative hard-rightwing politics, and the Rudd brand of left-of-centre social democracy will be public opinion at the ballot box in 2010, and with any justice, again in 2013. Given Labor can carry public opinion into a second term, it is my belief that only in 2013 will we know the true worth of the Rudd brand of government. The rantings of ideologues like Albrechtsen in the interim are simply examples of disenchanted conservatism out of touch with reality, unprepared for change and unwilling realise they stand stationary on the roadside while the rest of the country passes them by. Such lonely souls, tormented and screaming visionless into the darkness of their own frustration.