So, here we have Little Johnny Howler once again creating havoc in the playground by name-calling and picking on the new boy.
Was he out of line in speaking out against Barack Obama’s rather intemperate announcement that if elected President, he’d have American military out of Iraq by March 2008? Was Obama out of line making such a statement, when all he’s really done is announce that he’s a candidate for Democratic Party selection in the run-off for party representative in the Presidential poll? Quite frankly, Bannerman believes both men were as much at fault for speaking out of turn. It is certainly an unwritten convention in international politics that state leaders do not involve themselves in other state’s domestic politics. It can be said that Howard wasn’t delving into U.S. domestic politics, but critiquing what he perceived to be a rather asinine statement by a somewhat naive foreign politician. Sure, it can be said. It’s hardly accurate though. As Dubya’s lapdog, Howard feels it’s his place to attack anyone stepping over the conservative boundary line on Iraq. That’s exactly what he did. Obama ventured onto sacred ground, so Johnny bit him. Or rather gummed him. As out of place as Howard may have been in his jibe, his rhetoric is hardly more than a gnats annoyance in the grand scheme. Dubya might have appreciated the input, but more likely would have issued a "Git in be’ind" to Howard’s outburst.
Obama also, to Bannerman’s mind, blundered badly, although his comeback to Howard was rather telling. America does have 100 times more to lose by staying the Iraq course, both in human terms and in political terms, than Australia does. Obama acted in a euphoric moment, pandering to that growing ground-swell of American opinion that Iraq has become an American graveyard. Certainly, Bush doesn’t look in the least likely to be extracting any military component before he retires at the end of this year. History will judge him accordingly for his obstinacy on Iraq. Obama would have been better served keeping his mouth shut for now, ensuring that he does actually get a tilt at the big chair, and maybe then give the disenchanted American public what they want to hear. Little Johnny will, by that time, be in the old PM’s retirement home, well and truly a has-been and not to be taken in the least seriously by the media. Whereas right now, said media is dining out. Bit of a gift really.
As for what Labor has to say, well, that’s all so predictable, isn’t it? They have to make some statement, especially given the hue and cry put up by the Howardians over Mark Latham’s gob-spray to Bush in 2003. Tit for tat really. It’s not the done thing to scratch around in another country’s political sandbox. Howard knows this, yet he felt he ought to call out the new boy. Of course, we all know he’s testing Labor on the Iraq issue again. Trying to force a wedge into the former policy of bringing troops home by Christmas, or some such thing. Sensibly, and Bannerman notes, expectedly, Rudd’s response has been measured and succinct. Howard deserved a censure in the House, deserved to be castigated for his sly rhetorical jibes. Australia has troops in Iraq. A representative presence only. As lapdog, he would have been better served allowing his master to attend to the intruder on what he perceives as hallowed ground. Now he’s opened a chink in his armor which shows him to be brash, disdainful of international diplomatic conventions, and generally a political busy body sticking his beak in where it’s not required. Bannerman notes that Dubya hasn’t said ’boo’ about the whole affair. He’s letting Johnny take the boot to the chops. Besides, he has plenty to be going on with.
Bannerman holds this entire business to be a stormy-teacup. A rather desperate political ploy by Howard to draw out his own domestic opposition, which has failed miserably. If anyone is left looking the dill, it’s him. Obama will recover. He has popular American electorate sentiment on his side, despite the stupidity of his statement. Now listen, Johnny! Take this pointed cap and go sit in the corner until election day, and do try not to make yourself look anymore the ass than you already do, will you.