Glenn Milne has lost the ability to communicate with people about politics because he has missed the point about what politics is. Maybe he's got Oscars fever and wishes he was in LA rather than Manuka, as you can see from drivel like this:
the Government was actually undergoing a real crisis over whether the global financial meltdown would give it the cover it needs to dump its Emissions Trading Scheme in its present form. Which would have been important had voters actually noticed.
I blame the lousy, self-indulgent press gallery, Milney. Your employer, your whole profession is going down the tubes - and there's you, with your long and distinguished record of bringing environmental issues to the attention of the wider public and their elected representatives, you're whinging about attention deficit disorder (the fact that others aren't paying you the attention you'd like). Your confusion is obvious:
And who could blame the public for being transfixed? The Liberal script was compelling. Curtain Up: Helpless blonde heroine tied to Ghan railway track by erstwhile friends and supporters. Climax: Train approaches relentlessly en route to Perth.
Milney, little milney, the Ghan runs north-south between Adelaide and Darwin. A train going west to Perth would miss anyone tied to that track. Junior journos get chipped for howlers like that. Senior Press Gallery Doyens should know better.
What makes you think "the public" is "transfixed" by a hoary old cliche that didn't even survive the era of talking pictures, which was obsolete by the time Federal Parliament first met in Canberra? Just because you're a hoary old cliche doesn't mean we all are.
The truth is the opportunity cost of having missed the chance to nail the Government over its ETS dilemma is only one of many going by as the Liberals fail spectacularly to resolve their doubts about Malcolm Turnbull and their yearnings for Peter Costello.
The fun ain't done, as you know: the Liberal-Green committee investigation in the Senate is the most interesting political story since the election - and of course you've missed it. The very idea that the Rudd government might be playing the hare against the Liberals' tortoise is a prospect that haunts all progressives.
Whose yearnings, by the way? Have you noticed that those who once, um, pined for Costello no longer do, and vice versa? Isn't that interesting? Would you call them yearnings, or is Costello becoming more like William Hughes Mearns' man upon the stair? What are our chances of getting a (frightfully well-connected) press gallery doyen to write about that?
Rather than draw on that experience, though, you've been sucked into flattery:
... in the middle of last week a senior member of Labor's NSW Right emailed me with their analysis of what's really going on with Kevin Rudd. What was truly surprising though was their request that I publish it. I can only guess on the assumption that a crippled Opposition lacks the wit to shine lights where they need to be shone.
What follows is a fascinating account of how Rudd has gone about shoring up his power base inside the Government.
How easy it is to draw this little man away from any issues of the day: load on the flattery and dangle un harengs rouge, and he's anyone's.
So eloquent is my emailer I'll let them take up the tale: "When Rudd came to power in late 2006 it was on the back of a strange grouping," they write. "Essentially it was recognised by Rudd and his supporters that the only way that he could get the numbers to execute Beazley was through a deal with Julia Gillard, that she got Deputy Leader and on that basis would deliver her supporters and a majority of the Victorian Left through (Victorian powerbroker) Kim Carr.
"This was an unholy alliance.
That's it? Hot news from three years ago, all publicly available at the time? Pretty sad idea of eloquence, Milney - though I guess if you hungered for eloquence Canberra isn't where you'd go.
... upon coming to power Rudd has moved quickly to consolidate what every leader before him has had at some time: the firm following of the NSW Right.
"The former NSW premier Bob Carr is a close confidant of Rudd and has been instrumental in persuading him of the necessity to form this base.
"Carr (was) horrified to see the control that Gillard (had) in deciding the ministry (witness Joel Fitzgibbon, Simon Crean, Kim Carr, Warren Snowdon, Brendan O'Connor: all Gillard supporters). A key player in the Rudd leadership battle and also the restoration of the NSW Right has been Mark Arbib, first as secretary of the NSW Party and now as a senator.
In other words, the NSW Right has made as much of a hash of Canberra as they have of Macquarie Street. If Arbib weaves his special magic then Gillard might be stepping up sooner than she might think.
"Rudd ordered support for Arbib's efforts and has encouraged the rise in profile of his lieutenants. As everybody knows Rudd's media office ruthlessly centralises and controls the media appearances of ministers. With this control they have been able to ensure that Arbib, Chris Bowen (a trusted Arbib and Rudd loyalist) and Jason Clare (seen as a future talent) have been awarded regular media appearances to aid their profile.
Bowen comes across like a hack in his column in the Herald, a poor choice on their part and ultimately not doing Bowen many favours. Jason Clare could, if he works hard and keeps his nose clean, become the next Alan Cadman or Gary Nairn. Something to look forward to, eh Milney?
(Arbib has his own column in The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney).
Yeah, but so do you and nobody reads that either. Arbib is the next Stephen Looseley, but without the charisma or the FDR Fun Facts.
"Second, Steve Hutchins has been told he is to go as he has been a vocal critic within the party over Rudd's leadership and largely is seen as an unreliable waste of space.
Apart from his criticisms of Rudd, though, you'd hardly call Hutchins a waste of space because, um, because, oh I can't fight it - Milney, your interlocutor is just as much a political doyen as you. Now that Alan Ramsey has retired, nobody else can wield the extensive blockquote quite so well as your own self. This paragraph is proof that this is not a hatchet job, enjoy it while it lasts.
Graeme Wedderburn['s] ... job is to control Rees and ensure that (the) NSW Government does not hurt Rudd at (the) next election.
Great, another reason not to vote Labor. The Euthanasia Man can best represent New South Wales in dealing with the crucial issues of our time? Let's hope he gets nowhere near any infrastructure spending (I mean real infrastructure, not fixing the toilets at Marginal Heights Primary), every toll road in Sydney can be blamed in part on this clown. C'mon Milney, do I have to do your job for you?
"Arbib's targets are: Joel Fitzgibbon, seen as closer to the Victorian Hard Left (especially Kim Carr and Gillard) due to his support of (former Labor Leader Mark) Latham and Gillard.
"Robert McClelland, seen as a real gentleman but plays no active role in the Right.
What a political matador this Arbib is: first he targets a minister who is more than holding his own, at a particularly crucial time for the nation. Then he targets a nuf-nuf who's tired and ready to go anyway. The idea that McClelland is both "a real gentleman" and "plays no active role in the Right" is, of course, a tautology: the conjunctive "but" is misplaced.
At a time when our legal system must confront:
- the adequacy of corporate and prudential regulations;
- federal-state relations;
- privacy and the accessibility of toxic content on the internet;
- our changed and changing relationship with Aborigines;
- the reach of foreign treaties; and even
- basic human rights (remember them?)
Why have such a weak link in the key position of Attorney General? Is this not an indictment of Rudd? I couldn't have imagined an Attorney General who'd make Ruddock look good. Never mind scoops from three years ago Milney, that is the story to be written. You could even force Rudd's hand - goodness knows George Brandis won't do it.
... there are those who ... stress that Fitzgibbon is a favourite of Rudd's who's performed extremely well in Defence, and who Arbib supports.
So does our Defence Minister, in a time of war, have the Prime Minister's full support - or merely his "full support"? That's another story - with all its implications - that a grown-up political correspondent like Paul Kelly would have written.
Apart from a spot in Cabinet, and the scalps of big game like Mr Stroganoff and Tired Bob on his belt, what does Arbib want and why?
Milney's latest would have been an appalling article had it not been so typical of this stunted, ridiculous little man. So many important issues left begging, a career utterly wasted and what should be a fatal inability to tell eloquence from flatulence. Don't anyone dare ask for public support for newspapers so long as ink is wasted upon this twerp.