Gillard has an agenda that opens more possibilities than it closes and she has the skill to carry it off. The whole idea that she can't sell anything is vanishing before our eyes as the feisty, no-nonsense do-er and fighter comes out from behind the front of that droning lawyer.
Gillard always had a shifty persona so long as everything she said was always about what she was going to do, rather than concrete examples of what she was doing or had done. With the uncertainties of a hung parliament, differences (vast gulfs?) opened up between what she said she was gunna do and what actually happened. Nobody likes a gunna. The topics she has campaigned on - carbon pricing in particular - has been remote from people.
Aside from individuals within caucus who have personal grudges against her, the whole anti-Gillard push on within the ALP now assumes that the pattern of the past year must continue into the next. This idea assumes that she's the first Prime Minister to ever suffer such abysmal polling (ignoring the fact that Howard and Keating had similar satisfaction levels at about the same point in their terms that Gillard is experiencing now). This is unforgivable for experienced members of the press gallery, all the more so the louder they trumpet their nous, and their insider contacts and experience.
Examples of this include Peter Hartcher, and the one-man press-gallery tribute act you have when Graham Young is unavailable, Malcolm Farnsworth. Hartcher-Farnsworth have basically written the same article. By citing polling data about the past year and even digging up the odd historical flourish from 1939, they assume a historical gravitas they don't have and assert a right to impose that lagging-indicator data forward onto a very different year, which is not supported by the different challenges of the year ahead. From that, they gravely intone that Gillard is finished and the sooner Labor turns back to Rudd the better for them.
Rudd's performance Friday morning, trying to whip up the sort of storm that blew away Malcolm Turnbull from the Liberal leadership in 2009, revealed for the first time what all those Labor insiders say about him being unhinged. No amount of bagging by Crean, Swan or anyone else so damned Rudd as his own words. If what happened in 2010 was a 'coup', his family wouldn't have been standing with him: they'd be dead or imprisoned, because that's what happens in coups. Anyone who'd told Therese Rein that they liked/trusted Kevin, even if they were just making polite conversation, would be in a similar position. If Rudd has said something like that in the heat of the moment in June 2010 it would have been forgivable, but having been involved in the events of Libya and Syria and being aware of other events of that nature - after all that, to still insist that he was the victim of a coup shows he lacks the perspective necessary to hold high office.
Rudd came roaring back with a doozy Friday afternoon though, but the sort of performance that blew your socks off in 2006 is foreseeable six years later. You can appreciate it on a whole different level once you realise that Rudd's fits of ability to combine competence and passion, where he not only states a case and can see it through, are as rare and delicate and doomed like some striking butterfly.
Nobody likes a gunna, but 2012 is the year when there will be more, not less, of this persona: education as both the coping mechanism for economic change for adults, and as the embodiment of faith in and care for children. This is why Rudd wants to be PM now, why he can't and won't wait for the dish to be served cold later in the year or even next. The backroom negotiations have been done - yes, by Gillard - and she has set a pattern whereby legislated outcomes bear a strong resemblance to what she stated up front was going to happen. It is entirely possible that the carbon price compensation will be received with the same degree of appreciation that Rudd's $900 was a few years ago - and Rudd would rather he was there handing out the cheques, rather than Gillard.
If people get some appreciation that it's Gillard who came through with what Rudd promised, it would be unfair to dump her in favour of a showboating man who talked and talked and didn't deliver because he thought it was all about him. If that realisation takes hold, Rudd is finished. If Labor dumped Gillard in favour of Rudd at some future stage, and Rudd turned out to be less than the saviour he promised, that romanticised image of Australia's first woman Prime Minister would take hold. Women who can't bear Tony Abbott would reconsider voting Coalition if the ALP turns out to be as bad or worse, which they would be if they dumped Gillard at the very time when the hard work was done and the benefits started flowing.
Both Rudd and Gillard are imperfect, but who are you going to back to change? Rudd's supporters say you'd have to be a mug not to have learned anything, but there's no real proof that he has. Rudd's going to smash the factions while deferring to them to choose his ministry - yeah, right. It's Gillard who grows on the job while Rudd only seemed to buckle.
I stand by what I said a couple of weeks ago in terms of media being players rather than just reporters, a bit like arsonists calling the fire brigade. I fully endorse this piece by Tim Dunlop and note that Lenore Taylor has borne out the conflicted role of the politico-media complex here:
The past few days in politics have been like the penultimate scene in a police drama. The main characters have finally come clean with the truth they have been withholding all this time, and the selfless reasons they did not confess it sooner.Here Taylor is claiming that she's hearing this for the first time. Let the record show that she dutifully reported what she knew to be "malarky" without letting her readers in on this. A few paragraphs later we see what we might call "the Real Lenore":
The truth, and what a relief it is to finally hear it, is that they acted in defence of the nation. They didn't knife Kevin Rudd that winter night because his "good government had lost its way" after all - hah! we never did believe that malarky - but because they were saving us from an erratic, disdainful, dithering, egomaniac presiding over a paralysed government.
In September 2010, soon after the election, I set out to discover exactly what had gone wrong during the Rudd government, speaking to scores of ministers, advisers and senior public servants.I underwent a similar search at that time, but because all I had to go on was the mainstream media it left me none the wiser. Thanks for telling us, Lenore, particularly those of us who follow these events more closely than most and are the sorts of consumers your employers would most hope to attract and retain. Thanks for all those articles in 2010 and 2011 quoting all those unnamed sources as to what a continuous balls-up life was like in the Rudd Government. If the Opposition had that insight into all that wasted effort, time, and money, they probably wouldn't be the Opposition any more (and we'd be no better governed). After this past month journalists can stop pretending that they're above quoting unnamed sources, and that they have an excuse for not telling us what they knew back then: there is no reason at all why all of those stories relying on anonymous sources couldn't have been written and published in 2010. We've all been had by the press gallery - stuff the lot of them.
The picture that emerged is entirely consistent with the things ministers are saying on the record now.
One man knows what mugs the press gallery are better than most: Tony Abbott. His statement on foreign affairs is not only the foreign policy you have when you don't have a foreign policy, but the policy statement you try on when there is no Minister for Foreign Affairs to shoot it down. Read it and imagine what Rudd or Stephen Smith or Gareth Evans would have done with piffle like that: "Jakarta-centred", I ask you. This is what happens when a political party assumes they're cruising into government with no serious opposition or scrutiny. How many years do you think it would take people like Lenore Taylor to look into the blank face of the alternative government and wonder what's going on behind it?
Rudd fans are wrong to assume that their man can or should reap the rewards for work he was incapable of performing when he had a majority and considerable goodwill behind him; Albanese's position is just sentimentality from a jobs-for-life age. I accept what Piping Shrike says about the meltdown of factionalism but it's Gillard who negotiates that fluid situation while anyone can just call them "fuckers" and assume the problem will go away. Gillard should win because she's done the work and should reap the rewards - and is more likely to pass on those rewards to her party, and the nation beyond. God help us all if we again become dependent on the whims of one man dumped so determinedly by those who worked most closely with him, who'll come in and reap the work of others and turn it to 'custard' - just like Gillard used to be accused of doing before she started to achieve something beyond the job itself.