September 16, 2012

Abbott's Character

Despite having a wife, three daughter's, a female deputy leader, and a scary female chief of staff, Tony Abbott is, we're told, an old style woman-hater, a born to privileged bloke who believes he is destined to rule - because he's a bloke.  He's also a Catholic, in a country that doesn't 'trust in god'. 

According to one female pollie, women think Abbott is "shifty". 

Many of the great unwashed, bemoaning Abbott's image problem with women, are entirely comfortable with the idea of the very rich, born-to-rule, arrogant Malcolm Turnball, or the less savory and greatly more arrogant Kev Rudd.  If the next federal election was a battle between born to rule rich white guys, Turnball would win.  Abbott wouldn't have a chance.

The attacks on Abbott compel me to cast votes (numerous of them, when the time comes), for the Liberal Party.  The old-school feminist hatred being hurled at Abbott is puzzling.  John Howard never suffered such abuse, despite, clearly, not being a new-age guy (the cardigans and tracksuits were a dead giveaway).  Downer had a moment, making a battering joke, but no one accused him of displaying anything worse than extremely poor judgement. 

I remember a thing or two about myself from 35 years ago, bits and pieces, broken scenes from a broken film, like most people.  If ten eye witnesses to something that happened ten minutes ago gave their statements to police, they would all have something different to tell.  Tested in court at some later date, many of those first hand accounts would be proven to be wrong by even a moderately adequate barrister.  Yet, 35 years on, many trees died during the week for the purpose of recording endless commentary, assertions and refutations, about stuff Tony Abbott did or didn't do at university 35 years ago.

Our politics has come to this?  Yes, indeedy.

I don't doubt that Abbott was and is a bit of a thug; he suffers foot and mouth disease like all politicians.   He was, with certainty, a bit of a dickhead when he was at university, as was every other person silly enough and committed enough to be involved in campus politics and student unions.  He lost against a woman, and was pissy about it.  He later won that role, clearly not so bad that other students were repelled by him.  Abbott was also a Rhodes Scholar, which requires academic excellence plus exemplary character.

I don't doubt he did and likely still does harbor a range of less than liberated thinking about women, and we know that he holds numerous Catholic beliefs that he'd like to impose on the rest of society, if he could.  The fact is, he's not an ideal PM candidate.  He's a loose cannon, a man with unwieldy economic ideas, and no particular vision for where he would take this country - much like our Labor leaders, peas in the same pod.  He might not be worth electing, all things considered, but neither is Turnball, Rudd, Swan, Gillard, Shorten and all the rest.

The shrewish gender war being waged against Abbott is an irrelevant diversion, and reflects poorly on Labor.  The suggestions that this attack is the equivalent of dredging up Julia Gillard's dodgy dealings for her lover when she was a professional lawyer doesn't hold up to inspection.  This new "evidence" against Abbott, from student days, is just that:  new, and from student days; not from professional dealings, not from his adult years (regardless of how growed-up uni students like to believe themselves, they are often embarrassingly childish and ignorant, which is what makes campus politics so funny.) 

Abbott is not a shoe-in for being the next Prime Minister.  He has a massive amount of work to do, not least in explaining his absurdly out of control and unaffordable policies, none of which will contribute to current or future productivity.  He has committed to things that will prove hugely difficult and disruptive to the economy, if he follows through (eg, rolling back the carbon emissions tax, rolling out generous and unnecessary maternity payments).  To date, Abbott  has not promised to do anything economically defensible.  In short, he has not promised to improve the country.  His shadow Treasurer has promised to slash the public sector, which is already bleeding from several major arteries.  None of this is appealing, no matter your gender.  

Instead of playing the game, the ALP is playing the man, which is staggering, considering how much material they have to work with.  Don't trust Abbott, hey?  His character is suspect?  He has no respect for women?
Trust, instead, Julia Gillard and her band of shrill, incompetent, economically irresponsible men and women?  Don't trust the shifty Abbott, who, for all appearances, is genuinely open to all people, and is basically a kind and caring man?  

The ALP has picked the wrong battle, but that is the way of their peoples. 

What Tony Abbott did or didn't do 35 years ago at university

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