Geoff Honnor has noted a couple of interesting ironies which occurred recently in the world's leading constitutional gerontocracy. I'm in a more parochial mood today, but here's an exquisite little home grown example I found through a quick visit to Tim Blair's little corner of spleenville. Tim gives us a sizeable citation from Miranda Devine's column in today's Sydney Morning Herald. Here's where Tim starts his quote:
The secret of Howard's success is, as always, his enemies. No one likes a bully, and the cowardly, unimaginative pack-bullying practised by what passes for intelligentsia in urban Australia, whether they are writers, artists, academics, journalists, John Hewson or Paddington wives, whether you call them the left, or elites, as David Flint has in his new book, is particularly repugnant.
There's plenty more where that came from, but the ending is a real cracker:
But, despite Howard's apparent success, and perhaps contributing to it, is the fact he allowed his enemies to win the culture wars. They have successfully colonised the universities, the arts and parts of the media, a process which has continued almost unchecked during his term in office.
It is futile to try to reverse those victories, as the Communications Minister, Richard Alston, did so ineptly with his 68-point "dossier" of objections to the ABC's Iraq war coverage. It is like trying to hold sand in your hands. You just have to look at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, built with $155 million of taxpayers' money on Howard's watch, with its sneering black armband treatment of our history, its irony overload of upside-down Hills hoists and digger statues, and its Holocaust architecture.
It was designed as a big "f--- you" to Howard and his supporters and there is not much Howard can do about it, no matter how many $200,000 reviews he tries. You can't legislate for attitude.
Better to write off the NMA as an expensive folly and rename it the "OzKulcha" museum to better reflect its contents. As for the ABC, the Bulletin columnist and blogger Tim Blair will tell a Quadrant magazine dinner next week that ABC types should be calling for the privatisation of their beloved institution because then it could be as biased as it likes without the pesky intervention of Alston and co. Sneering right back is the best revenge. [my emphasis]
Pity I can't make it to the Quadrant dinner next week - it sounds like it's going to be a real ripper of a leather breech-clout and tom-toms fest. I think Miranda might have a point on the subject of sneering back - it's bloody good fun. Still, it's always wise to remember the old saying about he who sneers last ...
Update: I've just been back to fix up the link to Tim's site. For some reason I can't fathom, he's added the text of a letter that one of his readers received from John Howard, in response to an E-Mail and remarks that several US readers have received similar letters. It makes me almost (but not quite) curious enough to write one myself, to see how similar a response I'd get. And whether it comes with an elephant stamp.
Gary has been trying on the sneer over at public opinion.