The achievements are in the second half of the Howard decade. The turning point in the prime ministership was September 11, 2001. Machiavelli drew on the classical Roman view to assert that political success depends on a fusion of virtu - the character strength and virtue of the leader - and fortuna - good fortune.
John Howard has had an extraordinary and sustained run of good fortune. For one, he happened to be in Washington on September 11, when the third plane ploughed into the Pentagon. His political experience before 1996 had been virtually entirely domestic, and his early prime ministerial ventures into foreign affairs sometimes looked clumsy. From that day in 2001, he developed into a statesman who has very significantly changed Australia's geopolitical orientation. This is a major and lasting accomplishment.
Over at Catallaxy, Rafe Champion is wondering, purely rhetorically, who would pay money to read cartoonist Bill Leak's take on ten years of John Howard:
... Howard has reshaped Australia to conform to his own vision. We love the inflated feelings of international self-importance he has given us and we don’t seem to care about all the things he has taken away. Happy to live in an economy instead of a society, we might as well also accept that we are all Little Johnnies now.
Smaller, meaner and less attractive, we’re looking more like monkeys every day.Well, now that I've read it on-line, I don't need to rush out and buy a copy of The Howard Factor - I can just relax and wait for it to turn up among the new acquisitions at the local library. Ta Rafe.
Finally, a few words from one of Britain's foremost political analysts of the 1960's, sadly neglected these days:
Well of course he's bleedin' lied and broken promises, hasn't he? That's yer bleedin' statesmanship, that is. That's yer political greatness.
I mean, what's all this fuss over whether he knew about yer AWB payin' bribes to Saddam? Do yer think our Winnie would have been bothered about it? If Old Adolf had called him up before D-Day and arsked 'im, "Winnie, old mate, are you plannin' to invade Europe anytime soon?" would he have told him the truth. Nah! He'd tell him to stick it up his khyber, that's what he'd do! Bleedin' obvious, that is.
Here's hoping that this post will bring back the readers who have decided to take their business elsewhere in response to our recent focus on reality television and soft-porn.