Monday, December 03, 2007

Definitely an Own Goal - but Whose?

A week's supposed to be a long time in politics but it seems that it's nowhere near long enough for those insightful people over at the Rupertian to get over their peevishness at the way the voters let them down by electing a bunch of trade union leaders and other assorted riff-raff to replace what's his name and his annointed successor, Chinese submariners willing. However this morning's opinion section brings one promising sign that the engorged spleens and gall bladders of the editors and commentators at our rag of record are now merely distended - the task of paying out on the people for electing Kev, Julia and the ARRP (Australian Riff-Raff Party) has been contracted out to an overseas supplier for the day.

The supplier is Mark Steyn. His article "A loss for civilisation" is a good follow on from Paul Kelly's last piece, where he argued that what Australia had on November 24th wasn't any ordinary election: it was a great national enema, a purging of the bowels of the body politic with the warm soapy waters of democracy.

Steyn begins:
ACCORDING to my Oz-watching pals in Britain and the US, John Howard is not a failure but a victim of his own success. He made Australia safe for the Labor Party: or, at any rate, safe enough that a sufficient number of bored electors were willing to take a flier on a house-trained Labor on the short leash of a quasi-Blairite leader.

That, at any rate, is the spin. Even if it's correct, and accepting that in parliamentary democracies even the greatest generals go a bridge too far, I regret Howard's end. True, I object in principle to Australia's gun laws, and I regard much of the Aussie economy as embarrassingly overregulated after a decade of supposedly conservative rule. But, as the former prime minister put it in one of his most famous soundbites, this is no time to be an 80 per cent ally.

I am a 100 per cent ally of Howard.
It strikes me that there's really only one sensible place for Mark to go from there - and that's a final paragraph announcing his voluntary retirement from the columnising game in favour of a job as humble library technician which will allow him to mentor new up and coming columnists. That after all, is where all the 100 per cent allies of John Howard in the Liberal Party are headed - with the possible exception of Tony Abbott. In fact, Steyn goes on for several boring paragraphs to belabour us - the people who voted Rudd in and the Rat of Straw out. By his own admission Mark isn't arguing from an informed, knowledgeable position (you'd no doubt have guessed that from his objection "in principle" to Australia's gun laws - which are none of his damn business because he doesn't bloody live here):
From my perch several thousand kilometres away, I won't pretend to be an informed analyst of the internal dynamics of the Liberal Party. During my last visit, en route to yet another meeting, there'd usually be someone in the car explaining why the fellow I was on the way to see was on the outs with whichever prime-minister-in-waiting I'd met the day before...
Mark doesn't let his admitted ignorance stand in the way of giving us a good telling off for letting down Western civilisation - and hence the whole world:
What mattered to the world was the strategic clarity Howard's ministry demonstrated on the critical issues facing (if you'll forgive the expression) Western civilisation.
There's more absurd bollocks after that declaration, and a lot of name-dropping to let the reader know Mark's actually met some Aussie politicians. We natives might find them laughable, but Mark's willing to wise us up on a few points, such as this:
Costello's exhortation to Aussie couples - have one for mum, one for dad, and one for Australia - gets the stakes exactly right...
The Coalition was all but unique in understanding the three great challenges of the age - Islamism, demography, civilisational will - that in other parts of the West are combining to form the perfect storm... I liked to call Alexander Downer my favorite foreign minister, which, in hindsight, was damning with the faintest of praise.
Yes, we had our chance to re-elect the Rodent, and we blew it. Nonetheless, there's still a way that something might be salvaged from this - not for Australia specifically, but for the Western Civilisation of which we're a small corner:
As a distant observer of Australian affairs, I had some small personal contact with Howard and co. over the years. Merry, feisty, blunt and fair, they were exactly what we need at this moment: happy warriors. I'm saddened Australians feel differently. But if it's too late to get the US constitution amended in time for them to run for president next November, the savvier candidates ought to snap 'em up as speech writers.
There's no way I can beat that for a punch line.

(Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo in Exile)

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