Sunday, September 21, 2008

Turnbull: charisma without substance

The basic problem for the Liberals is that they don't stand for anything different from what Labour stands for (Climate change agenda, Taming the Unions). And all that Labour stands for is anti-politics.

I agree with the analysis presented by The Piping Shrike
Behind the Howard-Peacock wrangle was how to respond to Labor doing what the Liberals were supposed to, knobbling and winding down the trade union movement. Howard represented that section of the party that thought the Liberals had no choice but to carry on doing the same. This was after all what the party was about. The irrelevance of Howard’s Workchoices exposed that such a strategy had reached its end.
- The old leadership loses control
Turnbull got up because the old leadership had lost its grip on the party, not because a new leadership had gained it ... The lack of base he has in the party is highlighted by the fact that the only two issues he is really known for, the republic and climate change, he can’t talk about because it would cause internal problems
- Turnbull: A poor man's Hewson
This is not because Turnbull is incompetent. It is just that he doesn’t seem to stand for anything that has much to do with the Liberal party (or anything much at all for that matter which is why he waffles on)
- Poor Costello, used again - epilogue
Combine that with our government's anti-political agenda (we can't do anything decisive because the problems are either too global or too hard: anti-politics; our government) and what do we have? Apart from style (Rudd boring, managerial; Turnbull "exciting") there is no difference between our anti-political political leaders.
But Labor isn’t in the clear either. Wong’s concession that nothing can be done to save the Murray at the beginning of August led to an outcry that quickly had her and Rudd running back down to the mouth a couple of weeks later to throw a few extra million dollars into water buybacks. The problem for Labor exists within the chasm between their openness over the limited abilities of government and a claim to have a plan to change the globe’s weather. The gap between rhetoric and reality on the government’s climate change strategy is exposed at the lower end of the Murray and it is this gap right now that is a far greater problem for Labor than the media’s obsession over the economic impact in 2030. Labor’s inability to manage that gap and take the campaign directly to the Liberals in what should have been an ideal seat to do so, shows that climate change is an issue that has the capacity to be highly corrosive for parties.
- No revival, just decay

1 comment:

Mark Miller said...

When 9/11 happened I heard almost immediately from those in our country who sound like your "anti-politicos", and it was shocking. I think I had heard about them before, but they really became visible after that event. They said, "This happened as a result of our foreign policy." Their prescription for resolving the problem sounded isolationist: withdraw support for Israel, and listen more to the grievances of the Palestinians; dismantle the World Bank and IMF, and get out of the Middle East. They felt that the World Bank and IMF were oppressing poor indigenous people around the world in favor of global industrialists and Wall Street.

There was a book I read a while back, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" that seemed to back up part of what they were saying, except the author said it wasn't the World Bank and IMF that were at fault. They were merely unwitting players in a secret foreign policy that was contrived to line up allies against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Basically what the "anti-politicos" were saying was that the attack was all our fault.

The next time they reared their head was in the lead up to the Iraq war. The Bush Admin. warned that according to our (faulty) intelligence Saddam had chemical and biological WMDs. Their response was, "We have those weapons, too. Why shouldn't Iraq have them?" It seemed to me their agenda was to try to balance power throughout the world, partly by restraining the U.S. The whole idea seemed narcissistic to me, as if they could control the whole world, and the actions of foreign leaders, through an emphasis on diplomacy, low grade military action, and an overall withdrawal of the U.S. from the world (because we were too threatening, and we were causing weaker powers to become agitated, and lash out at us). By and large these people are labeled "far left" here, radicals who believe more in ideology than pragmatically dealing with reality. They find ways to make their views known. Their influence is most keenly felt in certain liberal enclaves (cities), and somewhat at the state level, but up to now they haven't seemed to be able to grab the "brass ring" at the national level. Even with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, they've been able to threaten withdrawal from Iraq, but they haven't "pulled the trigger" on that. Right now the far left groups in this country are pretty miffed at the Democrats about that. They'll vote for Democrats anyway, hoping their voices will eventually dominate the political discourse.

I understand that there used to be a dream among some liberals for a global government, where international problems could be worked out, and we could end the scourge of war, which came about from international competition for resources, and old grievances. I think in reality we are still stuck with that situation, though I'm wary of the idea of a global government.

I read your post on anti-politics, and indeed what you describe of Rudd does sound like Obama, except for the "sorry talk". We saw that from President Clinton, actually. I remember conservatives used to complain that Clinton was saying "I'm sorry" for all sorts of things. Rush Limbaugh, a popular conservative radio talk show host here, said he didn't want Clinton's apologies. He wanted him to fix things. I think by and large the American people agreed with that.

The one apology that had some significance, though it rang kind of hollow because of the distance from the injustice, was the one about slavery. I think it was the first time the U.S. government had officially apologized for it. Reparations for the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during WW II happened around the same time. This led to some blacks trying to get reparations for slavery, an effort that gained some steam, but ultimately failed, partly because there wasn't consensus among blacks that reparations were needed or justified, given what had happened to end slavery, and since then. Someone who was used as a counter-example was Oprah Winfrey, who is a billionaire.

It seems to me though that your government's position on global warming is anything but anti-political. Sure there's an element of trying to garner international cooperation, but it sounds like the government is taking actions based on the issue. As I recall one of your major cities even held a "lights out" event as a symbolic gesture. Quite political, no?

Your comment in the "anti-politics" post about "sorry for destroying the environment (and for rising petrol prices even though it helps the environment)" stood out to me. We see something similar here with the Democrats. They've consistently held contradictory positions on this for years. The reason is they've built a coalition of voters who are at odds with each other. On one side they have "blue collar", middle class voters who work in industry, and build cars for a living. On the other they have environmentalists who travel and enjoy the outdoors. Not to say the constituencies are mutually exclusive. Blue collar workers can be environmentalists, too. What cracks me up though is I can literally watch the Democrats vascillate between decrying the high price of gas, because it hurts the poor, and celebrating the high price of gas, because it will encourage the development of alternative energy sources, and applications of them. Though during this election it seems like the environmentalists have won the argument between the two. I don't hear them talking about the high price of gas at all. It's the Republicans belly-aching about it.