Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh God I miss him

I mean, can you think of anyone else who left school at fifteen who could make himself so vulnerable by, yet still somehow convincingly get away with, calling a Rhodes scholar and Oxford MA an 'intellectual nobody'? It's not as if Abbott's speech or behaviour of late have reflected these qualifications, or indicated much capacity even for logical or consistent -- much less for abstract, rigorous or difficult -- thought. Even his supporters say fondly that he is a bundle of contradictions, almost as though an absence of clarity were a desirable thing in a political leader.

If you read that link you'll see that Keating has also provided an admirably brisk summary of Turnbull's superiority as Opposition leader, and has coined the pungent, nay, scary phrase 'the poor man's Howard', all in one short radio conversation.

Sad waste that his shortish tenure as PM may have been, it's some consolation that these days he feels free to tell us what he really thinks whenever somebody asks him, untrammelled by the restrictions of office.

UPDATE: Oooh look, there's Footage.

You have to wonder what ABC employee chose to describe this as a 'rant', and under what sort of instructions. And you have to wince at that very very telling little Freudian slip right at the very end.

UPDATE #2 (12.43 am CST): Hullo, someone at the ABC website has changed that heading and removed the word 'rant'. Someone, clearly, who also thought it was as suss as anything.

16 comments:

Deborah said...

That was very entertaining.

I didn't realise that Abbott was a Rhodes scholar. It doesn't show, does it. Unless the Rhodes is all about privilege and entitlement and being one of the old boys...

shawjonathan said...

I almost wept when I heard this on the radio this morning. Does he lie awake at night inventing phrases? Or do they really just trip off his tongue like that? The Freudian slip was delicious, and his recovery fro it masterly.

Anonymous said...

Yes bring him BACK. Wish he'd let us know what he thinks about Rudd. Bound to be equally incisive.
Clarrie

librarygirl said...

We still have a Paul Keating fridge magnet: (bust? of PK's head
in 3D. Bought it when he was PM, will never throw it out. Ever.

cristy said...

The Freudian slip at the end was gold. Rudd's only value for me: he's not in the coalition.

M-H said...

Watching Abbott last night on Four Corners was very revealing. Apart from John Howard, I didn't get the impression that a single person interviewed liked or admired Abbott. I wasn't in Aus when Keating was PM, so I have to take my information about him second hand.

Tony.T said...

"[He is] truly an intellectual nobody and [has] no policy ambition."

Caught the end and assumed he was talking about Rudd.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Tony, I'd be prepared to concede a bit on the 'policy ambition' part, but I don't think anyone could accuse Rudd of being an intellectual nobody. And I don't think Keating would either, whatever else he might say or think.

persiflage said...

Yes I miss Keating too, and thought he was wonderful. I love his powers of expression. Don Watson's book is one of the best political memoirs ever. Painful, but un-put-down-able. As for Abbott, he is like a parrot from the Counter-Reformation.

Ampersand Duck said...

I nearly dropped my tray of type and I did guffaw very loudly when the ABC radio presenter told me this morning that Keating called Abbott 'a complete nutter'. I was so glad to be alive at that moment.

[WV = rodevial, which makes me think of evil rodents]

Bernice said...

I don't often stand and applaud during an interview on radio, but PK had me on my feet this morning. If nothing else, his chutzpah - back-of-envelope calculations for raising the compulsory super contribution to 12%? Pure gold. Pure Bankstown Boy chutzpah.

What would I give to see Keating engage Mr Abbott during Question Time in the House....

BwcaBrownie said...

I miss him too, while knowing he does not miss The Electorate.
Ceecil Whodes -
"Rhodes' legacy specified four standards by which applicants were to be judged:
literary and scholastic attainments;
energy to use one's talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports;
truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship;
moral force of character
..."
a big woops! then for recipients Clinton,W.J., Hawke, R.J., and Abbott The Impregnator (or not).

It was a good week for terse comment as Dawkins had his Q&A moment to describe (I forget who) as being thick as a plank (or similar - I missed actual broadcast).

skepticlawyer said...

Rhodes scholars are to a man and woman very intellectually able (they have to be accepted by Oxford separately from the scholarship), but they are different from most Oxford scholarship recipients. In my experience they tend to be more socially skilled.

If you're looking for nerdier Oxfordians, then the Clarendon (my scholarship) is the way to go, where the only criteria is academic merit. The Rhodes is also confined to people under the age of 25.

BwcaBrownie said...

"more socially skilled" would certainly apply to documented adulterers Hawke (p) and Clinton (p)

persiflage said...

The least favourite person in my life was a Rhodes Scholar too, so that achievement does not necessarily make me fall about in awe.

Tjilpi said...

I used to wonder why nearly everybody who had graduated from Oxford or Cambridge had an MA, appended to their primary degree. That was until I discovered that for £10, one could buy an MA, a year after receiving a BA.