Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uh oh

No doubt every word of this report on David Marr's Quarterly Essay on Kevin Rudd is true; I don't know what the stance of the child in the photograph says to you, but I know what it says to me, and I have in my time known a few chronically angry men very well. But you have to ask yourself whether the kinds of people who read (never mind write) the Quarterly Essay would allow even such a damning portrait to drive them in the direction of a conservative government. (Has anyone read it yet? What did you think?)

David Marr would have thought very carefully through all the possible consequences of this essay. But it's clear from all his work that his first commitment as a journalist is to the truth, based on evidence, as he sees it. So while it might be a matter of knowing that disenchantment with Rudd is far more likely to push his previous supporters further to the left (and into the waiting arms of the Greens; Bob Brown must be starting to think it's Christmas), it could also be a matter of letting the fallout fall where it may.

And it may, of course, fall into that empty fruit bowl.

22 comments:

Emily said...

Haven't read the essay as yet. I collected it from my post office box this morning and will read it later. I was dismayed to read the report in The Australian today by Samantha Maiden in which she gives an account of a lunch meeting between Kevin Rudd and David Marr, from which David Marr is said to have drawn the image of "an angry man" which is said to flow through his essay. Drawing from what I read there it appeared that David Marr met Kevin Rudd for lunch and as they parted, Kevin Rudd asked what the thrust of the Essay was, whereupon David Marr basically inferred to Kevin Rudd "that he was basically going to stab him in the back" (my words). David Marr seems to have been surprised that the revelation after their lunchtime discussion that he was taking a somewhat jaundiced view of him would make Kevin Rudd angry. Well, blow me down with a feather! Even-tempered as I am, I think I would feel I had been betrayed after seemingly amicable discussions over lunch and get pretty cranky. I'm withholding a final judgment until I read the Essay but if it is true that the anger expressed by what I would also see as a betrayal, has permeated David Marr's views and the thrust in the Essay it seemingly detracts from the worth of the work in my opinion.

fmark said...

I'm not sure David Marr's motives are always so pure. I know you disagree but Marr's indignant "surprise and horror" regarding the scouting-in-schools scandal resulting from his book on Henson seemed disingenuous to me.

I think we will be able to judge how well intentioned he is when we see whether he is "surprised and horrified" by The Australian taking his words out of context to slander Rudd in whatever scandal arises from this essay (I haven't read it either).

fmark said...

Cross-posted with Emily. I haven't read Samantha Maiden's report, but I think you can see where the thrust of my argument is leading...

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

The Samantha Maiden article is linked to in the first line of the post.

fmark said...

Sod. I never manage to post here without revealing my ignorance. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool etc.

Mitzi G Burger said...

I wonder if Samantha Maiden is the journo incarnation of the poet Jennifer Maiden?

Meanwhile, back to the politics ... Marr has the right to be critical (though hopefully not jaundice-inducing.)

fmark said...

I wouldn't contest Marr's right to criticise - indeed, I agree with a great deal of what he has to say.

It is his astonished bewilderment when his criticism is taken up by the hard right that I find problematic. As PC pointed out, he "would have thought very carefully through all the possible consequences of this essay." To pretend otherwise is mendacious.

ThirdCat said...

When I look at that photo I see a little boy who doesn't quite know what to do with himself. I'm going to read the essay in full before I comment any more, because I found the article disturbing in very many ways.

Penthe said...

I thought he might be trying not to laugh or just generally looking embarrassed as in-between aged children often do, in that 'Awwwww, Mu-u-um', kind of way.

Fyodor said...

Haven't read it, but really want to, and it rings true for mine. I've met Rudd, and his aura of ponderous self-control is almost mesmerising to behold. In my experience nobody that self-controlled is blancmange underneath the facade. He also has a very cruel streak to his sense of humour, which I enjoyed immensely - also not a good sign.

Marr's motivations aren't too hard to fathom. He's a sopping wet example of the Lubricious Left who loathes the right wing of the ALP, exemplified by 'Effin Rudd, as much as he despises the Illiberals. No wonder Rudd felt betrayed. Timing couldn't be better/worse, right?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

'Lubricious'??

fmark said...

I've obviously been hanging out with the wrong parts of the Left!

Carol said...

I'll admit that Annabel Crabb's marvellous Malcolm Turnbull essay rather drove me in the direction of a conservative government lead by MT.

Under current circumstances, however ...

Helen said...

Actually, if I were PM in the current milieu of dishonest media reporting and spin and trivia, I'd be pretty chronically angry, I think.

When you come down to it I think Tony Abbott is a very angry man, or perhaps chronically aggressive is a better way to describe him. So that wouldn't affect my choice. (I just think the Greens represent more what old Labor voters like me want Labor to be like.)

Ampersand Duck said...

I'm determined to go out and buy it now. BRB.

[but, FWIW, I don't see anger as a negative motivation...]

Fyodor said...

Yah, lubricious, ex latin lubricus: slippery, inconstant, deceitful, dangerous.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Oh poo, and there I was thinking you meant the other kind of lubricious, and wondering, like fmark, which parts of the the Left you'd been consorting with.

Fyodor said...

Nobody's more disappointed than me, Mme. Pav. It's a well-known fact that lefty babes are hotter.

Emily said...

I've now read the Quarterly Essay and also saw David Marr on 7.30 Report last night. I now see it as a betrayal of David Marr's own principles rather than throwing any real light on Kevin Rudd. For me it is as credible as the articles by Piers Akermann that David so opposes. I'm very disappointed.

Di said...

I don't get the relevance of Rudd's anger to his ability to lead the Labour government. He's angry, so what? We're all something in terms of our basic psychological default mode: someone is reserved, another nervy, another bouncy and happy and so on. What is relevant is how the politician works as part of a team and I think Rudd's done a pretty good job with that in very demanding circumstances.

Meanwhile over in the US Obama is not angry enough apparently. Why is it that these entirely subjective assessments of the character of political leaders are taken seriously? Is it because the actual detail of policy and the problems that need to be dealt with in the community by government are just too complicated and boring for us all to think about and we want to sink into the simplicity of soap opera stories?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

The thing is, Di, it's only the anti-Labor commentators who've said there IS any such relevance. Marr himself hasn't said anywhere, so far as I can make out, that Rudd's anger makes him a bad leader. Only that it's there, and that, in Marr's opinion, it's what drives him.

David Irving (no relation) said...

My copy arrived last night. I haven't read any yet, as I was too tired and emotional by the time I'd finished dinner last night, but I was enormously amused by the responses of conservatives to Waleed Aly's essay on the future of conservatism. They proved hi point, with varying degrees of incoherence.