Er, you were saying? 16/9/2005
Oh dear, words can return to haunt the ablest of commentators. Huge cups of cringe would have washed down breakfast this morning for biographers Craig McGregor, Barry Donovan, Michael Duffy and Margaret Simons when they read their words on Mad Lacker splashed across The Australian’s opinion page.
My favourite’s from McGregor whose Niagara-like gush two days after the last election must have today produced cheeks as red as a Swan’s knicks.
Latham has confirmed his position as the alternative prime minister of the nation. He has unified the ALP, he has given it heart, and even more importantly he has given it direction. The days of convergence in national politics are over . . . and not before time. There is no way that the ALP would now consider a new leader. . . Like his mentor, Latham represents an energetic new force in Australian politics . . . I’ve thought for some time that Latham will be prime minister of Australia. I asked him once, indirectly, about that and he replied, after a moment’s hesitation: “I’m a sticker and a pusher.” It will be what we need.
Seriously though, how did a supposedly rigorous media and responsible party leadership let him get that far? Many of us who don’t pay a great deal of attention to Labor machine apparatchiks from NSW had him summed up years ago: Obsessed with power and politics, narcissistic to a fault, spontaneously violent and a disordered thinker with serious health problems.
Traits that would trigger alarm bells in any commonsense appraisal. That, of course, is a quality that you don’t expect to find too much of in Canberra. The Latham eruption, if nothing else, shows how hopeless those who fuelled it — the media and party leaders — are at judging character.