A very cruddy fable, Part 16: Hoisting one’s own petard on a forked tongue

Heads went down across the nation this week as punters who lean to the right absorbed the shocking news that their best chance of seizing victory from the jaws of historically-ordained defeat against those who tilt leftwards had been massacred. Worse was that the rout was engineered by the leader of their own forces. Not since the adulation of lemmings have so many people wanted to leap off a cliff.

It was not always so though there have been portents blowing in the wind for some time. Those who exult in exuberance have been pleasurably placid in recent months as the Monsignor went about being crazy brave. True, this did disturb the majority of the common folk who actually like their leaders to be brave but who tend to find crazy just a little outside their comfort zone. Still, it was somewhat entertaining – in the manner of Gough Whitlam, say – that one never knew what might come next. And, also like Gough, one knew that whatever it was, it came from the heart and was the culmination of sincerely-held beliefs. The Monsignor is nothing if not out of the conventional mould and this worked well for some time as punters found the real Kevin Rudd (ever so recently revealed) just too tightly-wound for their liking.

Now, however, the seeds of doubt have been sown and have taken root quickly, flourishing in the hothouse atmosphere that accompanies the looming pagan ritual of the poll.

And what gives with the Jolly Green Giant? The normally ever-garrulous Tinkerbell Hockey suddenly transformed from Mr Effusive to Mr Evasive in a performance at the Hacks’ Hangout that was entirely reminiscent of the late Monsignor Antony’s brainsnap. Had these two creatures formulated a mutual suicide pact? Had they been led astray by mysterious ‘friends’ they had encountered on the internet? Did they just do drugs behind the bushes at the Steel Cage the previous evening? Who can say, for surely their performances defy sensible interpretation (unless, of course, one finds self-immolation a valid way of making a point).

And all across the land – for the most part – the Labor troops held their fire. Though they had their foes trapped in their trenches, they refused to put them to the sword. Instead, they let their opponents sweat in their own opprobrium. Let them breathe the stale fumes of anticipated defeat. Let them suck in the acrid stench of a suicide counter-attack gone horribly wrong.

Many gave pause to consider the restraint involved in the Emperor letting his opponent wriggle on a stake so needlessly self-impaled. And all could recognise the logic of Kevvie’s forbearance. It does not augur well for the tryst with the electorate planned for the spring break. The pheromones that had been zinging on the zephyrs now carry the flaccid odour of premature ejaculation and hang limply in the fetid air.

Nor was there any respite from the trench warfare in the key battle zone of the Shady State where the fledgling bastard child of a forced political marriage has suffered severe casualties of late. Like a weeping statue of the Madonna, though, this cavalcade of calamity is shrouded in mystery. The gob-smacking ghastliness of the LNP tearing itself apart in Queensland is that it is just that: the debilitating debacle of candidate disendorsements, Councillor sackings and MP resignations is entirely self-inflicted. True, the party will be better off without most of these preening ponces who just cannot accept that joining a team involves actually playing for the team. They rode the coattails of the party into office and then spat in the eye of all those who toiled for them. Reminiscent of Tolkienesque orcs they will no doubt eventually scuttle back into whatever black crevices they slithered out of entirely unlamented apart from the battle scars of their bastardry.

In what may prove as compelling as a Shakespearian tragedy the punters will soon determine whether the events that are unfolding will be accepted as setting standards of righteous propriety or simply the stench of a diseased creature that should be cremated forthwith. And with the Monsignor continuing to invoke a blessing for his former ally, now deemed a heretic, one cannot escape an image of lycra-clad legs straddling a razor wire fence. The forbearance of forgiveness is a fine thing, Monsignor, but politics shuns purity for pragmatism. The odds of you being the one person to overturn millennia of entrenched practice are, shall we say, slender. We could wish you luck with that but we are not sure we really want you to try, some of us still harbouring hopes of you achieving the Prime Ministership.

Strangely, much of the weeping and wailing on vexatious veracity was vented by the populist pundits with the common folk mostly having their established prejudices reinforced. Par for the course, some have said, with justification. But others, who read the tea-leaves with real empathy, wonder just how long the cumulative scars of self-inflicted, attention-grabbing self-mutilation will linger. There is no glossing-over that a death by a thousand cuts is just as effective as a dagger through the heart.

It is true that the well of forgiveness runs deep but there is a limit of tolerance for mistakes repeated. Leaders must demonstrate, not that they are infallible, but that they learn. And learning is only an acceptable response when anticipation is excusably absent. Blundering in a minefield with no coherent or cogent strategy is simply unacceptable. At stake is the nation’s future. And while roughly half our number find existing arrangements acceptable, we others must defend our cause better than is being done currently.