Read the writing on the wall, Kevin
Neither Bob Hawke nor Paul Keating could be classified as shy, retiring types. And while John Howard was much less ebullient than either of his immediate predecessors, his dogged determination and persistence could make an ultra-marathon runner look lazy.
Yet while we recognise – and elect – leaders who convince us that their self-belief is sufficient to steer the ship of state through storms and shoals, we still fervently hope they are not vainglorious. That form of self-belief is not a good look.
Yet it characterises Kevin Rudd, the man who was going to do it his way regardless of what anyone else said and no matter how chaotic the results became.
Thus it was that Rudd had strips torn off him this past week when the Australian Labor Party released its own review of how they lost the last election. Many faults were found but the overwhelming impression created is that Rudd was the central factor in almost all of them.
Sure it is tempting – even sensible to some extent – to lay blame for poor performance on someone who has departed the stage. But the ferocity with which Labor’s review panel took to Kevin was like a cage fight in which Rudd had his hands tied.
Announcing policies on the run such as closing Sydney’s Garden Island naval base and creating a special economic zone for the Northern Territory took even close insiders entirely by surprise. Ignoring both advice and criticism, Rudd lived the dream that “I’m the boss and you’ll all do what I say”. Except it became a nightmare.
Even those true believers in the Labor cause were nervous while the rest of us just said: No, enough is enough. And Rudd was cast aside. Most of us are still trying to work out what has gone wrong with the new lot and what we did to deserve it but there is remarkably little sentiment that a return to Rudd could ever be a good thing.
Which makes his comment on the election report rather scary. He refused direct comment but a spokesperson told us that he might do so later because he is currently focused on his work on US-China relations.
Bloody hell! Here’s the man who created massive dissension across our own fairly stable nation believing that he can solve the stupendous suspicion and massive mistrust between the globe’s two combative superpowers.
At some stage self-belief can slip into self-deception and our Kevin appears entirely unwilling to even look at the writing on the wall let alone attempt to understand the message. Which is pretty much what the ALP said of his performance during the last election campaign.
Acknowledgement: Image = Donkey.Hotey