John Howard might have the numbers on his side, and Peter Costello may have overreacted to his leadership comments, but Dollar Sweetie should be a happy man today as the Gallery heavies swing their muscle behind him.

While Andrew Bolt dissects the Athens transcript in the Herald Sun today, and Piers Akerman wrote almost the same column in The Telegraph yesterday, are they the only two spruikers the PM can get onside?

Compare and contrast with the sages – Paul Kelly and Laurie Oakes – holding forth today on what could loosely be described as Howard’s Demise. While it’s true that the Gallery likes leadership stories better than elections – you don’t need to go on the road for five weeks – what Kelly and Oakes say often becomes fact.

“John Howard’s intractability and, it must be said, stupidity over the leadership is already doing irreparable damage to the Coalition,” is Oakes’s introduction to his Bulletin column today. Subtle. (For a summary of both columns, see The Commentariat).

Much of the Gallery loathes Howard – we know it and he knows it. That’s why he had to go to the out-of-towners Akerman and Bolt for support. Up to now, Howard’s obstinance has been seen as a virtue, portrayed as dedication rather than selfish stubbornness. Kelly and Oakes are challenging this. And when the titans speak, the Gallery listens – as do the politicians.

Peter Fray

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