Canberra and Washington are 15,944 kilometres apart – but in one short sentence at the beginning of the week Barack Obama bridged the gap and skewered the Prime Minister right through the heart:

I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is… to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

Barack Obama understands exactly how John Howard operates. He claims the moral high ground in his rhetoric – but in practice makes a minimal effort. As it is on Iraq, it is on every other topic.

Obama pinned the PM deftly. Can Kevin Rudd?

The Obama/Howard stoush is one for the commentariat, not the punters. There are probably no votes in the nuances. Still, it’s important for perceptions. Every Liberal Crikey spoke to yesterday was rattled. The polls have suggested the PM can be beaten.

But can Labor make him appear out of touch, confused or just plain wrong – like Barack Obama did? Can they find the issues and cut to the core so quickly?

Mr Rudd, it’s all up to you.

Peter Fray

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