If you haven’t read Dennis Shanahan in The Oz today, take a dekko. This is the gist:

The Australian yesterday published the story of a Labor briefing paper that confirmed Kevin Rudd was mistaken about, or ignorant of, a rise in economic productivity…

It was politically devastating, and Labor knew it. But the way the Labor leader handled the breach has made the media treatment much worse – it’s not just an issue now of his economic credibility, but also of his competence and perspective.

Before The Australian went to press, Rudd tried to stop the publication based on allegations it was a “stolen document” and the newspaper was ethically bound not to publish. Although a “leaked” document was used all day in question time by Labor, if it was “stolen” it could not see the light of day…

We are seeing stupid and sloppy behaviour on the part of the Labor leader and his staff.

Life in the Rudd office probably hasn’t been all that nice over the past 48 hours. This could finally spell the end of the honeymoon – but first, some backtracking.

When the news came out that David Epstein was replacing Simon Banks as Rudd’s chief of staff, a Labor insider shared these observations with Crikey:

Rudd has a huge ego, a great faith in himself, and a tendency to want to do things his way. Most of the time he is right, but what he needs is a hard case to, in situations like Sunrise, grab him by the shirtfront and tell him he is completely wrong…

The Rudd office is a one man band.

Yesterday, that one man band hit a wrong note.

Yesterday, Rudd’s first instinct appears to have been to lie – to lie to The Australian that a document he had left behind was “stolen”. The paper was heavied.

This is a repeat of the behaviour we saw earlier this year when The Sun-Herald published a version of the events surrounding the death of Rudd’s father and his family’s eviction from the farm he’d sharecropped that questioned the Labor leader’s recollections.

This is not a good look.

Some people in Canberra, even Labor-linked people, are saying a Rudd government might not be a good government – in much the same way that the Goss government, where Rudd gained his experience, was neither a good government nor lasted that long.

Rudd made a slip-up. He left briefing notes on a table. This shouldn’t have happened. Staff are there to carry papers, to take them from the boss. They should have been in a folder. This should not have happened.

It did. And in response, Rudd lied and his office accused a journalist of stealing the notes. The networks have footage of what happened.

Labor will be hoping like hell the MPs’ pay rises, Ross Vasta’s printing allowance and Crosby/Textor’s latest spectacular lack of judgement will dominate the news cycle today.

They may get lucky.

They might not.

They don’t deserve to.

Rudd and his office have got the economics, the politics and the spin of this matter comprehensively wrong – and it stemmed from their stuff up.

This might be the beginning of the end for the Labor leader.

To paraphrase Rudd, this may be a fudge too far.