My immediate take on the great Kevin Rudd stripclub scandal is the same as Peter Beattie’s: it is unlikely to do the uptight opposition leader any harm at all.
Those already disposed to see the man as an unctuous God-botherer who is a bit too good to be true will have their suspicions that deep down he is a hypocrite confirmed, while the rest of the electorate will probably say that the only thing he really did wrong was to ring his wife next morning and apologise.
And the Labor Party as a whole will be breathing a deep sigh of relief. For months there have been rumours of a story about sensationally sordid revelations about Rudd’s private life simmering away in the Liberal Party’s dirt unit. I myself have heard several versions, the most serious (and unlikely) involving the constant use of call girls; I put this one to a trusted Canberra source and got the unanswerable response: “Come on; when would he have the time?”
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Nonetheless the rumours persisted, and finally seeing them in print gets rid of one more anxiety. If the worst the indefatigable muck rakers can dig up is a story that four years ago on an overseas trip Rudd got p-ssed and was inveigled into a girly bar, then there’s not a lot to worry about.
Unsurprisingly the journalist who put his name to the story was Glenn Milne, aka the Poison Dwarf. Milne obligingly tried to beat up the story by claiming that while in the bar Rudd had behaved inappropriately and had been asked to leave, which according to the other two men present was not true.
But more interesting was the identity of the real source of the story. Rudd had no doubt and suggested questioning Alexander Downer’s office. When the ABC did so a spokesandroid replied that they would not dignify the insinuation with an answer. Thank you Mr Downer, we’ll take that as a yes.
Sensibly other government ministers, notably Peter Costello and Tony Abbott, resisted the temptation to wallow in the prurience of it all; the subject of hi-jinks on overseas trips is not one too many politicians would want to open up. Who could ever forget the tale of Memphis, and Malcolm Fraser’s lost trousers? Now that really was a story.