Well after last week’s ‘New Reconciliation’ ambush, I am looking for the angle in Howard’s vow to debate himself – stop it – in front of two hundred supporters.

But I can’t find one. He made the campaign interesting on Monday. He’s made it stark staring mad on Tuesday.

How does this play out?

SCENARIO 1: Rudd knuckles under for a clear loss, being Howard’s bitch. There’s no sign that is going to happen.

SCENARIO 2: Rudd holds to his principle. Howard backs down sometime later this week. Rudd wins.

SCENARIO 3: Howard does the whole shebang at the great hall of parliament, talking to 200 stooges for ninety minutes, as always without notes, rambling round and round a few key points like a bumble bee approaching a flower. The farce remains unbroadcast. It’s an old man talking in a half empty hall on a Sunday night.

SCENARIO 4: He does the whole thing, ABC TV dutifully televises this making it the more most boring show since MDA . People tune in to watch an old man talking to himself for 90 minutes. It becomes a classic piece of mad performance art.

So many questions. Can the ABC actually even do this? Or would it have to give Rudd equal time – to be used in a more productive fashion. Will Channel Seven buy the format?

Is there an upside to this for Howard? Rudd can simply keep calling on a basic sense of fair play that extends from the school playground up – both sides set the terms of the fight.

Howard has now given himself what screenwriters call “a clock” – an element ticking in the background, upping the tension.

Is anyone going to pay any attention to the content he releases? It would be like noticing the colour of Houdini’s speedos.

We just want to see how he’ll get out of this one. Or drown.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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