He’s the Bert Newton of Australian politics: the polished performer whose gift for spontaneous, stiffly splenetic wit was honed in tougher vaudevillian times, times when having a personality meant more than booking an in-store appearance from Sophie Monk. “He” is of course Paul Keating, a man who knows how to milk a moment in the public gaze, a man who also knows how to fill that moment with something pointedly amusing and worth the repeating.

Two brackets of achingly sharp political standup from Keating yesterday have hogged the airwaves and set a handful of agendas in the 24 hours since. That Keating need only floss his teeth in public to turn the news cycle on its ear says a lot for the standard of over-massaged, verbally neutered performance we have come to expect from the modern political operator.

More’s the pity. This subtle sense of loss and nostalgic regret that fills us every time PJK even thinks of appearing on the 7.30 Report might have some echo in the push to have that “nong”, that “policy mouse” Peter Costello return to the upper echelons of the Liberal Party. Maybe the same sentiment should propel Keating back to lead Labor. We’d be the funnier for it.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW