Peter Costello was so often the poor man’s Keating -- to the extent that he was ever the poor man’s anything -- but he has said he doesn’t want to end up bitter about defeat like Keating. That’s laudable, but unlikely. Like the man on whom he modelled so much of his political style, Costello is convinced he was dudded and, if only circumstances were different, he could’ve prevented defeat.
Costello at least has the stronger case, having not been master of his or his party’s destiny last year. But in the decade-plus since defeat, Keating has assembled an impressive array of reasons why he could’ve won in 1996 -- many of them explained in detail in George Megalogenis’s splendid The Longest Decade: the media shouldn’t have given Howard a sleigh ride because it wanted change no matter what; the media should’ve exposed John Howard’s lies; he wasted too much time defending Carmen Lawrence; the Coalition blocked the four-year term proposal in 1988 that would’ve meant he could’ve had an extra year to take Howard apart -- on it goes.