In a nod to the fusion of political ineptitude (hands up, the Liberal party), gratuituous publicity seeking (yes you, MUP) and the endless need to fill column space (you there, bored political columnists), this week’s Wankley goes out to the perfect storm of the media, the book publisher, and Peter Costello’s vested interests in propelling and never-quite-putting-to-death the interminably unanswerable question: will he, or won’t he?

The real question here: who cares?

As outlined in our editorial, Costello finally answered the question as to whether he’d challenge for the Liberal leadership unequivocally to Peter Hartcher a fortnight ago.

But in the meantime, we’ve had to endure a blizzard of nonsense — below is the blurb sent to the media on Thursday night by the Nine Network PR machine touting Ray Martin’s interview with the man who never was, not even nearly, Prime Minister:

He’s become the hollow man of politics, the PM who never was. And for months now, Peter Costello’s kept us on tenterhooks with the “will he or won’t he” guessing game about his future in Canberra. Well, now the truth’s out, he’s pulling the pin on politics, heading for the high-paying world of big business. Or, then again, is he? As Ray Martin discovered after spending a week with the former treasurer, Peter Costello just can’t help himself and the impression Ray got is that he could yet accept the Liberal party leadership — if his colleagues begged hard enough.

Never mind that on the Nine Network news at 6pm last night in Laurie Oakes’ story we watched Costello firmly denying that he will lead or wants to lead the Liberal Party.

This kind of nonsense means that mentions of Costello — going, going, just won’t go — in the past week have outrated issues like climate change, Afghanistan, and even that little Western Australian election where they still, oh, that’s right, don’t have a government.

So now that the leadership question is settled, what’s to keep us reading?

Handily, the next unanswerable question is Pete’s departure date from parliament.

Here he is on Neil Mitchell’s 3AW this morning:

3AW (Melbourne)
Mornings — 12/09/2008
Neil Mitchell

Mitchell asks if Peter Costello, former Federal Treasurer, will stay on after the 2010 election but Costello refuses to answer. Costello says people can find answers in his upcoming memoirs.

And in the last display of media lapdoggery in peddling someone’s book, Peter Costello will finally launch his memoirs not at the local Borders, but the National Press Club next week. Here’s the spruik, straight from the website:

Is The Costello Memoirs an apologia of a man departing the public square or is it the platform of a politician about to launch an assault on the Rudd government? No one can answer these questions without reading The Costello Memoirs .

Not even the press, presumably.

Peter Fray

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