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Jun 9, 2010

David Marr’s anger hypothesis is torturously argued

Kevin Rudd should be judged on the public benefits of his actions, not on a whole bunch of inferences from his biography and cherry picking by David Marr in his Quarterly Essay on Rudd.


David Marr’s Quarterly Essay, “Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd”, already highlighted in the weekend papers, will no doubt garner even more attention now that it’s been released. Indeed, Marr was interviewed on his piece by Kerry O’Brien on the 7.30 Report.

Marr argues that Rudd is primarily driven by anger. Purportedly, this rage stems from his childhood experiences.

It’s a tortuously argued hypothesis. And it’s one I suspect that informed Marr’s conversations with others, rather than emerged from the evidence he examined. Marr himself highlights the notorious belief in Canberra circles that Rudd’s squeaky-clean image was dissonant with the face he presented privately.

Marr contends that Rudd revealed himself as “most human” when he was angry at the conclusion of a dinner he’d had with the writer, and after Marr had told him that his argument in the essay was that Rudd’s “contradictions” were borne of rage. This seems to me to be absurd. I can’t imagine anyone under the same circumstances not being angry at such an insulting, wounding and trivialising line of argument.

Marr, it seems to me, was “thin-slicing”, using one aspect of his interpersonal experience with Rudd to confirm a purported broader pattern.

Certainly, the claim he makes that the only issues on which Rudd displays courage are those with some tenuous connection (in Marr’s mind) to his so-called childhood traumas seems to mask an unreflective disappointment that the issues Marr himself holds most dear are not the ones Labor is highlighting. And the selective quotation of Rudd’s first speech to Parliament obscures other statements of his political beliefs, and the public purposes that have inspired his career.

It may be true, as Marr contends, that we don’t really know Kevin Rudd. After this latest exercise in amateur psychology, I’m not sure we need to know.

Surely Rudd should be judged on the public benefits of his actions, not on a whole bunch of inferences from his biography, and a highly selective cherry picking of evidence, a lot of which appears to come from those with an axe to grind.

I’m sure Marr would not like his own public career to be assessed on the basis of a reductive argument that one emotional state, putatively the result of childhood trauma, determines his entire life, and I’m not at all sure that he’s done anyone much of a service by doing that to Kevin Rudd, whatever his private failings may or may not be.



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65 thoughts on “David Marr’s anger hypothesis is torturously argued

  1. Richard Mildren

    Great article Mark. These echo my thoughts too after seeing the 7.30 report. Does Marr have any formal training in this kind of psychological analysis? If so, he’s not convincing.

  2. baal

    It gets worse. Yesterday’s Financial Review carried a barely literate letter from Mark Clayton (of Mt Colah NSW) who, without evidence or definition, extended Marr’s thesis to say that Rudd was a ‘narcissist’, which he informed us displayed ‘a pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration and a lack of empathy’. He then went on to assert (again without justification) that Rudd is ‘an angry man bent on revenge for his poor childhood bereft of a strong and positive male.’ God help us if this is the level of discourse practised by real psychologists. Reading his mini-tirade, one is tempted to say more about Mr Clayton’s own personality , but perhaps it’s kinder to assume that the AFR (circulation 77 000 and falling) published it because they got nothing from the Director of the Institute of Private Enterprise yesterday – it could be very unsettling to discover you are a Clayton’s Des Moore.

  3. Nigel Westrock

    Rudd clearly has some sort of phobia or resistance to contrary opinion. He certainly seems to have an odd idea of how to engage people in the resolution of policy concerns. Marr, on the other hand, has a habit of rushing to judgement. In this case he has avoided the more laborious task of researching the circumstances of the Rudd phenomenon and notably his decision making and gone straight for the pigeon hole of choice.
    Marr is at his best when observing live action. He is predictable and often appalling when empathy or subtlety is required.

  4. deccles

    Has anybody who has posted read the Quarterly Essay? The points that Marr make are highlighted with lengthy contextual direct quotes from Kevin Rudd himself. To suggest that Marr constructed a 100 page essay based on a lunch and short walk with Kevin Rudd alone is frankly insulting.

    Secondly, the Essay has every quote referenced and annotated.

  5. Delerious

    I liked Kerry’s interview with David. David looked in constant pain and tried to ascertain from Kerry empathy after Rudd’s big scary rage attack the last time Kerry interviewed Rudd. Kerry wasn’t buying in. I did agree with some things David was trying to say, pop-psychology aside, I just don’t think David had an constructive argument.

  6. PatriciaWA

    Kevin the Terrible of Australia

    This man has sinned.
    He is undone because found out.
    Men everywhere complain.
    His crimes are broadcast far and wide.
    He is unfit for public office.

    He was once seen in a night club.
    He has berated an air hostess.
    He has worked too hard.
    He has expected too much of others.
    He engenders fear in colleagues
    Such that none will speak ill of him
    And all comport themselves well.

    He has publicly eaten his own ear wax.
    He has raised his voice in interview
    With redoubtable Red Kerry.
    He once privately expressed impatience
    With agents of all powerful China.

    His affectation of a gentle mien,
    Pretence of domestic harmony
    With loving wife, cat, dog and
    Loyal children does not convince.

    Nor does his bringing us prosperity
    Amidst the chaos of a broken world.
    There his greatest wrongdoing has been
    To place the welfare of the common man,
    The national economy and body politic
    Before the powerful interests
    Of international conglomerates
    Whose rights to the riches of our land
    Transcend all others.

    All this because of anger in his heart
    Against a father now long dead.
    For that he still attacks
    The powerful, the great, the good,
    Our mighty mining magnates,
    Heroic men, more fathers to this nation,
    More generous to us their media sons,
    Than this would-be patricide.

  7. JaneShaw

    I thought Marr was just desperately trying to dredge something interesting out of a study on the most boring person on earth. Hidden depths of RuddRage (aka sulks) was the best he could come up with. My heart goes out to him, but I didn’t think it was worthy of the Quarterly.

  8. David Sanderson

    The trouble with Marr is that he has aspirations to be much more than just a journalist. He feels that he has a level of insight into the ‘dark corners of the soul’ that entitles him to go on these Freudian novelistic explorations, which have a rather dated and period flavour.

    At the risk of committing the same sin myself may I suggest that he has an unrealised desire to be the modern-day Patrick White and that these novelistic excursions are about his own rage at not achieving this goal.

  9. kev

    Aggressive Narcissism includes the following traits:

    • Glibness/superficial charm
    • Grandiose sense of self-worth
    • Pathological lying
    • Cunning/manipulative
    • Lack of remorse or guilt
    • Shallow affect
    • Callous/lack of empathy
    • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.

    (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism)

    Doesn’t this describe Kevin Rudd to a tee?

    “Pride goes before the fall…”

  10. Syd Walker

    Perhaps re-branding the article might help. How about:

    “Ego Trip: The Psychoanlytical Meanderings of David Marr” ?

  11. Billy Blogs

    What amazes me is the desperate way the left voters are clinging to the sinking ship. Hit the life rafts my friends, it’s going to the bottom.

    Talk about spin – It’s quite extraordinary. The abuse of the Chinese at COP15 – amazing. Had that been Howard/Costello/Abbott….well, I can only imagine the outrage.

    Rudd is a unique individual – he has some serious mental issues that went hidden to the public for just long enough so he could secure the country’s top job.

    But as with all conmen, their fall is sudden and dramatic. Once exposed nothing they say is taken seriously. My only advice to the ALP is cut him loose, clear the decks and re-build from the ground up.

  12. David Sanderson

    Billy, your spoutings might relieve your feelings but they don’t add anything.

  13. shosking@ombo.nsw.gov.au

    Well said Mark. Its almost strange amongst the cacophony of every hack in the country to lay the boot in on Rudd that someone’s said something sensible. I saw Marr on the 7:30 report conducting his back of hand assessment of the ‘inner’ real psyche of Rudd and just winced. It was truly embarressing. To have a scribe who you’ve let into your inner circle conducting amateur psycho analysis on you on national tv was downright perverse. Perhaps it didn’t occur to Marr that Rudd was angry cos it had dawned on him that he’d let a pretentious fool into his circle.

  14. Billy Blogs

    Sorry David, only those who agree can add. My mistake :-).

  15. David Sanderson

    “Rudd … has some serious mental issues”

    It is statements like these Billy, that have no basis, which demonstrate that you are only interested in relieving your feelings, not adding to the debate.

  16. deccles

    David Sanderson your own character assassination of David Marr isn’t adding to the debate, nor does it have any basis. So either you’re being deliberately hypocritical or displaying tunnel vision.

  17. klewso

    I don’t mind David Marr, but I do have an issue with his brand of “infallibility”, too often on show!
    Could he be basing his “prognosticative analysis of Rudd” on what his own “doctor” has told him?

  18. Michael R James

    @DECCLES at 2:04 pm “Has anybody who has posted read the Quarterly Essay? The points that Marr make are highlighted with lengthy contextual direct quotes from Kevin Rudd himself. To suggest that Marr constructed a 100 page essay based on a lunch and short walk with Kevin Rudd alone is frankly insulting.”

    Yes, I have. I partly agree with you. But actually I also did not come away with the overwhelming impression that the “rage” hypothesis was the main thing (I haven’t reached the end of the Q essay yet.) but that it was partly a media beat-up, trying to find an angle. Marr said clearly that the frank discussion on the beach was not a rage, not one of those obscenity-laced tirades but a genuinely passionate outpouring from Rudd.
    The title “Power Trip” is truer but actually a bit banal. Is there any leader this does not apply to? Marr provides a “description” of Kevin Rudd but could not really penetrate the motivation behind his peculiarities. The destructive obsession with detail to the exclusion of getting the broader picture in focus and actually done. The deaf, dumb and blind insistence on ABC-AM that he had very, very hard work ahead of him! I am sure I was one of thousands who shouted at the radio: bloody hell, take a long holiday, take a chill pill, a massage

    Whitlam is one of his heroes yet he doesn’t seem to have learnt much from the great man (I have more to say on that in tomorrow’s Drum); certainly he doesn’t want to crash in 35 months like Whitlam (but he HAS anyway but without getting much of his agenda, unlike Whitlam). This may be inherent in most politicians but it also could have been reinforced by Goss’s two objectives, cited in Marr’s essay: “”First, to run a traditional Labor government and drive important reforms; and second, to deliver a long-term, stable government. Taking the public with us.”

    These are all very bright guys but they continue to think they can do the impossible: implement long-needed reform (always long overdue after a protracted Coalition government, in Qld it was like traversing geological epochs), be a progressive government yet simultaneously bring the people with you! Australians are extraordinarily and narrowly timid. If Gough couldn’t do it (and he did do it for two elections, not for the third) then one has to be a realist and, if one let’s one patriotism overrule ego, go for the “crash or crash through” strategy. I would gamble against all the dumb polls and venture to say that if he had taken a genuine approach to a real ETS (fewer concessions to miners more real action) and had strongly defended a compassionate asylum policy, then he would be better in the polls than he is now. Either way he would probably still win the next election but the difference is he would not have compromised policy nor his credibility.

  19. Lorraine Henneberry

    It makes me wonder why anyone would go into politics in this country or anywhere else, because all that happens is abuse. There is very rarely anything constructive said, someone always has an agenda mainly for their own self promotion.
    Many of those who criticize wouldn’t have the intestinal fortitude to “have a go” but wait till some one stumbles and then circle like sharks. It makes me sick.
    Let the guy have a go and then see what happens, vote him out at the next election if he dose not measure up.
    I can’t believe the hateful nastiness of some people, it’s the gang mentality.
    David Marr surprised with his psychoanalysis silly me I thought he was just a journalist.

  20. klewso

    I’d love to see “the media” getting this sort of “psycho-analysis” – their “witch-ever” god knows enough of them need it!
    Along with relaying “the news” that their stools are “pungent”!

  21. shepherdmarilyn

    Actually it is the other media misinterpreting what Marr actually wrote. And deliberately so.

    What he wrote was Rudd’s anguish because he wants to do good things for the sick, the poor and the dispossessed but things get over run by beaurocracy.

    It was an interesting essay and I felt enormously sad for the 11 year old who watched his father die an horrendous death over 8 weeks, got dumped with relatives, slept in the car, got sent to an abusive catholic boys school and so on.

    It takes an enormous amount of guts to go on and become a bright and gifted diplomat and the descriptions of the job Rudd actually did in Queensland are the polar opposite of the Dr Death syndrome the Nats whine on about.

    The problem in Australia is that the press gallery are a bunch of bored twats who got so used to turning every statement by Howard into a news story that they don’t know how to do any work any more.

    David said in the first interview that Rudd’s rage is a rage to do good, not that it is a bad rage.

    I understand that rage – I discovered at 14 that there were aborigines in this country who were treated as flora and fauna and rage against that machine has kept me advocating for aboriginal rights ever since. I have the same rage over our treatment of refugees who come and ask for our help.

    The same rage when I see cowards beat a smaller person or we bomb another country to bits and have no empathy for the victims.

    I think Rudd empathises way too much which is not a problem until the hard bitches like Gillard over rule him.

  22. David Sanderson

    There is scarcely a post from Marilyn these days which does not incorporate her Gillard-phobia. From the way she carries on you’d be excused for concluding that Gillard must have personally strangled all her chooks and disemboweled all her guinea pigs.

  23. John Bennetts

    David Marr is a lawyer turned journalist. Or is he the celebrated English neuroscientist? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Marr_(neuroscientist) Believing it to be the former, I suggest that he chill out a bit, too. I suspect that he has overplayed his hand in his assessment of the PM.

    OTOH, as I said in response to an earlier article on this subject, I fear that the PM’s performance is suffering due to a feeling of self importance, of urgency, in part made worse by lack of sleep. If only he would delegate more, trust his front bench, use Cabinet as it is designed to be used and take regular breaks away from the office I feel that his personality would return to being three-dimensional. At present, it is, at most, two dimensional, sometimes only one. (Is he still cranky? Yes/No)

    For instance: Peter Garrett heard of the dropping of the ceiling insulation program, not from a process of Cabinet discussion, or even a message from the PM, but by reading the morning papers. What does that tell you?

    My personal history has convinced me that I am capable of extremely hard work, but that after a period of this, I become less considerate of others, snappy, shoot from the hip, make less nuanced decisions, perhaps even stuff up comletely.

    For mine, the PM is simply overtired and fatigued and needs to pace himself by only getting involved on a needs basis, rather by than trying to row all 8 oars in the boat.

  24. ggm

    I haven’t been a journalist nor play one on TV. But people I knew who went to journalism school in the UK, many years ago said that a sign of a good journo was one who could hide their own point of view from the story.

    I watched Marr on the 7:30 report, and I got a sense that Marr hadn’t succeeded in this aim. I don’t think he even tried, and I also agree with the comment above that he was hoping Kerry would buy into the story and share his experiences, (which Kerry was far too sensible to do).

    The verbal “…but that was off the record so I can’t tell you …” was all over it. “I have secret knowledge, trust me, after all I am literate and therefore believable”

    Mind you: I think Rudd probably is a control freak and a bastard to work for…

  25. Billy Blogs

    David, I truely believe Rudd has some mental issues based on what I have seen, his body language, and what I have read. He is as insincere a person as I’ve ever seen. This is reflected by his policies, and backed up by people who have crossed his path or gotten in his way.

    You can believe that this is all an anti-ALP conspiracy if you like, but there weren’t many journos in this country that didn’t put their own professional credibility on the line by backing him to the hilt in 2007.

    Those same journos will now be guarding their notes and sources with their lives, because when it’s all over for Rudd, the books will hit the stands and we’ll finally learn the facts of what I’ve suspected all along.

  26. David Sanderson

    Billy, it doesn’t matter what you “truely believe” if there is no evidence other than what you have chosen to believe about his “body language”.

    Your belief that journalistic fear cum conspiracy is stopping the truth coming out is pathetic and a reflection of your own mental limitations.

  27. baal

    Fascinating though all this speculation as to whether or not Kevin Rudd is mad or bad, it does indicate there is definitely a much wilder elephant in the room – the man who was routinely referred to for many years as ‘the mad monk’. I take it we don’t think Tony Abbott’s mental stability is an issue? Just asking.

  28. Mister Ed

    It’s over-analysis of the highest order… boy shaped by childhood experiences, hardly a revelation regardless of the content

  29. Billy Blogs

    Surely David, even you must be asking the question about Rudd’s mental capacity given that those now publicly stating their opinions have moved from just the far right media, to the centre, and now centre/left?

  30. John Bennetts

    @Billy Blogs:

    Three tilts at the same windmill. Are you trying for a record?

    Your opinions are just that – opinions. Enough already!

  31. Frank Campbell

    “an angry man bent on revenge for his poor childhood bereft of a strong and positive male.”

    Couldn’t we provide one? Is it too late?

    At the end of the day I’m prepared to step up to the plate if Gordon Grech turns down this opportunity to make amends. In the national interest.

    And did you notice David Marr stumble when he left the studio? Blindness is an occupational hazard of the tossariat…

  32. geomac

    The traits listed by Kev pertaining to narcissism would be characteristics I see in Abbott especially the one concerning lack of empathy, remember Bernie ? I fail to see what relevance there is to what Marr has said. Is it more than pure speculation or more informative than an assessment from shock jock ? Abbotts comment about a girls gift of virginity should make fascinating reading if Marr does his analysis on Abbott. Personally I think its a load of bollocks.

  33. acannon

    I’m a bit tired of all this obsessive reporting on what politicians are ‘really like’. I don’t think it really matters what personal demons any public figure may suffer from unless it directly affects their ability to do their job. (Although it does appear that this may be the case with Rudd to a certain extent; it would be interesting to see if his behaviour changed if he got a decent amount of sleep).

    They need to be capable. They need to be able to handle pressure and make hard decisions. They need to be intelligent. They need to be able to negotiate, and argue a case. Some compassion would be good. They need to follow the law. It would be nice if they didn’t fib though it appears that’s expecting too much. If they want us to vote for them they need our respect, but we don’t necessarily have to like them as people.

  34. jenauthor

    David, I truely believe Rudd has some mental issues based on what I have seen, his body language, and what I have read. He is as insincere a person as I’ve ever seen. This is reflected by his policies, and backed up by people who have crossed his path or gotten in his way.]

    If you say this about Rudd — what would your assessment of Abbott be? He looks to me to be more in need of psychoanalysis than Rudd, and his anger and malice is far more visible — or is that okay … does that make him ‘genuine’?

    It is indeed in the eye of the beholder … because if I were to ask myself who I saw as more sincere and caring for our country (individuals and as a whole) I’d pick Rudd over Abbott in an instant.

    As to Marr’s opinion — it is simply that — an opinion. What Marr would call anger, others would term determination. Overcoming childhood trauma to become the country’s leader would make a great ‘feelgood’ story on one of the tabloid shows. It amazes me that the media can make ‘a negative’ out of a positive everytime, where Rudd is concerned.

    Rudd’s big mistake is that the media finds him boring — and they NEED controversy to justify their existence.

  35. bakerboy

    It’s truly amazing how the alleged temper tantrums of Kevin Rudd, publicised over the past year or so, have led to so much pop psychology. Ok, so he gets a bit angry sometimes, so what? If I was PM and had to deal with some of the dills who sit in parliament and collect a salary for a sinecure, I’d be pretty pissed off too. Swearing at Copenhagen? – wow, Kevvie used the f- word. Don’t we remember Keating of the foul mouth and Hawke who really called a spade a f’ing shovel. Rudd has a bit of the martinet about him, he’s highly intelligent and doesn’t suffer fools easily. Marr’s essay I think, draws a long bow by picking out a single childhood experience and extrapolating it across a whole life. In my case, 62 years ago when I was 4, my mother left a cinema at night and forgot to take me with her. I woke up in the darkened, empty theatre, scared shitless. Does that stop me from going to the movies? No.

  36. eclectic eel

    As an amateur psychologist, Marr seems to go totally out on a limb with his performance on the 7.30 report. At first
    we are led to believe the anger hypothesis is a negative – but then he reveals that the anger reveals more of Rudds true
    altruistic feelings.

    It would have been nice to see David do a similar piece on John Howard in the final few months of his prime- ministership. Paranoid delusions – manic hyperactivity perhaps – but nobody would have gone on the 7.30 report
    and laid the analysts couch bare.

    Have a drink on me Kev and sleep in a bit more often – your efforts at reform are totally ignored by the media.


  37. richie ben

    I agree – read the article before you comment. I have read the Australian Quarterly article, and Marr rests the entirety of his “driven by anger” theory on a twenty minute discussion with Rudd – this at the end of a long period of following, observing, interviewing and, I guess, taking notes. Twenty minutes is not a very long period to formulate an entire personality analysis. In my view the article is a an enticingly written piece of low calibre pop pyschology. There is no linkage of the angry episode with the other failings attributed to Rudd – overly long speeches for example. There is no analytical linkage of the alleged anger with, say, the failure to deliver on the ETS. One gets the strong impression that if the last interview had taken place on the beach Marr could have concluded that Rudd was motivated by porpoises.

    And the point that is made, really, is of no value. So what if Rudd is angry? We are all angry sometimes, including Jesus and the moneylenders in the temple. The fact that a person is primarily angry, or humorous, or sexually aroused says nothing about the policy choices they make or the paths they follow to achieve outcomes.

    The Marr piece has given Marr some publicity and has given an easy, cheap, peg on which to hang attacks on Rudd. It is unfortunate that it was written.

  38. Tom McLoughlin

    ha ha ha ha.

    You guys. Being in the ALP is surely an exercise in anger and dissillusion. Marr might as well say the ALP is a spiv machine that’s lost it’s moral purpose for existing. But where is the news in that? People argue Latham was genetically crazy – nooooo, the ALP makes ’em that way. I mean look at Bob Hawke going around promoting a world nuke dump, back slapping John Howard and bragging about saving the Franklin River. Erk.

    Anyway, Marr is surely referring to a very basic phenomenon – Rudd is trained as a diplomat and he’s being sledged by a nutter like Abbott. Kevin can’t handled being bellowed at. And not liked. It’s nothing more than crude meaningless emotional violence. But for Ruddy it’s somehow a sign of professional failure when it’s not. The PM is not meant to be likeable, he’s meant to be a respected. Get over it Kev. You are not a F*CKING DIPLOMAT ANYMORE!


  39. Syd Walker

    For his next stunt, David Marr might care to psycholanalyse all the so-called, self-important ‘Insiders’ – a carefully selected subset of Australian political commentary that never includes, shall we say, any ‘Helen Thomas opinions’.

    Then perhaps they could all do a reality TV show together so the Australian public can turn the channel and forget all about them.

    These ‘top-flight’ journalists come across to me as opportunistic smart-asses who value, above all, their future employability in one branch or another of Murdoch’s New Corp.

    What went wrong with their toilet-training, David? (and yours)

    When is ONE mainstream journalist going to point out what many in the community have knwn for years: the war in Afghanistan is not only illegal and immoral. Even more importantly, the ‘founding myths’ of the war – 9-11 and all that – are obviously a bogus pack of lies to anyone who cares to look into the matter with an open mind.

    Why do all these ‘insiders’ keep lying to the Australian community about mass murder? Why are public funds employed to keep these liars on our screens?

    See http://edwardrynearson.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/is-the-war-in-afghanistan-justified-by-911/ – and weep for the state of Australian journalism and political commentary which has studiously avoided this explosive story for years and years on end.

    ‘Insiders’ like Marr sneer at ‘conspriacy theorists’, while inventing the most preposterous theories and foisting them on us all for a nice price. They have abandoned the most fundamental cornerstone of their profession: the quest to reveal important truths to the public. Shame!

  40. Astro


    The electorate is MUCH smarter than they were a decade or two ago. The term SPIN is now known to everyone and following the broken promises in State and Federal politics, electors are HARSH when politicians break so many promises.

    Further media is also smarter and is now reviewing issues in far greater depth.

    Electors have access to social nextwork sites and sites like Crikey, so their opinions and the mood are now more out there.

  41. jenauthor

    Question Astro: — did you just watch the community cabinet?

    The electorate is smarter in some respects, but they are also much more easily conned by the media. Depth is not on the agenda. Instant information means cherry-picking. And cherry-picking is the easiest way to divert or subvert understanding. The Aussie mainstream media has become expert at this.

    The media isn’t smarter — I’m married to one of those so I have some insight here.

    The media is now time-poor. 10 or 15 years ago a staff had say, 5 journalists in a particular area. Now there might be 2. Therefore research is confined to quick google searches and taking tips from other news services.

    There is another point that must be admitted … news media companies are no longer owned and run by news people. Vested interest holds sway. So those 2 journalists MUST keep to the ‘company line’ otherwise their precious position will go to someone else.

    Also, some media people have managed to become personalities by virtue of their opinion pieces. Now we have a battery of ‘opinion’ writers (rather than actual journalists) giving us analysis from their point-of-view. Just sitting through one episode of SKY’s agenda will show you how the journalists have become commentators — instead of providing the facts and information, they pre-digest the information and disgorge a slanted analysis.

  42. Syd Walker

    Just out of curiosity, was my last post censored because:

    (a) I was rude about David Marr (true, I was)
    (b) I was irreverent about psychoanalysis (true, I was)
    (c) I was scathing about Australian journalists as a whole (true, I was, mea culpa)
    (d) I mentioned my opinion that 9-11 was clearly a false-flag operation – and that consequently that the entire basis for the so-called war on Terror is bogus – yet no mainstream Australian journalists have ever reported this topic accurately so far
    (e) provided a link substantiating that claim, in the form of a multi-part YouTube video of a lecture delivered recently by a liberal American Theology Professor?

    That link again…

  43. Astro


    The Community Cabinets are a media stunt show. Please. I did not see two way consultation, and if they had been it should have been away from the media.

    Look at the consultation with the Mining Companies. Pre the tax there was NONE. Its a con job. Post the tax its so narrow in scope that its worthless.

  44. Chris Murphy

    I believe that Kevin Rudd is success-driven. That would make him a ‘three’ on the Enneagram. The sin associated with being a three is deceit – telling untruths to make yourself look better. Clever threes sugar-coat their constant need to promote themselves with plenty of self-effacing comments. I remember Latham (an eight on the Enneagram) revealing that Kevin asked he be given a particular title in the proposed cabinet line-up. (Which was something to do with terrorism). Special titles, letters after their names, great CVs, notches on the bed-post – there are different types of threes – but they all need to ‘look good’ in their own way.

  45. David Sanderson

    Syd, conspiracy theorists such as yourself mistake an open mind for a vacant mind. Nobody wants to listen to people like you, not because there is a conspiracy to silence you, but because you talk total twaddle with a dash of bunkum and balderdash added, just to keep things uninteresting.

  46. David Sanderson

    Syd, you weren’t censored, any post with a link goes through moderation. Please take your ridiculous paranoid fantasies elsewhere. There are innumerable websites that cater to this dreary conspiracy rubbish.

  47. Chris Murphy

    Of course if David Marr is right and Kevin Rudd’s problem is anger then KRudd is a ‘one’ – a Perfectionist. Anyone who know’s the Enneagram and knows KRudd would be able to tell you. He might be able to tell you himself.

    There are people who give courses on this stuff in Canberra. There was a play in the Sydney Festival that was based on the Enneagram. Most people who go thru formal spiritual training study it. It is begging to be used by the media but hasn’t much been picked up yet!

  48. Bob the builder

    Cheap idiotic psycho-babble! Never been a fan of Kaptain Krudd, but do we really need this rubbish analysis. It’s a step up from Michelle Grattan’s reading of the tea leaves, but how about some thinking and analysis?

    That said, I haven’t read the 1/4 essay since that half-baked drunken rant by Toohey on the Intervention. Anyone’s welcome to make an argument, but at least the editions should do some sort of vetting of logical errors and unsubstantiated flights of fantasy.

    This country’s full of interesting people, but the same dreary urban gossiperatti always get the guernsey.

  49. Barbara Boyle

    O so fascinating, trawling through the comments, some perceptive,some dubious and the spectrum in between,always intriguing.
    My own response after READING marr’s effort was of the “So what?” persuausion.
    The noteworthy reaction, from my point of veiw, has been the local radio host’s demeanour as when interviewing david marr and, later, Anthony the Spin Doctor. One of excited uncertainty as to whether this was a blood on the floor moment or not.
    For those who didn’t know this urgent fact, Spin is a 4-letter word defining something cleverly detected by the federal Opposition who themselves were innocent of such heinous ‘ orribleness but who could easily recognise it as it was invented by K Rudd and therefore needed much exposure so as to alert all and sundry to its dangerous presence. It ranks in importance with Back Flip for the ‘journalists’ in our midst..
    The latest infliction of the spin detector in action, a virtuoso band wagon performance by the breathlessly leadfooted host ,’evenings’ this time who haltingly repeated something described as an oldie but a goodie (it may have been old but was never good), has left me dumfounded.
    Auntie, I despair!

  50. 44fx290

    Marr’s essay — big yawn. The editors of Quarterly Essay ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing such psychobabble.

    And that’s quite aside from the failings of the Rudd Government, which are many. But you don’t have to engage in Marr’s poison pill essay to come to that conclusion.

  51. Jack Strocchi

    Mark Bahnsich said:

    Marr argues that Rudd is primarily driven by anger. Purportedly, this rage stems from his childhood experiences.

    I’m sure Marr would not like his own public career to be assessed on the basis of a reductive argument that one emotional state, putatively the result of childhood trauma, determines his entire life,

    There is nothing wrong with a bit of amateur psychologising. We all do it and politicians are fair game, they go into the public sphere not afraid to dish it out. They should cop it sweet.

    The problem is not with psychologising, its with bad psychologising. Marr gets the role of Rudd’s anger ass-backwards. Rudd’s anger is a side-effect, not a driving force, in his career path. Rudd is not angry because of his modest origins, he is angry because of his relatively modest destiny.

    He compares himself and (correctly) idolises Whitlam, a true man of destiny. Rudd hero worships Whitlam because Gough is everything he is not and never will be – a leader of men in a great cause. And since he falls well short of this mark, and always will, he is angry with himself and with others. Hence his infamous dummy-spits.

    Rudd’s sense of thwarted ambition does not drive him, it torments him. Rudd is essentially a managerial, rather than entrepreneurial, personality. As I observed in 04 MAY 2008:

    Rudd is the quintessential softly-softly diplomat who abhors damaging conflict.

    Thats why he squibbed on Climate Change and the Double Dissolution. He is going on the RSPT out of a sense of compensation and to shore up his Left-wing.

    Unfortunately Rudd will never achieve what he thinks is the proper destiny of a PM. He just does not have it in him to be a great leader and he knows it deep down inside. Rudd is angry with himself for failing to live up to his own ideals of political courage.

  52. David Sanderson

    Amateur psychobabble has always been nothing more than a tissue-thin cover for aggression and insults. It is pseudo-scientific and a dishonest way to try to puff-up opinions into something more consequential than their real worth.

  53. Jack Strocchi

    David Sanderson @ #52 said:

    At the risk of committing the same sin myself may I suggest that he has an unrealised desire to be the modern-day Patrick White and that these novelistic excursions are about his own rage at not achieving this goal.

    I think it is worth taking that risk since sin of psychologising barely rises to the level of venal. And Marr senses something of the same sense of thwarted ambition in Rudd, perhaps that was what attracted him to Rudd in the first place.

    Marr was correct to spot anger as a tell-tale sign of Rudd’s inner demons. But his attribution of the cause of that anger – Rudd’s modest social origins – is hackneyed, flimsy and superficial. I dont think Rudd spends much time grieving about his relatively lowly origins. My guess he is quite proud, and justifiably so, of his ascent from humble beginnings to his current grand station.

    Rudd is angry with himself for the same reason that Marr is angry with himself. They both had monumental ambitions which, although partially achieved, have not really come to fruition due to inner-failings.

    Both Marr and Rudd are unashamed hero-worshippers whose achievements can never match their chosen role models.

    Marr would like to be a great psychological novelist like White but he simply lacks the insight and literary skill. Instead he played it safe and became a lawyer and journo.

    Rudd would like to be the great political statesman like Whitlam but he lacks the balls and the sheer world-historic self-confidence to put it all on the line. He is a diplomat at heart.

    Both suffer from the rage of out-sized ambitions housed in worthy-but-dull personas.

  54. David Sanderson

    The above is typical of how completely unfounded these psychobabble speculations are.

  55. Bob the builder

    He grew up on a dairy farm didn’t he? His dad wasn’t acting deputy under-caretaker of the toilet brush in the caretaker’s maid’s reserve toilet for the chief executioner’s banished bastard’s son’s one-legged schizophrenic daughter’s country cottage was he?
    It might not be the exalted heights of the kommentariat, but a dairy farm is hardly some horrible, shameful poverty-struck background. Ummm….. some self-reflection would be useful here. There’s a few people (Mr. Marr, you’re first) who could do with a little self-reflection themselves.
    Ever wonder why lots of the common folk think you people are a bunch of up-yourselves pricks?

  56. David Sanderson

    His father was a dairy share-farmer, a precarious way of making a living, especially back then. When his father was killed in a car accident they were kicked off the farm and the family clearly had a pretty tough time for a number of years. Clearly also, poverty was there, not third world style but real nonetheless.

  57. Bob the builder

    I don’t think anyone’s denying the hardship, but it’s a little overblown by the silver spoon set. It’s like his world is so foreign to them that of course he’d be consumed by rage and/or shame at his origins.

  58. Jack Strocchi

    DAVID SANDERSON @ #54 said:

    The above is typical of how completely unfounded these psychobabble speculations are.

    No, not “typical”. My theories of Rudd’s PM behaviour are testable and have passed tests.

    Your extrusions do not even rise to the level of “babble”.

    Since Rudd has been PM I have correctly predicted his main ideological tacks, in part based on an assessment of his character.
    From his mini-me-ism regarding Howard.
    To the “>empty symbolism of the 2020 conference.
    And now to his swing to the Left to counter the swing to the Greens.

    So evidently my analysis of Rudd’s pyscho-political behavior has legs.

    You have predicted nothing, but bagged everything,
    The intellectual equivalent of a black hole.

  59. David Sanderson

    Jack, amuse us, tell us about the “tests” your theories have “passed”.

    The fact that you have previously attacked Rudd, in a highly predictable, unoriginal and dreary manner, does not constitute a “test” and provides no evidence to support your crank theories.

  60. Jack Strocchi

    DAVID SANDERSON @ #56 said:

    The fact that you have previously attacked Rudd, in a highly predictable, unoriginal and dreary manner, does not constitute a “test” and provides no evidence to support your crank theories.

    I have not “attacked Rudd”. I have called him a “quintessential diplomat”.
    Learn to read or at least go through the motions of credible quotation practice.

    FWIW I think Rudd is a highly competent manager, which is a good thing.
    But not an inspirational leader in the manner of Gough, who he idolises.
    Thus he is unable to point to any substantial landmark pieces of legislation, just a myriad of worthy-but-dull regulations.

    Marr is confusing Rudd’s anger as a cause (his chip on the shoulder over modest origin) with Rudd’s anger as an effect (his frustration at his relatively modest achievements).
    Hence his frustration at the disparity between his actuality and his aspiration.
    Which boils over into anger at underlings, letting off a bit of steam, not a hanging offence.
    Not. Rocket. Science.


    Jack, amuse us, tell us about the “tests” your theories have “passed”.

    Follow the links, read them and weep. My theories predicted Rudd’s broad ideological tacks.
    His early mimicry of Howard, his empty promises on CPRS at 2020 and his recent cojones-growing exercise to impress the Left in the lead up to 2010.
    Successful prediction = passed tests.

    Meanwhile you have provided no proof that your analysis of Rudd-ALP is robust enough to generate confirmed predictions.
    All you have done is heckle, and even that not very well.

  61. David Sanderson

    Read them and weep? They’re not that funny.

  62. Jack Strocchi

    DAVID SANDERSON @ #58 said:

    Read them and weep? They’re not that funny.

    Lurching from “point-and-splutter” to “point-and-titter” is no substitute for facts and logic.
    A word of advice: when you’ve dealt yourself a handful of nothin’ you need to learn how to play it cool to stay in the game.
    Your bluster doesn’t fool anyone.

  63. David Sanderson

    I’ll let you play with the tarot cards Jack. Much more your scene and they must come in handy after you’re sick of looking at the tea leaves.

  64. Jack Strocchi

    Its possible that AUS’s leadership vacum is not solely down to Rudd’s essentially conservative and managerial persona. We have had a steady-as-she-goes polity for most of the post-Cold War era. It is not conducive to crusading leaders, as both Hewson and Keating discovered.

    A good leader inspires hope in the troops and fear and loathing in the enemy on the eve of a crusade. A good manager is there to mind the shop. Which category do you think Rudd falls into? More to the point, is AUS in the tennies more like a crusade or a shop?

    The fact is that good followers make good leaders. Brits wanted to be tally ho when Churchill took the reigns. The French yearned for Napolean and then de Gaulle. Australians were passionate about Whitlam and Fraser in a way that they will never be about Rudd and Abbott.

    Most Australian voters are too comfortable to be interested in voting for anyone inclined to give the social system a good shake up, even if it is in a good cause that they notionally support. They are disengaged from politics, being more interested in their personal and professional lives, social networking, home rennovations, part-time study, hovering over the kids etc

    The dont want to follow a leader. They want to immerse themselves in private life. Thats why they voted for Kevin “more of the same” Rudd in the first place.

    So Rudd should not beat himself up for not being able to deliver on “the greatest moral challenge of the era” or for falling short of the inspirational example of Whitlam. He should get back to what he does best, which is being on top of details and counting beans.

    A mans go to know his limitations.

  65. Jack Strocchi

    The only danger for Rudd is if the electorate rejects him for being too hopey-changey. The AUS polity is almost eerily conservative these days. It has a hung a gigantic “Do Not Disturb’ sign outside the white-picket fence for more than two decades.

    Both Hewson and Keating were rejected by the electorate when their financial and cultural radicalism got too far-fetched. One reason Howard went on and on for so long is that he generally left well enough alone. The only time he came close to losing was the GST (change) and Work Choices (change).

    So Rudd’s general political strategy – lofty rhetoric on legislation, worthy-but-dull regulations – is probably the right one. He really does not need to show that he can face up to “the greatest moral challenge of a generation”. Just give the appearance of doing something worthwhile now and again – and actually deliver.

    Australians are really not in to “great moral challenges” anymore. Permit me a spot of self-referential linking [Alter Ego: Be my guest you pompous git]

    Great followers make great leaders,

    Does anyone here think that the somnolent AUS polity – reluctantly aging, sitting on its half-million dollar property and six-figure super – is all fired up to follow their King in a death-or-glory charge, whether against global warming or mining barons? Me neither.

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