The Tent Embassy incident is a media story worth studying in classes across the nation for years to come. Why? For the twin boast of becoming one of the most heavily documented stories in recent times — eyewitness accounts, footage shot inside and outside the venue and some stunning photography — and yet also vying for some kind of record for the most number of divergent and flat out contradictory accounts of an incident that took place in full view of hundreds of people. Encased in glass, no less.

But there’s one thing we did learn for sure. Among the deluge of information (or is that misinformation?) we learnt that Gillard was wearing Midas shoes. Size 36, to be exact.

So, yes, we’re in. We’re falling in line with every other media schmuck today and giving the quite upmarket shoe brand some more free publicity for what is, it must be said, a genius PR move on their part.

They’ve rebranded the shoe, slapped it on the front of their website, and now they’re watching the headlines roll in …

We wouldn’t want to be accused of reading too much into the strategy of a couple of marketing hot shots, but we can’t help ourselves. The shoe campaign, the whole Tent Embassy debacle in fact, is emblematic of one of the many problems Gillard can’t shake. She tries to go big, she tries the vision thing, and yet, and yet, every political gesture, almost every piece of policy, every piece of good economic news, is lost in triviality, reduced to the equivalent of a discussion around her large earlobes.

Gillard’s not alone here; this extends to politics as a whole. But where it works for Tony Abbott (upon listening to Channel Ten’s Paul Bongiorno valiantly attempt to go beyond “optics and perceptions” at the Press Club on Tuesday to press the opposition leader on why exactly his argument that the government is economically incompetent should be allowed to stand, Abbott reeled off a line about pink batts and cutting the waste), Gillard provides detail, but it doesn’t cut through.

Why? The media machine, her team, society’s obsession with trivial crap like shoes over substance?

No idea. Tell us if you know the answer. No, really, we’d like to know …

Peter Fray

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