May 11, 2012

Tony Abbott: philosopher-prince of the assertion-based community

Tony Abbott now insists things are true merely because he says they are, and his budget reply reflected that.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The only significant phrase uttered by a politician this week was by Tony Abbott, when he asserted that the government’s education refund handouts were  different to the baby bonus because “they just are”. I hope I’m quoting Abbott accurately, because the transcript from that interview was, curiously, not released by Abbott’s office.

As I’ve noted before, Abbott has no interest in consistency, evidence or logic. Such things are the hobgoblins of little minds, and Abbott’s is vast enough to hold multiple positions, often every possible position, on important issues.

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57 thoughts on “Tony Abbott: philosopher-prince of the assertion-based community

  1. dpglt

    Well done Bernard!

  2. paddy

    Your a bloody good writer when you’re on song like today Bernard. You just are.

  3. susan winstanley

    Good one Bernard. Something must be done.

  4. swingingvoter

    Abbott is playing ‘small target’ politics. In contrast Gillard and Swan play a brand of wedge politics that is as destructive to the moral fibre of Australia as when John Howard pointed at a map and said Mabo threatens all freehold.
    Thats the reality!

  5. Pedantic, Balwyn

    BK please forward your article to every other political journalist in the doubtful hope that they may just make Tony Abbott accountable.
    The constant media barrage of criticism of Julia Gillard has provided a diversion that has enabled the Coalition’s rhetoric to become the truth for the majority of voters.
    As we are aware Abbott’s say anything to discredit the Government and complete lack of alternative, costed policies has resonated deeply and only the most stringent scrutiny of the current Coalition policy and standard bearers like Hockey, Robb and Co will provide the electorate with a balanced view for the future of this country.

  6. form1planet

    Bravo Bernard! We long-standing members of the reality-based community salute you.

    Slightly tangentially, I liked Mia Freedman’s comment in The Age last weekend. Asked to comment for a story about anti-vaccination campaigners, she refused to engage, saying “There aren’t two sides to this story. On one hand there’s science. There is no other hand.”


    Has the internet made us dumber? Or is it something they put in the water these days? I swear we’ve moved down the X-axis on the Bell Curve in the last decade, and Abbott’s vacuous thought bubble which contained no numbers, except for the imaginary $50 billion, was another rung in the ladder to Dumbocracy.

    If Australians vote that excuse for a leader into government, they deserve everything they will get.

  8. susansan

    It’s a great relief to hear someone stating the obvious when all that the rest of the 4th estate, including the ABC much of the time, is doing is propagating a universe of obfuscation led by News Ltd, or Limited News. More’s the pity that these fine words will never escape the pages of Crikey and do anything to jolt the addled public discourse.

    The Labor Government is about as lost as any other centre-right party anywhere in the world, having forsaken its brief and lost its social centre of gravity, here in the dying days of the globalised neoliberal experiment. Moving so thoroughly into that orbit just as though it were the only possible way of conceiving ‘reality’ has cut its tongue out and replaced any chance of incisive speech with hypocrisy and regurgitated spin. The public Julia Gillard sounds slower than the speed limit in suburban streets these days and I don’t just mean the drone of her delivery. Her mode of discourse dumbs itself down to the pitiful level of someone addressing people of very limited intellectual capacity. It is indeed intolerable to listen to her when she is not on the floor of parliament, sounding like an interesting, intelligent, gutsy and capable human being. Though one lacking all possible skills and nous in sensing and connecting with the public nerve in any way at all.

    So that’s half the spin story. Here’s the rest of why we’re a nation bogged down in impossibly absurd politics without traction, wheels spinning in futility.

    There is a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest in which Cary Grant utterly disrupts and renders impossible a fine arts auction simply by ‘bidding’ whatever comes into his head, rather than a progressively higher figure than the bid before. He keeps a straight face while doing so. And no-one can do anything about this breach of customary protocol. If you decide to be a barbarian at the ritual called ‘an auction’, you can destroy it while everyone who is there with a serious purpose looks on helplessly.

    Anyone recognize the analogy with the corruption of political protocols in the last couple of years in Australia? Tony Abbott is not a politician of the policy-making school. How very last decade or last century is that very idea!. He is a knee-capper, toe-cutter, a man acting with utter confidence that the press will never hold him to account in any serious or thoughtful way for the gob-smacking absurdities and contradictions of his ever shifting ‘positions’, each one of them formed not to even faintly cohere but simply to throw one more spanner in the working ability of the government. Few could do this with more bald-faced chutzpah, I grant him (and Cary Grant) that; but all of his highly limited creativity lies in saying anything – anything! – that will throw the process of government sufficiently off the rails that it ties itself up in knots and fails to be able to convey to the public any one of its many achievements over the din he manages to create. with the monumental help of the Murdoch press echo-chamber that is detectable even in the framing of questions by Radio National journalists these days!

    The entire press of this Australia, with the very smallest and rarest exceptions such as this site, has had just one deeply uncivil note to sing for the last 12 months or more, which is let’s kick this government to death while it’s down and spit on its high offices, kill it, drown it, drown it out, do anything but take a serious look at the running joke called the Opposition.

  9. deccles

    You know that scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ in the restaurant, the one every one imitates, I just did that at the office desk. I repeat I did not stick my fork in my salad at the end. And unlike Sally’s mine was real.

  10. roaldan1000

    Obviously the prevalent view in the media is that Labor is doomed. Even if you don’t agree with such certainty this far our from an election, it is an understandable position for the media to take given the polls and general political environment.

    However, accepting such a view would appear to impose a duty upon the media to properly scrutinise the alternative. It is a duty the vast majority are not fulfilling

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