Nov 26, 2012

Come in Spinner: is there anything original in politics?

It seems many anecdotes are just recycled versions of stories about pollies from other generations rather than authentic memories. Do all pollies just plagiarise from their predecessors? And is that OK?

Noel Turnbull

Adjunct professor of media and communications at RMIT University.

Abraham Lincoln

Politicians are often better remembered for anecdotes about them or their nicknames than their policy achievements.

It seems many anecdotes are just recycled versions of stories about pollies from other generations rather than authentic memories — as illustrated by the recent discussion on Crikey about the origin of the comment about the opposition being in front of you and the enemy behind.

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5 thoughts on “Come in Spinner: is there anything original in politics?

  1. Steve777

    I remember Gerard Henderson once condemning Tony Abbott’s nickname of ‘the Mad Monk’ as a disgraceful sectarian jibe. I think it much more likely that the appellation is a typical Aussie play on Mr Abbott’s surname i.e. Abbot = head of a monastery, together with a comment on his often volatile temperament in the years before he became Leader of the Opposition.

  2. Peter Fuller

    I was disappointed to learn (quite recently) that a Fred Daly remark at the height of the 1975 political crisis was not original.
    When Gough W. was enduring a torrid time at the hands of the media, Fred observed that if Gough was to walk across Lake Burley Griffin to Civic, it would be reported with a breathless headline “Whitlam can’t swim.”
    Almost 40 years later, it was drawn to my attention that Richard Nixon had made an equivalent complaint about the nature of reporting about him – after news of Watergate broke.

  3. Bill Hilliger

    @steve777 you have high expectations of some that work for the Australian, Gerard Henderson wouldn’t have the intellect to join the dots of mad monk thingy: Abbott = head of a monastery.

  4. Andybob

    I don’t recall the poison anecdote being attributed to Menzies. There was a rather good one in a similar vein, of Menzies at a rally. A woman yelled out: ‘I wouldn’t vote for ya if you were the Archangel Gabriel’. He responded: ‘Madam, if I were the Archangel Gabriel, you wouldn’t be in my electorate’. No idea if it was original.

  5. db

    For some reason I gained the impression that Tony Abbott’s “Mad Monk” nickname was from his student politics days. I’d heard it was due to a combination of referring to his time in the seminary and his Rasputin-like pursuit of several young ladies. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I heard that from so it may have even been a joke.

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