The nation needs further accounts of its “Love Rat” Deputy Prime Minister like it needs another thermal coal mine. Surely, there is less than nothing now to be gained from scrutiny of the man’s alleged misdeeds. Hidden corruption is not the true problem with Joyce, or with most any politician. It’s the corruption in plain sight.

Joyce has hardly made a secret of his preposterous views. Still, much of our news media maintains a curious commitment to revealing some powerful secret. Dunno what they expect to do with the Shocking Truth, if it is true or is ever substantiated. Let’s say that we do learn he was led by the libido to a recruitment decision. The scales will not then fall from the eyes of a sightless electorate. Instead, we’ll be blinded just a little longer by the false light of commentators who have come to depict politics as the producers of The Bachelorette depict reality.

This Big Reveal, if it ever comes, will bring no benefit with it. Even if Joyce does go, the nativist Nationals will continue their perverse coalition with a pro-globalisation party and we will continue to suffer the poison of that compromise: more power to corporations, more racism.

That news media can continue to believe that voters will have their political views shifted through a shifted view of particular politicians is, to me, extraordinary. A majority of voters could not currently give a hoot for the small misdeeds of their leaders. Has no one paid any attention to Trump, who, we can be sure, would retain his not-so-miserable approval ratings even if it were revealed that he had acquired a new First Cat solely to shit on Nancy Pelosi’s head? No one really cares about what a politician does, so long as they appear to be fighting for a people yet to encounter the wage growth so often and so falsely promised.

Our progressive political commentators could describe those policies that have led in Australia to a median weekly income of $662 and a crisis of private debt. If they did that important work, then what Joyce did, or did not do, with his payroll would not remain their central concern. Perhaps these progressive commentators believe that a population facing housing stress and insecure work should just get over themselves and think morally, not materially. Perhaps, like conservative Tom Switzer, they refuse to concede that everyday lives for the many have become rather tough.

I don’t know. I just don’t know how progressive commentators can continue to “call out” Joyce, as they did last night on The Drum, yesterday in Fairfax and on the telly last Monday. You can understand why a political editor like Sharri Markson would persevere with the Joyce story. Over at the Daily Tele, they’ve long been careful never to reveal politics as what it actually is: life as it is experienced in a political economy. Progressives, however, should know better. They should be able to see politics as something much bigger than politicians.

But, they really don’t. Progressive column after column appears to question the ethics of politicians or the ethics of the press reporting on politicians. So rarely is that bigger question about our diminished, and documented, faith in the way our political economies are currently organised asked. Our progressive commentators have been so committed to “calling out” Joyce, or Bernardi or Abbott etc., they simply have no time to “call out” a long history of market-friendly policy that has screwed the many.

If you’re screwed — and plenty of us are — a Joyce figure appears as no more than a distraction. It’s a frank view of his political practice and not his preaching that could turn public opinion in this crappy era. People would vote for Beelzebub if they thought there were a fair chance he could restore a little material comfort. I mean, they did.

So, Barnaby’s a hypocrite. Big whoop. So was Julia Gillard. The day she gave her misogyny speech, one lauded by many of the very same progressive commentators currently “calling out” Joyce, her legislation that would affect the nation’s most vulnerable women passed in the Senate. Barack Obama cried for dead children and undocumented peoples, even as he ordered the deaths of more children and the deportation of a record number. Kevin Rudd cried for the Stolen Generation, even as he did nothing for the theft of basic liberties from Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

As for Trump? Well, he’s not so much of a hypocrite. He calls a nation devastated by US intervention a “shithole”, and our progressive commentators long for the statesmanlike hypocrisy of an Obama, who would have kindly called Haiti “developing”. Even as he, and Secretary Clinton, ensured that the minimum wage in that nation was kept low.

Politicians lie. It ought to be the work of our progressive journalists and commentators to enumerate the biggest lies, not the trifles. I’d speak of this refusal to truly examine politics and the lazy, staggering, self-involved hypocrisy of the progressive media class. I won’t. I might get “called out” online.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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