Scott Morrison's prime ministership began with great speed and vigour. Problems were anticipated and dealt with, rather than left to fester. Barnacles were removed, or at least chipped away at. Key slogans were articulated and a carefully confected image presented. Then, in the week before the Wentworth byelection, it fell off a cliff. Specifically, the kind of cliff in a Warner Bros' cartoon that a character runs over and briefly sprints in mid-air before gravity, and a painful awareness of their fate, takes hold.
The sordid saga of the Jerusalem embassy move dominated the week before and after the byelection. Before, it was a profoundly cynical, ill-informed and highly risky stunt to attract, or save, a tiny number of votes. After, the astonishing lack of process behind it, which included Foreign Minister Marise Payne blindsiding her own department and keeping it in the dark, dominated last week. This was amateur hour stuff by a bunch of people not up to the job.