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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

transgressing stage managed politics « Previous | |Next »
October 24, 2003

It was all so stage managed. Right from the moment when the Imperial president's plane landed, the doors opened and there was Bush and Howard and their wives standing on the steps of Air Force One waving to all and sundry.

Did the imperial president's Air Force One land somewhere and Howard board it so they could make the big entrance together in Canberra for the cameras? It sure looks like it.

That set the theme for a series of set political pieces all of which were carefully stage managed. Bush arriving at Parliament in the long black car; Bush addressing Parliament; the protests down the road from Parliament; and Howard's cliched speech in the House of Representatives. It was all style and publicity that was very tightly controlled and choregraphed.

A dream visit opines Louise Dodson. It showed the political acumen of John Howard. It gave him---now the man of steel--- a big political boost.

Not quite. Rust never sleeps.

More seriously though, there was no democratic substance. The substance had to be forceibly pushed into the stylized set pieces by the Greens who interjected during the imperial president's spin of Washington generalities. That interjection was an act of political transgression. The reaction of the Canberra Press Gallery to the transgression was predictable. Michael Gordon said that "the high jinks of Green senators threatened to poison the atmosphere and demean the occasion".

It was the body language that was the key. The conflict over democracy in Australia could not be hidden from view. The Coalition acted like lackies before the power of the imperial presidency. Bootlickers one and all. Labor just looked uncomfortable, unwilling to defend democratic substance.
Crean's speech affirmed difference within an affirmation of the US/Australia alliance. It was a high note. The Coalition was more interested in physically stopping access to the body of the imperial presidency in our Parliament than ensuring free speech.

The two Green Senators who stood up and interjected were called unAustralian by the bully boys. After Bush left the Chamber, the Liberals looked a rabble inside Parliament, as elbows and abuse were thrown. The Liberals came across as thugs.

Nice image. Defending democracy inside the Australian Parliament is unAustralian by those acting as thugs. Hardly a dream visit.

Oh, it was thanks to CNN for defying orders from the Howard Government not to film in our Parliamentary chamber. We would not have seen the political transgressions otherwise. As Margo Kingston argues Howard went to great lengths to control the Australian media to ensure we saw only the image John Howard wanted us to see. And Alan over at Southerly Buster has more on media exclusion. The story he tells is one of the Australian media being excluded by the Americans.
Here is a conservative attack dog foaming at the Greens. Andrew Dyson talks about Bob Brown in terms of "this vile Brown, this deflowerer of our hard-won national dignity, this despoiler of the restraint and courtesy that characterises the Australian parliamentary tradition." I read it as a parody at first. Alas, its not. Clearly you should not challenge the imperial presidency.

Not to be outdone Andrew Bolt says that Brown stands for chaos and mob violence that leads to totalitarianism. Bolt raises the spectre of fascism.

The violence that lurks beneath the conservative surface erupts with Adelaide radio announcer Andrew Reimer. He said:
"Id like to grab Bob Brown for example, and just ever so delicately lift my knee into his face about five times. Smash his nose and his face in. Thats what Id like to do."
The irony here is that the violence on the conservative side of politics is far greater than that shown by the Greens. The tragedy is that the conservative attack dogs are not aware of their bully boy violence, nor the way they project it onto the Greens.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:31 AM | | Comments (4)


the politicians who are complaining about the actions of the Greens don't have a leg to stand on. their own behaviour in the House is regularly even more noisy and geared towards making infantile remarks worthy of eight year olds.

All in all, a disgusting day for Australian democracy. If saying so is unAustralian, then chalk one up for me.

I agree. Pathetic. At least Crean showed some decency - and backbone - otherwise it would have been cringe factor 10 instead of 9.5.

yes Crean was quite good at the finger waving reminding Washington about the benefits of disagreements between allies.

That reminder was handled quite well: a little bit of finger from the velvet glove of politeness.