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a voice from the past « Previous | |Next »
March 6, 2008

By the time I noticed this it had been up at the ABC site for an hour. By then it had accumulated almost a hundred comments, and comments were closed.

Howard slams Rudd on IR, Iraq

Well I guess somebody has to.

Just about anything that can be said about Howard, the speech, the venue, the practice among ex-prime ministers of providing running commentary on new ones, and anything else related, has already been said in the comments. Except that by dumping on Rudd on IR and Iraq he's also dumping on his own party. But it's pretty clear by now that Howard had lost interest in the Liberal Party long ago.

On the bright side, it will make a lot of opinion columnists very happy.

| Posted by Lyn at 3:02 PM | | Comments (9)
Comments

Comments

I would say that this speech is the first of many on a very lucrative speaking future.
He would be in the top 5 Australian earners on the circuit very quickly. Perhaps even number 1.

This is one passage from Howard's Irving Kristol Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute:

The former Australian government, which I led, was accused of many
things, but never of betraying its essentially centre/right credo. We pursued a blend of economic liberalism – in the classical sense of that term connoting as it does a faith in market forces - and social conservatism. So far from being in conflict the one reinforced the other.

Not quite. There is a contradiction there as traditional values are historically undermined by the global market. Howard glosses this, as always, in terms of each reinforcing the other without arguing the case:
Economic reform and change – inherent in globalisation – can involve
dislocation for communities and individuals. The anxiety this brings cries aloud for consistency and reassurance in other aspects of people’s lives; the sense that not everything is changing.

So he reinforces the changing old whilst repudiating the new liberal values that accompanies economic reform and change. He just tries to block.

Howard goes on to say that from the election in 1996 his government pursued reform and further modernisation of our economy. On the social front we emphasised our nation’s traditional values, sought to resurrect greater pride in her history and became assertive about the intrinsic worth of our national identity. He claims that in the process we ended the seemingly endless seminar about that identity which had been in progress for some years.

That ignores the whole idea of a cosmopolitan Australia based on liberal values as opposed to a conservative Australia based on traditional nationality deeply opposed to liberalism.

Gary,
Howard and Keating made the same mistake, trying to impose identity from the top down and asking more of some people than of others. With Kyoto and the apology Rudd seems to instead give people a framework and let them work things out for themselves.

Lenny Bruce would have found a life-times inspiration from such ghoulish double-speak talk fests.

All the Western worlds leading "edge" psycho-paths strutting their stuff.

John,
I'm amazed reading comments around the place how many people are understanding this as Howard being where he'd rather be with who he'd rather be with. He's being framed as a traitor.

Lyn,
Shaun Carney has a piece in the Age where he says:

Howard reappeared to say that Rudd — and by implication, the majority of Australian voters and the Liberals — was making a terrible mistake. This then required Liberal deputy and industrial relations shadow Julie Bishop to produce a response that made little sense: Howard's speech was brilliant and she fully endorsed his comments, and while the Liberals were allowing WorkChoices to be struck down, it was Labor's policy and it was Labor that should be held to account. By the Liberals. (Yes, the same Liberals who made it possible for WorkChoices to be dismantled.) The confused message(s) is deemed to be necessary because those left behind to carry the Liberal banner in parliament still feel that they should be loyal to Howard, even while he's making them look silly and weak.

They are still living inside their bubble.

Quote Crikey "Even in the rambling lecture Howard gave to his hosts – amongst whom numbered a rogues’ gallery of neo-con duds like convicted perjurer Scooter Libby, disgraced World Banker Paul Wolfowitz and failed UN ambassador John Bolton – he couldn’t avoid dealing with a number of areas where his record isn’t quite what the rugged individualists at the AEI would like to believe."

Let's see if they invite him back.

Marion,
All that rhetoric from someone who doesn't believe in symbolic gestures. Amazing.

Going to the AEI, that neocon stronghold, to stand defiantly with them was a very
symbolic gesture. There he can say stuff like the following without fear of questioning:

Today’s world remains confronted by the ongoing threat of Islamic
fascism, a new and quite unfamiliar assault on our values and way of life. It relies on indiscriminate terror without regard to the identity or faith of its victims. It also calculates that it is the nature of western societies to grow weary of long struggles and protracted debates. They produce, over time, a growing pressure for resolution or accommodation.The particular challenge posed by extremist Islam means therefore more than ever before continued cultural self-belief is critical to national strength.

Of course, the neocons do not have many strongholds left, these days, and few are listening to their message. Howard goes on to say without a touch of irony:
In the protracted struggle against Islamic extremism there will be no stronger weapon than the maintenance by western liberal democracies of a steadfast belief in the continuing worth of our own national value systems. And where necessary a soaring optimism about the future of freedom and democracy. We should not think that by trading away some of the values which have made us who we are will buy us either immunity from terrorists or respect from noisy minorities. If the butter of common national values is spread too thinly it will disappear altogether.

It was Howard who trashed freedom and democracy in the name of national security. It was he who traded away these values to protect Fortress Australia.