Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires ; aussitôt qu’on me fait un rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! Dumas
(There is a woman in every case; as soon as they bring me a report, I say, “Look for the woman!”)
His knighting of the Duke in the Australia Day honours list provided final proof to an astonished world that Australia’s beleaguered Prime Minister Anthony John Abbott, had finally gone barking mad. Now the signs all added up: his erratic, flip-flop, decision-making, his disordered habit of speaking only in moronic slogans and superficial sound bites, his mangled syntax, his bizarre parochialism in the G20, his utterly inappropriate shirt-front taunt to Putin, the G20 playground psychopath, the oddly uncoordinated way he walked like a man holding a pig under each arm all suddenly made sense. The man was crazy. How could voters have missed this? He was stark raving mad. Completely bonkers. Mad as a cut snake. You bet you are, you bet I am.
Some say that now Abbott has completely lost his marbles he must be rolled before he causes further grief; others unkindly venture that he had very few marbles in the first place; whilst those who see no change argue that he’s not about to be deposed because his party harbours no credible heir-apparent. They point to Malcolm Turnbull, a republican moderate who is widely hated by the conservatives and Julie Bishop, who gets some points by just not being Malcolm. Some others fancy tough guy Morrison with that special love conservatives harbour for closet fascism.
Bishop is an ambitious, self-promoter but she is a less than convincing Prime Ministerial candidate who will never live down her fluffy performance as shadow treasurer in 2008. She will also forever be dogged by her Princess Mesothelioma former legal career advocacy for those who opposed the claims of asbestosis victims and rest their cases. Morrison is such a mongrel that he is always appealing to those who hanker after the chimera of ‘strong leadership’ but is monstrously unpopular precisely because of his abrasive bed-side manner and his complete and utter egomania. Yet others point to Abbott’s outstanding lack of credentials in the leadership contest he won unconvincingly by one vote in 2009. How much lower could the bar be set?
All agree, however, the Prime Minister’s behaviour has been exceeding strange of late. Even for Tony Abbott. The focus in the national press has shifted from valiantly attempting to boost his government’s meagre achievements to: ‘Now look what he’s gone and done.’ Even Miranda Devine has turned against her erstwhile champion. Now her News Corp boss, ex-Australian Rupert Murdoch, the king maker of Australian politics, has invited Julie to his bachelor pad in New York for a candlelit supper, after which he has hopped on to his Blackberry.
Rupert has come out thumbs blazing. Peta Credlin is the root of all evil, it would seem to him. Fuelled, no doubt by Bishop’s bitch session, punctuated by mutual toasts of a vintage Piper-Heidsieck, nearly as ancient as Rupert and topped up with his own abundant and free-flowing misogyny, Murdoch has clearly formulated a plan to get rid of Credlin. It can’t be all Tony’s fault. After all, he boasted, I created him. And Julie has told me herself what a cow Credlin is. Cherchez la femme!
Those cheese eating surrender monkeys, the French, have a phrase for it: ‘Cherchez la femme.’ Look for the woman whenever a bloke appears to be off his game. ‘Le Bloke’ may be trying to impress a mistress or simply cover up an affair with one. Murdoch knows all about this. Doubtless still humbled for the rest of his life by the News of the World phone-tapping scandal, he is happy enough with himself, his relationship with Rebekah Brooks that he can now muster enough chutzpah to sink the slipper into Peta Credlin. It can’t be Tony, his own show pony. It can’t be a man. Cherchez la femme! Peta Credlin is to blame, the old twat tweeted.
Amazingly, Rupe Le Pew’s tweets were identical with a column published by his very own Miranda Devine, one of countless hordes of News Corp hacks who fall over themselves to put the boot in when the boss goes off someone. In a pair of tweets yesterday, Murdoch channelled News Corp columnist Miranda Devine, who yesterday said it was time to get rid of Ms Credlin. Or vice versa.
“Tough to write, but if he won’t replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign,” Mr Murdoch tweeted, thumbing down Abbott’s Chief of Staff in cold blood. Many commentators will argue, of course, that the buck stops with Abbott and that the entire scapegoating of Credlin is a nasty, messy gendered business. Rupert has missed his mark. But this view underestimates the crafty old buzzard’s capacity for strategy. Whilst it pleases him to have Credlin in his sights, he knows, surely, that Abbott will never agree to stand her down and that he will not accept a Credlin resignation under such duress. Instead he must fall on his sword. Murdoch is effectively calling for Abbott’s resignation.
Thumb still smouldering, Rupe Le Pew tweeted, apparently after reflection and a single malt whisky. “Forget fairness. This change only way to recover team work and achieve so much possible for Australia. Leading involves cruel choices”.
Murdoch could be hoping cynically that Abbott, a former Rhodes Scholar would forsake his Rhodesian principles for an act of cruelty. Cecil Rhodes’ criteria, however, cover a fair bit of territory: literary and scholastic attainments; energy to use one’s talents to the fullest, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports; truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; moral force of character and instincts to lead and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.
Some of these principles governing behavior will take observers by surprise because they have been well-concealed so far by the PM but doubtless they have been internalized. Doubtless, also they point up by contrast what commended Abbott to Murdoch; what prompted him to back the then aspiring PM in the first place. Beneath the cachet of the Rhodes Scholar, Murdoch saw an unbridled pragmatism and a ruthless, if not fanatical determination and self-belief. Above all, he saw another radical conservative and a politician who would cheerfully do his bidding.
Rupert’s tweets have done all Australians an immense favour. They have shown where the power lies when it comes to Liberal governments. Such public tweaking of the strings of his puppet politician Abbott is really an enormous act of public service. Abbott must take the heat; do what Rupert wants or get out of the kitchen. Similarly the use of identical phrases in his tweets to the words used by Miranda Devine, the doyenne of his Australian tabloid press helps clarify the power relationship. Rupert rules the Liberal Party by force and very little if any finesse and is completely unafraid to put his instructions on Twitter for all to see.
We can forget all the rabid chattering about freedom and liberty in Abbott’s treatise Battlelines. We can ignore the waffle that accompanies the LNP’s latest draconian cut to social services, well-being or employment in the public service or in manufacturing. Liberal party philosophy never amounted to a hill of beans anyway. Now we can focus even more clearly on Abbott’s veneration of the power elite and the way he is programmed to do its bidding; his unalloyed loyalty to tycoonery above almost anything else.
That almost anything else includes Peta Credlin, however, and it is impossible at this stage to see Abbott, ‘letting her go’. To do so would invite another bucketing for his treatment of women. Moreover, it would further expose his own vulnerability as an antipodean Chauncey Gardiner. Besides Abbott would be lost without Peta Credlin by his side; someone to do his makeup, write his script, answer his questions in cabinet and even tell him what to wear, such as that flash bomber jacket he wore on his lightning visit to Iraq. And in the end he must accept full responsibility for making the Duke a knight. To do otherwise would reveal a damaging insight into who is really Prime Minister.