You all know about The Australian’s paywall, right?
The first paragraph of the Greg Sheridan hagiography of Prime Minister Tony Abbott reads thus:
NO Australian prime minister has been quite so complex, or quite so spectacularly misunderstood, by supporters and detractors, and indeed the public, as Tony Abbott.
I implore you to read this if you haven’t already. It is an outstanding example of delusional thinking. It isn’t spin, which is calculated and deceitful linguistic manipulation employed in order to achieve a specific outcome. Sheridan is a true believer, an acolyte, a devotee, a worshipper at the altar of Abbott, and I read this piece with wonder and awe. Look:
Abbott is decisive…But decisiveness is a bit like papal infallibility. As Pope Pius IX is said to have remarked: when you are infallible, you have to be very careful of what you say.
Abbott loves to write. He loves words in the service of ideas. He is a truly gifted headline writer: stop the boats; a great big new tax on everything;
He loves soldiers, I suspect, for two main reasons. They have a culture of getting things done. And they have engaged in heroic sacrifice beyond even that which he has done himself.
It is a rich personality, as varied and complex as that of any occupant of the Lodge in our history.
Right now, Australians find him a riddle wrapped inside an enigma. After all these years, they don’t know him yet.
As Ray Charles grieves, so does Tony Abbott:
You give your hand to me
And then you say, “Hello.”
And I can hardly speak,
My heart is beating so.
And anyone can tell
You think you know me well.
Well, you don’t know me.
(no you don’t know me)
Sheridan does acknowledge some of Abbott’s faults, but to him they are only temporarily misdirected strengths and he will, if allowed to remain Prime Minister, grow out of them into full maturity.
I can truthfully say this is the first time I have ever heard the notion of the Prime Ministership as a training ground, a learning space reminiscent of Montessori or Steiner in which the incumbent is awarded the opportunity to fully realise his or her potential according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I honestly thought the position was something to do with the interests of the country and its citizens, rather than a path to personal fulfilment.
Abbott does not, according to Sheridan, hold grudges. Someone needs to tell that to Philip Ruddock before he stumbles off like a defanged Shakespearean Father of the House of Liberals, overthrown by a trusted son whose rampant ambitions would see the old man banished to the chilly outers to languish and rot, friendless and unmourned.
On reaching the end of the Sheridan piece I was reminded of a Seinfeld episode in which George observes of a mutual acquaintance, “There’s more to him than meets the eye.”
“No,” says Jerry, “there’s less.”