Monday, December 04, 2006
And the winner is...
(c) The Age
... the Boy from Brisbane, as anyone with the slightest nose for the electoral winds would have predicted. Of course, one would have backed the rookie this time three years ago on the same basis, and we all know how that experiment panned out. Coming a week-plus after the Baillieu flameout, I'm getting queasy from the deja-vu.
Watching Rudd on tonight's 7:30 Report, it was the man's presentational flaws that came across first. He lets his intellect block his personality and has a habit of dodging questions with policy statements, important though those may be. And for a guy who did unscripted theatre, his lines seem awfully rehearsed. But the more I listen to him and read about him, the more substance I find to this maverick in Australian politics - a man who chose a different party from his parents and has some experience of the outside world.
I was annoyed to see Kerry O'Brien stoop to the harping on Rudd's perceived nerdiness. It's a patronising attitude towards Australian voters, who it's assumed won't elect an otherwise qualified man simply because he lacks rugby shoulders or isn't seen at the cricket. What I see is a hard-headed social democrat with a career outside the Labor Party and a truer foreign policy lodestone than anyone on the other side of the House, including the incumbent minister. In short, just what the country needs right now.
He still has to be a leader, though. Rudd's talking tough - in his clipped intellectual fashion - but one needs more than talk to handle a government that fights bare-knuckle and a caucus stuffed with factional prima donnas. He'll have to break some bones if he's going to be more than Latham with a nice disposition and some years in the diplomatic corp.
For Kim Beazley, learning of his brother's death after being dumped by the party he served for 26 years, it's been what the media has with trademark sensitivity dubbed Black Monday. Condolences, Kim. I think it was the right outcome, but still a darned hard way to go.