All those years he kept Peter Costello out of power, it was because we thought Howard was a control freak egomaniac determined to make his deputy suffer while Howard rode to glory on his shoulders. But he was actually being a man of steel and for that he has our gratitude.
How little we knew. How deeply we failed to understand that Costello was in fact a barking mad Christian, a raving loon that should never be allowed to leave the pond.
Whenever Howard dallied with fundamentalist Christians, you got the feeling he didn't really believe - like a true Machiavellian, he'd leave no stone unturned, and cynically dog whistle to whichever barking mad dogs in the vicinity he saw holding a vote in the paw. But it seems Costello actually believes what he says, though it's hard to actually decipher what Costello the incoherent might actually think, as opposed to mumble in a metaphysically deluded way.
By now of course it's old news, the way Costello made his video dedicated to the Catch the Fire Christian ministries as an Australia Day Message. Inevitably it turned up on You Tube, and inevitably people rushed to read the print release issued by the rapt Christians. If you want to catch up on the full smarmy pompous smirking message, go here. (Last time I looked it was still up). If you want to catch up on the full flavored nuttiness of Catch The Fire Ministries, go here (you can also connect to a transcript of Costello's Message via this page).
Catch the Fire, and Pastor Danny have a wonderful range of products, an anti-racial hatred disclaimer, and a wonderful section dedicated to Prophecies and Testimony, where the cawing and the clamoring of the loons is truly marvelous to behold . (Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn, and God feedeth them how much more are ye better than the fowls?)
There's so much tosh in the actual Costello Message that it's too depressing to relate here in full, but if you want to understand how narrowly Australia escaped being governed by an incoherent, rambling zealot, you should hunt it out.
What's more interesting is Pastor Danny (and his faithful flock) to whom Costello addressed his jeremiad. Pastor Danny is a full on fruitcake when it comes to his beliefs,as are his devoted followers. The good reverend Danny takes a particular view on Islamics, having lived and ministered in Saudi Arabia, only forty minutes from Mecca, "where we were most miraculously kept and protected from being captured and executed for preaching the word of God."
Here you must understand that his God is a pretty exclusive and jealous god:
Many Christians around the world believe that 'Allah' of the Muslims is the 'God the Father' we serve. I must advise that this is not correct. Allah is a common term for any god in Arabic. However, the Allah (God) we serve as Christians is not the Allah Muslims serve.
... God very clearly tells us in His word, "That no man can come to the Father unless through Jesus Christ, His Son" - so how can we afford to pray together with those who do not believe in the Son? ... Come on men & women who know God, don't compromise in order to maintain your reputation. Stand up for what you believe. If not, we lose the Christian heritage of our homeland of Australia.
Okay that's all fair enough for a fundamentalist Christian loon. Christ is the only way, spurn the Muslims, fight the Crusades for another thousand years - what a pity they didn't do the job in the middle ages - remember the Jews actually killed Christ, yadda yadda, and so on all the way to the final rapture and hellfire.
What's funny is how Costello regurgitated the some of the same kind of claptrap talking points - if we aren't all good Christians, "then the very basis of our society and its order will be threatened. That's why we need Christian people to pray for our country." (Never mind that much western law is descended from Roman law established long before Christ, something you'd expect a lawyer to know).
What's that I hear in the background? Is it that wascally wabbit Bugs Bunny humming the 'Looney Tunes' theme? And is Peter Costello doing his best to be the new age Elmer Fudd as he slags off Islamics, Jews, secularists and anybody else who doesn't pray for the the good of the country, only obtainable courtesy of his Christian god?
Of course it's the sort of thing you'd expect a right wing writer of columns to seize on, conjuring up the dangers of religion and praising the virtue of having a secular Australia, and damning the folly of politicians like Costello who cultivate extremists of any hue, whether they be Islamic or fundamentalist Christian.
But when you look around, three long days after Costello imitated the Queen with his own Oorstralia Day message - plenty of time to whip up a column or run a line or two in a blog - what do we find? That's right, nada, zilch, zippo, nothing, nihil. Guess that means there's a lot of right wing nihilists around.
You'd hope for something from the fat owl of the remove, since Piers Akerman is now something of a Renaissance man, dedicated to free speech, convinced the Catholic church was profoundly wrong in its persecution of Galileo, dedicated to the idea that advances are wrung out of harsh dialectical intellectual controversy (see his stout attack on Islamics only a few days ago and the threat they pose to the world of artistic intellectual and scientific ideas, especially for the Dutch). But sorry, all is silence in the tabloid Terror, not even a mouse stirring.
What about Tim Blair? The feckless gadfly is always up for a bit of pricking of preening pompous prats. Well no, just the usual, a lashing at Al Gore and John Kerry and global warming. You have to admire Blair for monomaniacal incapacity when it comes to looking at things with an even hand. If they hadn't invented blinkers for horses, they would have had to invent them for Blair - he simply couldn't manage with an eye patch over the left eye. Never mind, Christ will save us, won't he Tim? And Peter Costello is so much more sensible than Al Gore.
Nothing in The Age, which likes to publish prattling Jim Wallace, especially when he's on about how bad it is for developing countries to allow women to control their bodies and have abortions, because that's killing, unlike having a just war where you're licensed to kill as many people as you can find in front of your hi tech sights.
And over at The Australian, things are all quiet on the Costello front. Just a bit of standard Rudd bashing and Imre Salusinszky doing a routine dissection of NSW Labor.
But isn't this some kind of news, this Australia Day folly? Doesn't it look certain that Costello will never lead the Liberal party and never ascend to the ultimate secular throne, and be able to star in his own long running Yes Prime Minister series?
Sorry, instead of the new Messiah - and touted so all last year - it seems Peter is just a very naughty boy. The world moves on and so all Peter now has to dream about is his ascent to heaven for all his good works as Treasurer, somehow allowed to be unpicked by god in his infinite wisdom.
Dear lord, how could you allow that evil Ruddster to ascend to my rightful throne, why didn't you smite him mightily? (but then who are we to try to fathom the ways of god, even if you pray really really hard and for a really really long time. But somehow that prayer works, though maybe not under Rudd, because his god is unlikely to be the same god as Peter's god).
Anyhoo, that's why we felt the need - in a blog dedicated to a choice band of loony right wing columnists - a solemn conclave, a brave heart band of brothers - to invent a special guest category for Peter Costello and his wonderful Australia Day Message. St Peter, before you hear the thrice times crowing of the cock, you are hereby certified Champion Australian Christian Loon, with ribbon.
Funnily enough, what should turn up on my Google page as the quote of the day, but Steven Weinberg, US physicist in The New York Times, April 20, 1999: "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion".