Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gerard Henderson, Polonius, Obama, and the blinkered right

Ever since Gerard Henderson became self-appointed advisor to princes and potentates, it's been hard not to think of him as an antipodean Polonius.

His advice has been as useful as that Polonius delivered to Hamlet - after all, telling Prince Harry to lay off Nazi uniforms, and to watch his language, even when playing jolly japes amongst chums, is really stating the bleeding obvious.

But like Polonius, Henderson tends not to follow his own advice - it's a pity he can't remember those lines about brevity being the soul of wit. Instead he tends towards tediousness in the limbs and outward flourishes, and rarely is content to be brief. (You could also imagine Polonius explaining at great length his participation in the 2020 conference as a noble example of his public participation in a tiresome frolic, for which he had little personal stomach but a strong sense of public duty - but that's another story).

So what does our prating Polonius offer Barack Obama on his elevation to the top job? You can, if you have a strong and anti-depressive stomach, go here to Can-do guy with all the safe moves.

And as you've probably guessed, it's more of what the tiresome right seems to want to insist - that Obama is really only George Bush done out in black face, a bit like a new Al Jolson, come to dance to the same tunes as his real policy master.

It seems Obama is going to toe the line on Israel and the middle east, it seems Obama isn't going to do anything much about Guantanamo, and it seems likely he's also going to be a new Tony Blair - a ripe victim for the likes of Private Eye (even though Henderson hastens to assure us that Blair has had an exceptionally hard and at times unfair press, because he too was a visionary that just wanted to be George W. Bush in a fancy English frock).

Then comes a predictable comparison to Kevin Rudd, who it seems is not a charismatic leader, who has introduced some "essentially symbolic change", but who has, as expected, turned into a pale copy of that visionary master John Howard, upsetting his 'own yes-we-can supporters' by not doing the right thing regarding the intervention in the NT, or introducing a carbon reduction scheme or winding back Work Choices enough. 

Why even though Howard was too tough on administering the mandatory detention scheme (what Howard is flawed, Howard erred, say it ain't so Gerard), it seems Rudd is just a faithful follower in mandatory detention.

All this goes to show that the world is essentially right wing, willing followers of Polonius and his ilk. Only the naive think otherwise (and probably like cafe lattes). Only the naive believe that democratic government is easy and that change can invariably be implemented without consequences. 

Alternatively only the naive listen to grinches like Henderson and believe that they're naive. Only the naive think that 'yes we can' always and inevitably turns into 'but not just yet'. 

What a sourpuss, dour view of the world our prating Polonius has. How sad that the best he can offer on the arrival of Obama in government is this capper to his column: "Obama's long-term success will turn on his ability to persuade Americans that government is more difficult than a lot of people realise".

Actually Polonius a lot of people realise that government is difficult. They've seen George W. Bush and his team comprehensively fuck it up for eight years, and now they're seeking shelter from the storm. Sure an umbrella or two will get blown away, but a few things will change, and we'll all settle for small mercies. 

It's a measure of just how fearful people are of a world gone wrong - economies blown away in homage to the greed of the rich and the need to fuel foreign adventurism - that they've placed such hope in one man. Even if it's mis-placed, this forlorn hope, this desperate optimism, there's one thing certain - the siren song of Republican stupidity now sounds decidedly off-key.

But there's also another certainty - we'll always have a Hanrahan or two around singing songs about how times are tough and we all need to be lashed to the post and given a lashing to make sure we toe the right wing view of the world. You know how it goes Gerard:

'"There'll be Obama-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Henderson,
"Before the year is out."'

And the sad thing is, Henderson will never take off the blinkers and be able to see a different view of the world, as he harps and carps his way to the grave. I guess in the end that it comes down to this - would you rather be a self-doubting tortured Hamlet given to great philosophical insights, or a smug, tedious Polonius, given that one way or another you end up behind the arras dead as a rat, or at the end of a poisoned sword tip? 

Your choice.

Meanwhile, over at the Daily Terror, Piers Akerman, our sturdy fat owl in the remove, sings from exactly the same song sheet in Time for reality not just rhetoric from Obama. Do these turkeys exchange crib notes before they write up their columns? Do they ever wonder how this kind of group think kind of writing, like bees in the one hive, undermines all the nonsensical musings they expend on the virtues of individualism up against the perils of collectivism?

Piers does have something special to contribute: "Democrats believe in Fantasyland and magic, Republicans prefer something more tangible". You see, the current economic mess is all due Democrat lawmakers, and the Clintons. 

Nothing to do with the Shrub, nothing at all, think that and you're in cloud cuckoo land. The war in Iraq? Solid move. The mess in Afghanistan? Obama will get stuck in the mud there, but he has to. The economy? All the fault of greedy poor people who should learn to sleep in the streets. (Why I was up at factory at 4 am with spoon of gruel to work all night till 4 am, get up and start day again).

So best Obama get out that Kiwi boot polish and turn himself into George W. licketty split. And Piers gets paid to write this stuff, well enough to afford a good lunch and a glass of chardonnay. Tell me the world isn't totally stuffed.

But at least he allows himself a grace note. "Tomorrow's ceremony is about hope for the future. And we might permit ourselves to dream an improbable dream of an impossible perfect world, at least for the duration of the inauguration ceremony." What a soursob grace note, fat owl.

Right enough, then we'll be back to listening to prating prats prattling on about the wonders of George W. and the follies of the Democrats. Here's how it will go:

'"We'll all be rooned," said Ackerman,
In accents most folorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

"If we don't get a Bush back, man,
Jeb Bush is the man to break this drought.
We'll all be rooned," said Akerman,
"Before the year is out."'

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