Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Janet Albrechtsen, Seat Warmers, Peter Costello, the Liberal party and the elephant in the room

I was watching Anne Graham Lotz, second daughter of Billy, the other night on the Australian Christian Channel - I told you I was loonish beyond belief - and it slowly dawned on me that she was wearing a man's jacket and a tie (see above).

Slowly, because I happen to like women wearing men's clothes. In fact I don't mind the odd jacket myself. I like the sexual ambiguity, the tension it evokes. Marlene Dietrich and all that double breasted stuff.

Now Anne was giving a nice lecture on the perils of Noah, living amongst Cain's children, an endlessly wicked bunch of artists and architects and so on, and comparing it to the perils of living in our own perilous end times. And then it dawned on me. But clearly she doesn't read the bible enough, or if, as I suspect she does, she's disinclined to follow the strict injunction in Deuteronomy - a woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the lord your god detests anyone who does this.

Sure she had a skirt on but it was almost invisible below the lectern, and anyway when you think about it, dressing half and half is even more kinky. Anne got very worked up about how after death there is always judgment for sin. Let's hope god has better fashion sense these days (vanity, all is vanity).

This doesn't have much to do with anything, except to illustrate the disconnect between what people say, what people believe and what people do. And on that level, it's an exceptionally fine way to introduce the scribblings of Janet Albrechtsen, whose wonderful use of confused transsexuals as a metaphor  is as haunting as images of Anne Graham Lotz.

Albrechtsen descends into arcane Liberal party politics in her column Liberal renewal starts with Bradfield.

It's profoundly dull, even, one suspects, for Liberal party devotees. She gives Brendan Nelson a warm send of as a 'real contributor', and it's true he contributed a lot of humbuggery, puffery and preening during his time in federal politics.

Albrechtsen spends a lot of  her word count berating seat warmers and parliamentary cruisers.

There are plenty of seat warmers on both sides of parliament, people you hear nothing from and who make very little contribution, happy in the knowledge that a sinecure has been secured. Some are old, some much younger, many often out of their depth, installed for the wrong reasons, and not particularly committed to politics as a profession to pursue ideas and improve society.

Albrechtsen nominates poor old Alan Cadman, member for Mitchell, as a prime example, but what's most interesting is the column she didn't write, about the elephant in the room none dare speak of - namely Peter Costello.

This seat warmer doesn't want to lead, doesn't want to be on the front bench, doesn't want to do anything except destabilise the party by sitting in a corner sulking, so all the concerned parents will gather around saying 'what's wrong with dear little Petie'.

Albrechtsen's column, by ignoring this reality completely, by ignoring the real source of speculation and instability in the Liberal party in the past few weeks, performs much the same act of unaware blindness as good ol' Anne Graham Lotz. 

Is it fair to judge a party by the strength, insight and vigor of its supportive commentators? If that's so, and this is the best Albrechtsen has to offer, the Liberals and their conservative values will be in the wilderness for some time to come, as they continue to brood about the lost, golden Howard years. 

Albrechtsen spends a paragraph on Howard's wonderful political principles and resilient ideas, natch, it's almost de rigeur for any columnist wanting to urge fresh directions, new vigor, and a new direction for the ailing party. But unlike the elephant in the room and the party, Janet, it has to be said. Howard's End is more than a novel. He's gone. He's long gone.

Gone, and gone for good. 

Now remind me how Peter Costello is currently helping the Liberal party, and isn't in fact a noble example of seat warming?

Which is as good a reason as any to take a look at Marlene in her golden years. Sinful dress once upon a time, now standard for fallen women and Christians:

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