Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Peter Costello, Sally Warhaft, Robert Manne, The Monthly and a dash of Paul Keating for flavor

(Above: Peter Costello and Sally Warhaft on the ABC's fateful Q&A).

People, nation, the county is in crisis, the socialist Australian Labor government has just produced a budget which threatens to enslave our children in debt for eternity, or at least the twelfth of never, which is a very long time.

We're immediately crossing to Peter Costello for a pungent column on the matter, concerned with high matters of state and finance, as you'd expect from the former treasurer in the John Howard government, who did so much to save the country and give it a solid financial base, riding on the back of the mining boom, and allowing us to spend so much more time with fundie Christians as we prepared for the GFC.

Er run that title past me again, I think there's been some mistake. No, no, you're right, it's a piece on The Monthly melodrama. Brush away those moths, and let's get into it.

Remember it was only yesterday that our prattling Polonius Gerard Henderson was suggesting Costello was nowhere to be seen, while over at another newspaper a vicious soul suggested Costello was around so much in the media, he'd turn up for the opening of a door.

Well maybe not so much a door, as this column, a reheating of a tepid hash and storm in a teacup known as the Sally Warhaft affair at The Monthly, a small, overtly leftie publication as inclined to the views of the right, as Quadrant is to views from the left.

What's Costello got to offer to this aging affair, apart from very stale refried beans (I suspect he didn't even use pinto beans in the recipe)?

Well he met Sally Warhaft in March when they were both guests on the ABC program Q&A, and had a convivial time, as they were asked questions about Kevin Rudd's own pile of reheated beans, an essay about the dangers of capitalism. That's when Warhaft was asked whether she'd publish an essay from Peter Costello in reply to Rudd, and she said she didn't want to live in a one party state, and shortly thereafter she was sacked (boned, as smirking, smarmy Pete puts it, to remind us all of his feminist credentials), and so discovered she did in fact live in a one party state.

The Monthly is owned and financed by Morry Schwartz. He has done well out of the capitalist system and he uses his own money to publish the magazine. He has every right to decide what views he wants to publish. If he wants to criticise market capitalism then so be it. If he doesn't want a contrary view then so be it. It's his magazine.

Well put Peter, you've boned that issue pretty well, nothing more to be said, is there?

Wrong! For Peter has discovered an overtly lefty magazine is overtly lefty, and is therefore plainly partisan (as opposed to say Quadrant, which is baroquely partisan?)

Oh how he relishes being the cause of the difficulty, and in the process, expose their fascist socialist ways. Sure they have every right to do what they did, but they don't have any right to do what they did. Because they're intolerant, unlike Peter, who tolerates fundamental Christianity with a tolerance that is very fetching and becoming, though perhaps not when they blamed the Victorian bushfires on abortion laws.

That's why Peter so magnanimously now publishes his personal apology for his  personal part in Sally Warhaft's downfall, celebrating in his very own personal way some weeks after everybody else had decided the storm in the teacup had run its course, and issues of some moment - like the buddget - might now be pursued.

Not for Peter Costello, it seems. He worries at the bone of The Monthly like an aging terrier forced to use his gums. How dare they refuse to publish him because he's Peter Costello.

Plainly his magazine is not open to both sides of debate. It is a partisan monthly. I have plenty of other opportunities to publish, so it's no skin off my nose to be blackballed by Schwartz and the chairman of the editorial board, Robert Manne. They own the press. They control it.

Oh that's right they plainly do. So it's no skin off Costello's nose that they're intolerant and don't like him, is it? Well perhaps, but why not shed some crocodile tears about Warhaft's dilemma, which when you come to think about it, is an idle one, since if everybody were to be held to joking commitments made on air, then the world would quickly slide into an abyss.

It seems that for some reason she felt a need to publish Costello, when his lightweight musings are freely available on a weekly basis in the Fairfax rags, usually with the substance and depth of an assault and battery by feathers. And then found out she didn't control the fiefdom. Which given the tone of Costello - his usual gummy smirking sarcasm was well on view in the Q&A - is understandable  when contemplating contributors to a lefty magazine. (That Q&A is still available at time of writing, if you like Chinese water torture, here).

But what does this matter when all's said and done? Editors come and editors go. Just ask the lads and lasses at work in Rupert Murdoch's empire. But it seems socialists at work in the free enterprise system must go through the kind of unfair dismissal proceedings howled down by the commentariat as making things too tough for small business by the Labor government.

What we're now left with are the musings of a preening narcissist.

Or is it just that Peter Costello is still pissed off by Robert Manne, and can't resist plunging in the knife one more time?

In 1982 Manne edited The New Conservatism In Australia. This was not a book bemoaning conservatism in Australia. It was one extolling it. Manne wrote in the introduction "much of the more original and interesting social and political criticism in Australia seemed to come from those whom I regarded as being, in one way or another, on the political 'right'."

To be fair to him, when he wrote that he was going through a conservative phase. As he explains in his book Left Right Left he has now shifted back again the other way.

To be fair to him? Fair? That word drips from Costello's lips like a shark offering  a tasty tuna a fair sprint in a fifty metre dash. Yum, sushi time.

Well to be fair to Costello, let's see how he wraps up his column.

But it might still be true that there is interesting social and political criticism on the conservative side. You'll never know if you don't hear it. The ABC is big enough to air alternative opinions on Q&A. Strip out the alternative views on it, you are left with an electronic edition of The Monthly.

That's it, that's all there is?

But Petie boy, we hear from the conservative side all the time, and we hear from you way too much on trivial issues while you sit on the sidelines and bemoan the fate of Australia like a sanctimonious prat, and poor Malcolm is left up shit creek without a decent paddle to his name.

Put it another way. The Fairfax mean machine is big enough to air your alternative opinions on any number of storms in teacups, surely it's time to test them by handing in your essay demolishing Rudd's essay and displaying your fine grasp of political theory. But it's too long you protest. You'll need seven thousand words. 

Well they could run it in gobbets over time, like The Epoch Times publication of its commentary on the evils of the Chinese government. Or if Fairfax won't do it, hand it over to your old chums at Quadrant, and let them show up Chairman Rudd, courtesy your wise words.

But if you can't put up, why not just shut up? Or at least resist stating the obvious, because we can all do that for you. How's this?

The ABC is big enough to air alternative opinions on Q&A. Strip out the alternative views on it, you are left with an electronic edition of Quadrant.

See, anyone can do fatuous stupidity, but I guess you do take it to a higher art form, and it's constantly fascinating to watch, wondering whether you will fall off the high wire, or stand for preslection for Higgins, and finally find the guts to have a go at the leadership. Or are you a nong and a mouse and a slow acting dope? You know I just love re-frying old beans:

The thing about poor old Costello, he's all tip and no iceberg … he's been treasurer for 11 years, the old coconut's still sitting there, Araldited to the seat, and, you know, the Treasurer works on the smart quips, but when it comes to staring down the Prime Minister in his office, he always leaves disappointed … he never gets the sword out.

Paul Keating.

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

(Below: and a jolly time was had by all, with host Tony Jones on the right).


Adam said...

Is the US spelling of flavour in the title of this 'file' a clever joke that's gone over my head or am I just having a Hendo moment?

I had an overtly leftie moment last year and subscribed to the Monthly and, while there is the odd nicely written article, I'm struggling to find anything worth reading. I printed off Kev's big essay on the GFC but couldn't muster the enthusiasm to actually read it.

Dorothy, the budget was only released last night and I'm already sick to the stomach with every sound bite of Jolly Joe Hockey. I'd completely forgotten he was shadow Treasurer and the Labor mob must be as happy as Larry that the self-righteous bag of lard takes some attention away from what may or may not be a sub-standard budget.

Two comments in two days. I guess I may or may not be stalking this blog.

dorothy parker said...

Sadly I'm in the grip of an imperialist colonial American spell-checker. A few times I fight it, but then sometimes feeling off color, I give up, like the Australian Labor party, and remember everything is just krispy kreme icandy. So many zees and so little time.

Or like leftie or lefty, endless indecisions and revisions, but hey join my campaign for Australia to become a state of the USA, rather than just stay a province.

As for the Monthly, you're braver than me, as I can't abide anything with ideology as the telescope through which to view life, as it usually involves the wrong end. Just as I'm immune to Kev's charms, except in proportion to the frenzy he can arouse in right wingers like Janet Albrechtsen and Piers Akerman. Surely no point in reading him when you can enjoy the squawking of the loons flapping in fear of socialism.

Meanwhile, grit your teeth on Jolly Joe. So long as he remains shadow treasurer, Birnam Wood will not come to Canberra, nor none of woman born rule this fair land.

Oh and stalk away, herding the cats requires huge, integral amounts of stalking, and damn'd be him that first cries hold, enough. Now I know it's like bashing tape worms, a joke that had my partner howling in the shower (luckily with laughter).