October 18, 2007 | Graham

“He said.” “No he said”

It was supposed to be Kevin Rudd who would be “playing with the Prime Minister’s mind”, but it seems like the PM is doing some tinkering of his own. Yesterday’s Liberal ad targets Kevin Rudd’s positive attack ad, targetting the Liberals’ negative attack ad, with a school masterly attack on Rudd by the PM which mirrors and mocks Rudd’s own attack ad. (If this is confusing sometimes you just need to watch the real thing, so just click on the link).
To understand what is happening here you should also read my blog post of the 29th January, a quick summary of which is my suspicion that Kevin Rudd was bullied at Marist Brothers Ashgrove to the extent where he moved schools, and that he has still not gotten over it.
I remember being regularly bulied at Villanova – the Brisbane southside equivalent of Marist Brothers Ashgrove – so I can empathise with Kevin. It was hard being one of the smart kids with all the answers who wasn’t much good at football but who played one of the leads in the school musical. However, I haven’t airbrushed the school from my CV. In fact, every now and then I go back to the Old Boys Dinner, because I’ve got some affection for the place. Yet you could be forgiven for believing that Rudd never went to Marist Brothers, from all the mention of it he makes.
My take on the Rudd psychology is that he’s never learnt to deal with whatever it was that happened at Marist Brothers. It looks like someone in the Liberal campaign team agrees with that analysis.
That interpretation is bolstered by the fact that when big sister Julia Gillard was sent in to defend Kevin, she described Howard’s ad as “…something you would expect a primary school student to say in a playground spat.”
Which raises the question as to why Rudd didn’t defend himself. Howard believes that Rudd has a glass jaw, and he’s trying to hit it. Did he succeed?
The choice of Gillard as the defender is also interesting. She’s generally unpopular in the electorate, but if she has a constituency, it is most likely women between 25 and 39, one of the key swing groups, and one that is most likely to react poorly to the little blonde kid being snotted by the school yard bully.
Just as Howard won a last minute swing from Mark Latham’s physical monstering of him via an aggressive handshake in a broadcast studio, Howard runs the risk that this masculine tactic will win Rudd a sympathy vote.
The government’s answer to this risk is presumably that it is a hard world out there, and if you are going to look after Australia’s interests effectively you need to be able to muscle up to some pretty nasty players. Speech night displays of school boy Mandarin to curry favour will only take you so far. You can’t expect big sister to bail you out in real life.
All of which sets up an interesting dynamic for the leaders debate this Sunday. If Howard’s hit the mark, then expect Rudd to extend the shaky start evident in the stiffness of his speech on the announcement of the election. But it’s equally likely that Rudd could throw down the gauntlet to the PM – if you’re so tough, how about a few more debates? It’s not clear to me at this stage who’s the more effective bully.

Posted by Graham at 7:26 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Graham – this suggests that we should stop calling politics “showbiz for ugly people” and instead call it “wrestling for wimps”.

    Comment by Jason — October 18, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  2. Jason is spot on.

    Comment by Benno — October 18, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  3. Graham,
    Methinks you should leave the psychoanalysis to the Freudians.

    Comment by barney — October 19, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  4. With a window of almost 6 months to call an election (Little Johnnie/Big Ego)Howard decidesto call it at the same time as the CHOGM meeting thereby denying Australia a voice in decisions which could have an impact on us.

    Comment by Patrick Hooper — October 20, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.