QED

The Tracks of His Tears

On a recent Bolt Report, discussing Bill Shorten’s teary response to a Daily Telegraph article concerning the career of his mother, Andrew Bolt and David Speers seemed to agree that, finally, we might have seen ‘the real’ Bill Shorten. It’s a curious idea, this one – the notion that an angry or emotional politician is revealing his or her true character. Ah, but is it true?  Let’s look at a few examples.

The first to mind is Tony Abbott.  The ‘real’ Tony Abbott has been on display every day of his long political career. You may not like him but you cannot claim he conceals his true, essentially decent, persona. Ditto John Howard.  Ditto Scott Morrison.

On the other side of the coin, the same is true of Malcolm Turnbull – his self-interest, arrogance and propensity for treachery have always been evident — mainly, I’m guessing, because Turnbull considered it beneath him to conceal characteristics others might seek to hide about themselves. Ditto Paul Keating.  Each the smartest in any room, at least by their own estimation, and therefore not subject to the same rules applied to lesser specimens of humanity. With Bob Hawke, what you saw was what you got. Various  attempts were made to depict ‘the real’ Julia Gillard, but they came to nothing because the “real Julia” was, in fact, the that everyone saw everyday of her public life, right down to the whining victimhood.

Is it possible for someone as much in the public eye as a prime minister or opposition leader to be anything other than what the public sees? I think not. Kevin Rudd, at least for a short while, might have been the exception that proves the rule.  Bill Shorten is decidedly not.  What we have seen for more than a decade is the real Bill Shorten.  Shifty, deceptive, cynical, self -serving and treacherous, as both Rudd and Gillard can attest.  Oh, and let’s not forget the workers from Cleanevent and Chiquita Mushrooms.

A display of emotion does not, of itself, confer any particular virtue. I daresay even Stalin is said to have been moved to tears on occasion, purportedly by the final scene of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. Which brings me to the Telegraph story.  It was not the Telegraph that used Shorten’s mother to attack him, as Tanya Plibersek, et al, disingenuously claimed. It was Shorten himself who recruited his mother to prop up a spurious class-warfare campaign and burnish his dubious credentials as a champion of the working class.

Ann Shorten seems to have been a remarkable woman (the books she authored and co-authored are listed above), but she could hardly be described as the victim of an unfair society — a society, moreover, that has advanced considerably since her time. That her legal career, as a woman in her 50s, was not stellar, as Shorten responded, is not the point.  Would she think of herself as a victim, I wonder?  Would she have thanked her son for casting her in that role?  Her career as a teacher and historian, and her achievements as a mother, would suggest not.

Shorten’s emotion may have been genuine but it might just as easily be dismissed as yet another example of his overweening cynicism.

Either way it does not ameliorate the lies that have characterised the conduct of his public campaigns. Remember the Mediscare campaign of 2016? This time round we have had the Coalition government “cutting” funds for health when Treasury stats show a steady increase since 2013.  This time around we have had the franking credit “gift” for millionaires” who have paid no tax. This time around we have “bloated property investors” accumulating dozens of rental properties just so they can record losses and avoid paying tax.

And, last but by no means least, this time around we have the daddy of them all:  Shorten’s climate change policy, which dare not speak its cost.  The sheer arrogance and contempt that Shorten has displayed with his “how can you discuss the cost of real action on climate change without also discussing the cost of doing nothing” meme plunges deeper than any nadir he has previously plumbed.

No, Andrew and David, ignore Wednesday’s waterworks and re-animate your perceptions of Bill Shorten, chameleon and charlatan. You were right all along.

13 comments
  • ianl

    There was a comment somewhere, which I have no hope of tracing now, that Shorten had been told in advance of the Daily Tele story. If so, someone in the paper’s circle (perhaps the printers) leaked it to his staff.
    This gave him time to prepare his public response.

  • deric davidson

    We are not voting for Shorten’s mum to be PM we are voting (as a consequence of the election) for Bill Shorten to be PM. This is a man who’s past and present seems to be full of deception and dishonesty. Regardless of the person however we should be voting on the basis of policies and those of the Labor Party ‘stink’ and are dangerous for the economy. This should be our main concern, not whether Shorten cries when he thinks of his mum.

  • sabena

    Shorten can’t say that his mother achieved her qualifications on her own-that exposes the falsity of the victim narrative which requires the government to provide support

  • Salome

    Back in the day, the teaching studentship was very generous, came with guaranteed employment following graduation, and was the route to university and entry into the professions taken by many first generation undergraduates. At the same time, entry to the legal profession could be obtained without going to university, but by becoming articled and undertaking studies at RMIT over a period of about 5 years. (But articles probably didn’t pay as well as a teaching studentship.) These were not examples or causes of equality, but means of overcoming it, neither of which is available today. I really can’t see what Shorten is complaining about.

  • Jody

    The Labor Party NEEDS to draw in family lore as part of the heroic, victim mythology of its members and their families. It plays a major part of class warfare – those dreadful capitalists spoiling our life opportunities because we had no money. Ergo, they must navigate the grey edges of reality in their sob-stories and others can easily see the falsehood. Rudd in his car, Gillard’s father who couldn’t get an education…on and on it goes. And, no mention of John Howard exploiting his father’s service station or Morrison his lower middle class background for sob-stories and log-cabin mythologies.

    These Labor creeps deserve what they get.

  • en passant

    Peter,
    Wasn’t Shorten educated at an expensive fee-paying school only reserved for those of sufficient income from the ‘big end of town? One day I am going to search for this El Dorado …

  • Guido Negraszus

    I agree. Andrew Bolt is my favourite commentator on TV. I watch his show every day BUT every now and then I think he is so easily fooled by people like Shorten. Shorten’s response was an act as is almost everything about this guy. God help us all if he becomes PM. I predict that we will miss Gillard after a while and I cant believe I’m writing this…!

  • Doubting Thomas

    With a straight face, Paul Kelly tells us in today’s Oz that Shorten and the ALP are ready to govern. Now, there’s a scoop. There has never been a time in my longish life when the ALP has not been “ready” to govern, just as there has never been a time when Paul Kelly has not put his credibility on the line to give them a leg up.

    As now, it’s rarely been fit to govern, and Shorten is no Hawke.

  • Necessityofchoice

    After selling his own union members down the river for a handful of silver, this mountebank is en route to do the same to the whole of Australia. Why, oh why, is moral integrity so hard to come by ?

  • norsaint

    Didn’t impostor Bill have a father or doesn’t that fit the feminist/sacred cow narrative?

  • Alice Thermopolis

    “Crime is commonplace”, I remember Holme-Truth saying years ago. He was standing in front of the fire smoking his pipe, one elbow on the mantelpiece. “But nothing is as commonplace as a three-card trick in the corridors of power.”
    “Parliament, alas, has become a great Green cesspool into which all the loungers and RE rent-seekers of the nation are irresistibly drained.”
    “Yet politics should be an exact science, a cold and unemotional profession, like detection. Instead of precise calculations, however, its practitioners serve us a dog’s breakfast of bile and bravado and now tears, while hiding behind “projections” that are about as accurate as a Roman haruspex on a good day. It’s a grotesque business.”
    “But if we are nimble, Watson, Sir William Short-Shrift can be caught in the act, in flagrante delicto. For the proverb says: as a dog returns to his vomit after eating too much Pie in the Sky, so a fool repeats his folly.”
    Question for the Opposition Leader and the PM: “How many climate fibs does it take to change a government?”
    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2015/08/baker-street-highly-irregulars/

  • Lawriewal

    I seem to recall Gillard did the same crying bit about her daddy.
    All “meeja” critical comment stopped immediately as the journos (like Bolt) tried to outdo each other in a sickening bid to show greater empathy with this poor orphan girl just trying to be a good PM hellbent on not introducing a carbon tax in any government she led.

  • Jody

    Doubting Thomas: do not lose sight of the fact that, with that same straight face, Paul Kelly supported Kevin Rudd and said he was ready to govern. And he predicted a loss for Trump.

    The past tells us lots about people, not just Bill Shorten.

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