A version of this piece was first published in the Sun Herald today.
“Let’s keep Australia in safe hands.” John Howard’s “son of Menzies” video at his 30 years in politics bash launched the theme, apparently his key election message to voters.
Maybe he’s in a world mere citizens can’t access, for the previous night, at another laudatory dinner of the right, he completely changed his mind on why Australia had to stay in Iraq.
“The reality is that international terrorism has invested an enormous amount in breaking the will of the coalition in Iraq,” he said. “Not only are organisations associated with al-Qaeda operating in Iraq but each and every turn of the Iraq struggle is interpreted by spokesmen for international terrorism as part of the ongoing campaign against the US and her allies.”
Does he think we don’t remember his recent slash at the Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty for daring to suggest we were a greater terrorist target for invading Iraq? “It’s my view that Iraq is really irrelevant to the intent and the purposes of al-Qaeda,” he said then.
Howard even said we were on the side of the Iraqi people, when most Iraqis want the US out NOW! He’s spun himself so tight to maintain unconditional support for all that President Bush and his team of incompetents and madmen have done and will do that he makes sense to no one.
Safe hands? I don’t think so.
Web diarist Antonia Feitz sent me this headline from The Independent in London: Howard’s message to Blair: Time to stand up to Bush.
“Alas, Margo, it was Blair’s political opponent, not OUR Howard. But didn’t it make your heart race, briefly?”
Conservative Michael Howard leads a party which backed the war but is increasingly despairing at the self-destructive behaviour of Bush’s boys.
“My party’s support for the war does not mean we are disqualified from asking legitimate questions about the conduct of events in Iraq now,” the other Howard said.
“Nor does it mean we should be inhibited from criticising. And to suggest, as Mr Blair sometimes does, that any such criticism involves a failure to ‘support our troops’ is to demean the very democracy of which we are so proud.”
Last week OUR Howard praised his MPs for “putting their personal beliefs aside” on the wisdom of Iraq to shut up and nod.
Last week the Americans disowned Ahmad Chalabi, the man they flew to Iraq with his armed militia to be its puppet leader, and raided his home in the belief he was leaking intelligence to Iran (Agency: Chalabi group was front for Iran and The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi).
Chalabi ran the US Government-funded Iraqi exile group which gave Bush’s neo-conservatives bogus evidence of WMDs. It was revealed last week that the fake evidence of a Chalabi “defector” used by Bush to justify war, already had been dismissed after the man failed a CIA lie detector test (Source behind WMD claims failed lie test). The Prime Minister has never protested about the lies Bush told Australia or his unforgivable failure to plan for the peace, and he never will.
I reckon Howard’s tragic failure of leadership on Iraq underlies his failure to get a boost from his budget of cynical bribes to the swingers he needs in his marginal seats to win again, leaving those he doesn’t need to get no tax relief at all.
I reckon Australians have worked out that this bloke is dangerous and blind to the challenges facing us, particularly on global warming, the oil supply crisis, and the collapse of public education and health.
Last week former Liberal Party president John Valder, a former friend of Howard’s and a fervent anti-war campaigner, suggested Howard could be in danger in his own seat, perhaps to the man who blew the whistle on his lies before the war, Andrew Wilkie.
I received this email from Michelle Wright, who lives in Peter Costello’s Melbourne seat and was stirred to action by an interview she heard with Brian Deegan, who lost a child in the Bali bombing and will stand as an independent against foreign minister Alexander Downer in his Adelaide seat of Mayo:
“He spoke of his feeling of impotence and disappointment in the face of this Government’s lies and deceit. He spoke of his determination to make this country better for his children. I offered my support in an email. He phoned to thank me and I once again pledged to support him.
“Oke doke – now what do I do? I have never been politically active (nor has he, I understand). Trust my instincts and start writing letters like this. This is as grass roots as it gets. Political virgins coming together and finding a voice – I am already feeling more empowered and confident.
“Alexander Downer, you did not go to war in my name. I will do whatever it takes for you to hear my voice. I believe that this will be the most effective use of my limited financial and human resources.”
Perhaps Deegan’s campaign slogan could be “Let’s put Australia in safer hands”.
Reader quote of the week
Grant Long in Newcastle
“And now, Mr Howard’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ speech. Iraq is the front line on the war on terror, we stupid, ignorant plebs are told by our humble leader. The frame and foundations of modern governance are rotten and barely supporting the structure, but the facade looks good. An illusion.”