Apr 1, 2010

Save a space in the sepulchre, Abbott is 85% over

Let's face it, Tony Abbott is 85% over, and ever

Guy Rundle


Let’s face it, Tony Abbott is 85% over, and everyone knows it. In the space of four months he has spectacularly, almost deliberately, sought to take the public’s willingness to give him a chance and consider him with an open mind – and turned the process into a narcissistic, undisciplined test of love.

He had three strikes, and he’s used them up with alarming profligacy. The first was the appointment of Barnaby Joyce to the finance ministry, the department most in need of cool rationality.

The second was the health care debate failure, in which he called Kevin out and then lost for easily avoidable reasons – lack of preparation, failure to develop a skeleton alternative policy that could be used as a positive message.

The third strike was….

accumulated concerns about character,  from the Mullah Omar-style concern with his daughters’ virginity, to his obsession with a hard-core fitness regime.

Crikey, it must be said, was the first to predict that Abbott’s oddness would become a key factor.  In early December, a few days after his elevation we noted:

“[Vanquishing Abbott] shouldn’t be too hard, if Labor maintains a positive message about modernity, hope and possibility, and what a weird little creep Abbott ultimately is, rather than a fear campaign about what he might do. They may be helped in that by the fact that… Abbott, like fast Eddy Felsen in The Hustler, like Guy Crouchback, has a deep and original desire to fail nobly, to be spared the burden of success. Labor has to find that desire and bring it to the surface, and Abbott will do the rest.”

This was not the view at the time, especially in the News Ltd propaganda machine, where Arthur Sinodos waxed ecstatically:

“TONY Abbott is the Spartacus of Australian politics. No longer content to be slaves in Kevin Rudd’s victory procession, the Liberal heartland has found its Spartacus and revolted. Most Liberals feel energised by the leadership change and dare to dream of winning the next election. So far the polls have not moved but that gives Abbott plenty of runway.
Abbott is not predictable and will deliver plenty of light and shade. One minute he will be ridiculing the Prime Minister and all his works. Next minute he will flick the switch to serious thinker….”

While Planet Janet developed a tilt in her orbit:

“there is no point avoiding the other thing that differentiates Abbott. Fit and50-something, the runner, cyclist and former boxer in a pair of Speedos with a “love rug” is also a rarity in politics. On that note, I’m counting on more than a few women agreeing with Nigella Lawson, the curvy kitchen guru, who said: “I like an animal. Hairy back, hair everywhere. I don’t understand why a woman would want a hairless man. If I was to go for smooth, I may as well be lesbian.” Be honest, girls. Abbott has caught your attention in a way that Rudd never did. Or will. Whether that translates into votes for Abbott is another matter. But watch that space too.”

On the disastrous employment of Barnaby Joyce, a finance minister who wanted to ban China, break up banks, and employed the term ‘usury’ we noted:

So Abbott has a big problem — trying for a gonzo, wild-west shadow cabinet, he’s allowed the League of Rights their greatest entryist triumph to date, even though Joyce isn’t a member of that group (or so we presume). Given what he’s said two weeks in, it seems unlikely that he’ll stop now. His belief in the things he talks about, and his conviction that he is representing the people from which he comes — both go far deeper than his affiliation to the National Party, much less the coalition.

Abbott will have to sack him eventually, which will seriously damage his leadership credentials, and the longer he keeps him in the centre of the shadow Cabinet, the more damage he can do to any sort of consistent message. Joyce’s elevation was an unbelievable screw-up, another gift to Labor from a leader whose neurological capacity for risk assessment has probably been damaged by his sustained endorphin addiction. If Abbott was lost in golden slumbers from his runner’s high, you can bet he’s awake and listening now.”

Meanwhile, the Oz editorialised:

“Tony Abbott has made a good start with his front bench
IT’S early days, but Tony Abbott is showing himself to be a disciplined and alert leader. Now he needs his front bench to follow suit. His shadow cabinet announced yesterday contains some real talent…”

While Surry Hills prize stooge Malcolm Colless noted:

“THE Rudd government is clearly determined to create a media image of the opposition’s finance spokesman, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce, as totally compromised in his new frontbench role, the economic village idiot or a combination of both.
Unfortunately for Labor this spin isn’t working. In fact there are signs of growing public concern at the bully-boy tactics that Rudd and his cabinet colleagues have used to demonise anyone who dares to criticise the Prime Minister’s policies…”

Now Abbott has sacked Joyce, using the cover of a reshuffle, and probably saved himself more trouble ahead, at the expense of looking incompetent earlier. But can he recover from the double whammy of policy failure and character concern?

The question is the answer. The public tend to forgive one, but not both. With Abbott, the two are intertwined. He lost a debate he’d called Rudd out on, and then he went on an all-day endurance ride. You could call that physical toughness, but it looks like self-indulgence.

The public has come to the conclusion that Abbott does not possess the virtue that he himself knows he is deficient in – that of continence. It’s what steered him away from the priesthood (in part), and it’s what rings alarm bells in the public now.

It’s particulalry bad for a conservative leader, because conservatism as a political formation is defined by a set of virtues to which continence is central.

The core of conservatism, after all, is the notion that being, the objective world, can never be fully grasped by knowing, our subjective existence. Hence we pursue prudent and judicious stewardship by casting a cold eye on ‘triumph and disaster – and treat(ing) those two impostrs just the same’. Conservatism is as much a way of doing things as it is a set of discrete ideas about institutions and structures. The content of conservatism – a belief in the family as in some sense more important than the individual citizen – matches the form of conservatism, which suggests that we should think twice, three times before we mess with anything, and that in all our conduct we should take the aristotelian middle way.

Abbott’s particular genius/anti-genius has been to advance Conservative content in a manner – audacity, programmativity – usually associated with the left. The consequence is a programme one might call ‘ reactionary social engineering’ – steering your politics by a fixed idea of the social good, and employing highly statist moves to ensure it.

Paid parental leave is a good example of that. I support the idea absolutely – though in the Nordic fashion by which the number of days attaches to the child in question, not the parent, and the allotment can thus be shared out around 1,2 or 3 parents/carers – but coming from a right that has emphasised the family as a private sphere of action, within a market-state built on personal responsibility, it is plainly reconstructive, not conservative. It has a specific idea of how society should be, rather than cutting with the grain of what is, which would dictate a more piecemeal and gradual conservative approach.

So not much prudence or continence there, and coupled with the policy gap in health care, Abbott gives the impression to the public of a man wanting to reconstruct Australian society to fit his own personal imaginings, and unconcenred about the details involved in getting it done.

That necessarily connects the question of policy back to character, and there Abbott’s imprudent incontinence also wieghs against him. A concern for your daughters’ virginity is no longer a conservative value. A concern that they be happy and find loving relationships, not get drawn into the more nihilistic aspects of modern sexual culture would be – but that would build on the widespread belief that a guiltless, unashamed view of sex as a human joy is the genuinely conservative attitude. It’s the focus on the maidenhead that is cultish and creepy.

That’s especially so when the man saying it is indulging physical obsession with exercise going well beyond what we would see as proper for an adult with wide responsibilities. Everyone who works in an office knows someone like Abbott – the wiry bloke who jogs 30kms to work, showers in the bathroom and keeps live yeast and tofu in the fridge. Talks about his BMI, and measures his body fat with a pari of compasses in idle moments. Not mad but not management material either.

In Abbott’s case it goes to a failure of judgement not merely of means, but of ends. For a genuine leader exercise – in the manner of Obama’s jogging, or John Howard’s regular walking – is a mere means to the higher and more genuinely civilised ends he is pursuing. Aside from people who have made athletics the centre of their life, we don’t want to see people become that obsessed with repetitive physical training.

The type of activity goes to the heart of that, because Abbott isn’t a mad player of cricket or mountain climbing, or anything that engages the whole human being. He is addicted to glorified fat burning, the activity in service to the  body, and the maintenance of its rigid boundaries. Possibly Abbott developed his fitness obsession as a trainee priest, to suppress libido, and when semen beat seminary he just kept going.

But let’s face it, in recent photos he looks fucking alarming, a grinning skeletor in service to his body, not in government of it. And the camera adds ten pounds. In life he must come across as a hand-carved wooden souvenir of himself.

You could probably get away with any one of these features. Together, they add up to something that most people simply rule out of contention, as a section of the public ruled out Mark Latham.

Who knows whether the conservatoriat actually believe this nonsense about Abbott having an appeal that Rudd lacks? Possubly they do, because they always convinced themselves that large numbers of voters warmed to John Howard as a representative of their values and souls. They never did of course. A lot of them hated Little Johnny Howard – as many people called him – but they knew he could do the job, and they judged the competition – Crean, Beazley, Latham – as men wanting in key areas, fathers’ sons in the case of the first two, the last at least partly driven on by anger at not being such.

So no doubt Rudd strikes them as the mealy-mouthed spec-head they knew at school. But even at school they knew he’d run the joint some day. Now that’s happened, they’re cool with it. If your political tastes are progressive, Rudd’s your guy as regards the available choices. And, at the moment, he’s also the go-to for people who were attracted to Howard by conservative style, by a steady, dull captain, even if you hate all this education crap (hard knocks, me. what’s all this year 8 nonsense).

That Abbott kid? Yeah he was a mad riot. Weeping on the church floor one day, punching on all night the next. Good times. Prime Minister? Are you crazy?

The fact that conservatives, and the right more generally, are so willing to indulge these wild rides – the Abbotts, the Joyces – is an expression of the chaotic state of their politics, and their powerful nostalgia for the combustive mix of Thatcherism, its structurally revolutionary character combined with its confident belief in illusory cultural certainties. In trying to recreate that vanished moment they are willing to do anything but develop a rational and consistent politics for a hypermodern world. If Abbott can’t find a way to do that – and he yet may –  his three strikes will become party’s.


Leave a comment

55 thoughts on “Save a space in the sepulchre, Abbott is 85% over

  1. Bob

    If Guy is right … and it is true that the Monk is taking acting lessons … perhaps his coach should use this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrq96cW2BuY as an instructional piece.

    Just trying to help!


  2. OBlizzard

    That was a cracking piece guy, really very well written, insightful, witty, incisive. One of the best pieces I’ve read here at Crikey.

  3. Venise Alstergren

    Excellent article Guy Rundle. It satisfies on all fronts. The Arthur Sinodus quote calling Tony Abbott the Spartacus of Oz politics is a fun remark. However, I think the man sees himself as an agéd King Henry V (Laurence Olivier version) at Agincourt. Where the cry “God for Harry, England and St George” would become God for Tony, Oz and the Holy Father.

    If the man obsesses too much about acting we could end up with him being an even greater drama queen than he already is. Which should give one pause to think about it.

    Perhaps the reason for his present silence lies closer to his church than to the voter. The present scandal of the Holy Roman Church, buggery of small boys and the shameful lies being told by the priests and the Holy Father must be a difficult time for someone as devout as Tony.

    Perhaps his ultimate bit of drama will be to renounce his Catholic faith hoping the great Oz voter will be so impressed they will vote for him? Now that would be cynical.


    Thoughtful, colourful, and thoroughly entertaining Guy, and it’s good to see the quotes from the hacks compared to yours at the time. Schadenfreude, I’m sure. Not that it stops them; Shamaham is doing it over in the Opposition Orifice again today, clumsily picking over the chicken entrails (otherwise known as polls) trying to winkle out a seat here and a seat there for Abbott in the next election.

    Ever since the near accidental elevation of the Mad Monk by one party room vote, there’s been a desperate attempt to pretend that it wasn’t with mock unity and that locker room bravado that moribund political parties wear like a clown suit. It gets attention, but for all the wrong reasons, just like Abbott’s sportswear is a scant fig leaf for a lack of policies and some appalling political judgment; he gets on the front page, but it’s really killing him.

    It might be Easter, but the Coalition ain’t coming back from the dead, at least not just yet.

  5. jonb2

    Is that it?


    try talking about the people who really matter. Gillard etc…

    you lefties really aren’t happy with winning are you? still talking about the government… oops…

  6. Bob Dobalina

    The punditry has hardened. Maybe it was
    too much lycra.

  7. noname

    This morning I was reading the quotations of Winston S. Churchill (as one does on Good Friday) and found two apposite quotes. The first was about Charles Beresford but reminded me of Barnaby.

    “He is one of those speakers…. Before they get up they do not know what they are going to say;. when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they sit down, they do not know what they have said”.

    And then there was this, regarding Naval officers, but which made me think of Tony Abbott.

    “In my experience… officers with high athletic qualifications are not usually successful in the higher ranks.”

  8. david

    Socrates, your last sentence is very thought provoking. I doubt there is a jurno with the guts to ask that question, apart from Crikeys Rundle and Keane. Considering the Pope has decided not to do anything about the molesters in his homeland and only the Irish have really been given the papal backhander, I doubt Abbott would dare enter the debate. If his religious boss is not speaking, that would be his perfect out. A good example of his duckshoving can be seen in the gay partners and acceptance debate. He wont say yes, he wont say no, he might and is considering it. Whats to consider? Maybe how Pell would react? I’m prepared to say now, there will be no gay reform if the Coalition somehow floundered their way into Government this year. At least we know where Rudd stands on the matter. It is a no no.

  9. Fascinated

    Didn’t Sarah Palin take ‘professional presentation’ classes too? Tony is getting ready for his next day job – radio shock jock/Current Affair host/not sure Ambassador to .. is on the list.
    Just wait quietly Malcolm. The Liberal party support base will soon be heard discussing how Abbott has significantly lowered the ‘tone’. Must be dreadfully embarassing for the old school ties.

  10. Socrates

    A deadly piece Guy, because it is painfully accurate. In fact, if you really wanted to do a hatchet job on Abbott you could add another bad fault – his authoritarian nature. “Strength” is just a code word for his absolutism and intollerance. Remember the RU486 debacle when he was health Minister? He wanted to put his own personal morality even ahead of party policy, never mind his ethical obligations to protect public health as a Minister. Who would want such a man to be Prime Minister. Howard was just as ruthless but knew when to stop when it was politically unwise. Abbott has no such restraint. The last person who should be given more power, is a religeous zealot who believes his beliefs trump other people’s rights.

    It woudl be fascinating for a journalist to ask Abbott for his response to the Cathlic church sexual cover-up scandal now. He couldn’t help himself to answer.

  11. sam from sunshine

    The key issue in looking at Abbott is the vane (as in weathervane) aproach he takes to ideas.

    If the wind is blowing in this direction he goes with “x”, if the wind turns he goes with “y”.

    It is not exactly a flip – flop but more a rapid movement in position that relates to movements he and his minders discern in prevailing moods and trends. Its like he is playing some elaborate ball game, so needs to keep changing direction when blocked so that he can maintain momentum.

    As a political alternative, it is just plain confusing.

    If the electors do not understand it, they will not vote for it.

    Abbott has shown a willingness to make these calls on his own (no shadow cabinet – no consultation – see the time for the trip outback and the Parental leave declaration). So he is a political maverick and if he keeps up the image of extreme activity he will paint himself into a corner where he does not relate to the average voter. They are not extremists in thought, behaviour or preference.

    Having gone this far – iron man and soon a multi day bike ride – he will continue to develop this extreme physically addicted to endorfin persona.

    Where is the reflective, deliberative, well thought through position? Its not Abbott’s game and he will not play it. He would rather jump up and punch your lights out.
    Is this what the average voter wants in their political leader?

  12. thedukeofmadness

    Guy, thank you for the article. As always, you entertain and enlighten.

    As much as I, a rusted on Labor supporter, despise the Liberals and all they stand for, I just cannot vote for my local candidate and Kevin Rudd by proxy.

    But I can’t vote Liberal and would rather be lobotomized with a rusty butter knife than vote for the Watermelons (communists hiding in the green movement) so I think I will have to vote donkey.

    The Ass Party (I would write a joke here but because of the filter it would make no sense.)

  13. jenauthor

    Guy, your assessment of Abbott is, for the most part, right on the money. His reactionary attitudes come to the fore too often and I think he honestly believes that his moral/religious evangelism is for the public good.

    Like most zealots, he likely believes that he will save people (in this case his constituency and ultimately the country) if he can only gain enough power in order to wield it as he thinks he should.

    The big mistake with this assertion is that he believes his morality/religious fervour represents the ‘good’ for everyone. Just like a Muslim/Jewish/Hindu … whatever… religious fanatic would. Belief in one’s own path to salvation does NOT make that path beneficial for anyone else. And thinking it does is arrogant and ignorant.

    On his public image/proposed acting lessons: from the very beginning I’ve found his inability to get a statement out without pausing meaningfully, an irritation beyond words. Smooth, he ain’t. Rude, yes. Bullish, yes. Perhaps he thinks those traits are necessary in a good politician? But if that is his position he cannot begrudge those attitudes in others — which he does.

    He swaggers like he has just come from either the jungle or “… like … bro … from the scene, bro.” All that’s missing is the backward baseball cap. I find his ‘primate-ish’ look and movements a put off — but then again he cannot help that just as Rudd cannot help looking nerdish.

    He appears exactly like an adrenaline/endorphin junkie would (skeletal) and when he doesn’t exercise? probably agro as well (if he exercised before the debate — it wasn’t long enough for the desired endorphin effect).

    It’s a little ‘goose and gander’ too. Remember Ken Henry being bagged for spending a couple of weeks saving wombats? Abbott conveniently remembers his religious teachings only when expedient (and don’t forget a very big chunk of the opposition are cut from the same religious cloth) — otherwise the coalition wouldn’t have cast that first stone.

    Also, all this talk of ‘authenticity’ is a nonsense. Both for Barnaby as well as Abbott. What is that honestly supposed to mean? If someone gave me that label I’d take it as an insult. Like being called ‘interesting’ or ‘one-of-a-kind’ its the kind of label you give someone when you can’t say anything favourable.

    Abbott’s elevation of Barnaby was a gamble (obviously not calculated) that has blown up in his face (much like baiting Rudd and getting what he asked for in the health debate). Barnaby is a loose cannon and at the moment he can’t help himself. The trouble is, Barnaby is a whacko, and first gagging him, then ungagging him, only made the cannon go off more than it did when he was ‘just a Nats senator’.

    Abbott was, I think, the coalition’s attempt at stable leadership. But the ranks behind are at such cross-purposes, that any idea, no matter how outlandish (e.g. PPS) is grasped with both hands. And rather than asserting any kind of leadership strength, Abbott has been shown, by his continual flip-flopping on issues, that the ‘leadership qualities’ the opposition thought Abbott had, to be merely an image.

    I just love the ridiculous conservative focus on debt and deficit when they cannot come up with a plausible alternate argument on any other issue.

    Would any of them not borrow if they found themselves and their family in a position where they knew that temporarily their income stream had been lessened? Would they not provide food and shelter for a family member who had lost their job through no fault of their own? Of course they would. And if they could do it in a constructive way that might stimulate that income stream in the process, they’d jump at it.

    That is what the govt. did. Every person/company that would have gone under continues to pay taxes (which wouldn’t have been the case the coalits had their way).

    Can anyone imagine how ‘reckless’ and ‘incompetent’ the govt. would have been, in the coalition’s rhetoric, if they’d let the the GFC just wash over us until we all but drowned (like so much of the rest of the world). The press and the coalits would have wanted the hide of every minister and public servant in the country had that been the case.

  14. Stevo the Working Twistie

    Trolls to the left of me, trolls to right, here I am stuck in the middle with…. hmmmm.

  15. shepherdmarilyn

    Billy blogs, Rudd is not reckless with out future. That was the Howard mob who slavishly followed that reckless old fraud Alan Greenspan all the way down the garden path to ruin.

    Do understand one thing – if the treasury, Rudd and Swan had not acted we would be in worse debt and a recession to boot with massive unemployment as icing on the cake.

  16. shepherdmarilyn

    Now the nasty little freak wants to do whatever it takes to stop refugees exercising their legal right to claim protection from persecution and the media indulge the coward by letting him spit and sputter like a lunatic.

    I liked Christian better when he was Hillary as he sure has sold out to the Murdoch mad machine.

    As for all this waste, good lord. Aren’t people allowed to be paid for their work anymore? Apparently not according to Abbott and co. Perhaps they would like to volunteer for service and give their pay to the homeless.

    But wait, didn’t Abbott have a giant whinge about his mortgage when the Howard mob got the boot?

  17. david

    @voter…you will find more balanced reporting here at Crikey than you will ever get at the Australian, as one example. Take Christian Kerr for example, who this afternoon performed like the original stone man on PM Agenda on Sky. he sat motionless, never an expression, talked in robotic tones and looked for all the world like a man who desperately wanted to let go with a thunderous bottled up fart. Kerr also, in defending Barnaby Joyce as a true professional, who sometimes gets his words wrong, wouldnt hear of a word being said against the said shadow minister. Well he would be the only one apart from Joyce immediate family. Kerr is well and truely delivering the right wing propaganda as demanded by his bosses at News Ltd. No balanced reporting there and Kerr made it clear he would not be taking Joyce to task, he is doing a good job according to our Christian and jurnos should leave him alone. Someone must have had a liquid lunch and it wasn’t me.

  18. voter

    Balanced reporting either way is difficult to get by the looks of things

  19. voter

    CRIKEY.COM.AU will increase its emphasis on original reporting under new editor Sophie Black, who officially takes over at the news, opinion, analysis and gossip site today.

  20. voter

    “The challenge is to make a clear delineation between (that) and the stuff people are paying for — the investigative stuff, the tips and rumours and the high-end analysis — to make sure they can co-exist.” – huh ?

  21. Billy Blogs

    So much time wasted discussing Abbott when blatant financial waste is happening right under your nose. Worrying about him wearing speedos and how much time he jogs of a morning, or what his daughters wear in the pool – all the while the major construction companies are lining their pockets with cash that will no doubt go to new Porches and speed boats for Christmas.

    You guys are a laugh a minute. And you call yourself idependent media monitors???…Hahahahah! Go back and read your own statement and have a think.

  22. voter

    Very colourful blog. I vote either way depending on performance.

    You only give Abbott 3 strikes ? How many for Rudd ?

    By the looks of things I’ve only got the greens to vote for.

  23. Veronica

    Guy – interesting comment about Abbott being determined to fail, I had not thought of it from that perspective but I think you’re right. Maybe it has something to do with Catholic guilt.

    Finding your comments on Abbott’s obsession with exercise a bit harsh, I googled how many hours of training you need to do a week for an iron man contest – the minimum was 8-12 hours of training per week for at least 20 weeks. I think that qualifies as an obsession! I don’t think people would be as forgiving of pollies who spent that amount of time gardening or playing music or other leisurely pursuits. NOnetheless, I think your comments about ‘semen vs seminary’ and Abbott looking like skeletor are crass and a bit beyond the pale. I should point out that I am an atheist and of centre-left political persuasion so I am not sympathetic to Abbott on either of those grounds.

  24. SBH

    speaking of sex and smarm, I loved the way Tony got his bikini clad daughters to flash their boobies on 42 minutes. All class

  25. LacqueredStudio

    snesn11: That’s not the only bogus assertion thrown around in this article:

    Since when has it been a “widespread belief” that a “guiltless, unashamed view of sex as a human joy” is the “genuinely conservative attitude”, exactly? Because I can’t think of a single example in my life where that’s been the case, let alone experiencing it as a “widespread” belief. So are you just pulling these factoids out of your arse again, Mr. Rundle? Is it just to get a rise out people who know lines like this are pure horseshit? How about putting some (f)actual meat on those skinny bones, sir?

    As I’ve said with regard to other pieces of yours, Guy, a brilliantly written article. I honestly enjoy your style and wit. But either you take your readers for dummies when you default to your imagination to fill in the gaps in your rhetoric, or, as I’ve said before, you’ve identified a successful ploy in using audacious, fact-free assertion – deft-fully measured like an Indian spice – to draw the traffic and commentary of anyone who’s actually paying attention.

    I suspect it’s the latter; I don’t know which is worse. Either way, it’s a cynical, smarmy attitude. But it works.

  26. Mikko

    And Kevin 747 can lead when he’s off on another overseas jaunt after he recovers from the big backside kick at Copenhagen? Yeah. right.

  27. John Reidy

    My Father is a lifelong conservative voter (& catholic) and will most likely still vote for the Lib candidate at the next election, however he doesn’t have any respect for Abbot as a leader.
    The various fitness activities are not the actions of a leader, how can he lead the troops to put in maximum effort.
    And Blogs banging on about the deficit.
    Some maths, the debt is projected at what $200bn or $300bn? The stimulus package is about $50bn – it doesn’t quite add up, the difference is in the projected company tax receipts.
    The $50bn (or $60bn) stimulus package has probably paid for itself in averting a recession.
    Under the coalition the debt might be $50bn less but we probably would have had a recession.

  28. fitter

    quality article – loved it – thats the best piece on Abbott I have ever read!

  29. gillby

    Truth is truth. Abbott is a meathead with issues. The moderates have been undermining Abbott for the last month, trying to get their party back; they’ve already written off this election. Costello has recently written two articles undermining The Misguided Monk. Now Hockey has finally started opening his mouth. Turnbull is quite, too quiet, waiting for the fall. Minchin is no longer around to hold and moisturise Abbott’s hand. And to make it all worse, the Australian-Palin (Bananarby) is itching to help do it, now that his frustrated mouth has had the tape pulled off it. It’ll be 2016 before the Libs clean all this up. Poor old News Ltd…

  30. merde

    Look, I’m no Tony Abbott fan – on many levels.

    But seriously Guy. Have a look at your PR photo, and ask yourself if you really should be slamming Abbott for what exercise has done to his body.

    Besides, if he ever does become PM I think he should be encouraged to train 30 hours a week. The less time he’d have to spend turning his personal beliefs into public policy, the better.

  31. Holden Back

    Glad to have amused

  32. Mikko

    Well it is April 1, but after reading some of your conclusions about Ironman Abbott it dawned on me you are serious. So being fit and having a personality are liabilities, he must have lost the forgettable health debate ’cause the worm said so, and completing the marathon triathlon that would kill many couch potato Aussies half his age was an act of “self-indulgence”? LOL, keep plugging your shades of grey hero “Kevin” with his answers of “programmatic specivity” (Hell I don’t even know how to spell that, let alone guess what he meant). If anyone needs a coach to help him keep us awake, it’s him.

  33. Tomboy

    Great article. Loved the comment, Holden Back…nearly fell-off my chair laughing!

  34. pete8

    I saw Guy Rundle on Q&A not long ago. He appeared overweight, perhaps obese.

    You get that way from over-eating and under-exercising. So it’s a bit of a joke to read Guy pontificating about ‘acceptable’ levels of exercise or people who try to maintain a healthy weight.

    Get off your fat arse Guy. You could learn something from those you mock and improve your quality of life at the same time.

  35. SBH

    Abbott’s even forgotten to keep his head at 45degrees to the camera to hide is lugs. (it’s a guess, maybe its 47degrees or 36.2) What a wingnut!

    The lack of analysis by our senior journos that this article illustrates should make them cower in shame. Malcolm Colless being handed Barnaby’s essential elements on a plate and waving them away could only be an act of a ignorance or bias. And Michelle Grattan and Fran Kelly’s simplistic superficial commentry is no better.

    Surely to christ we deserve better than this kind of ‘man in the pub’ opinion.

    love you work Guy

  36. Charles Livingstone

    A terrific take on the Abbott by the increasingly insightful Rundle. Although they probably won’t read this piece, Abbott’s parliamentary colleagues should, because I suspect a growing number of them have their own gut feeling about what he will mean for their electoral prospects. It also seems to me that Abbott’s is much more a medieval imaginary than a modern (let alone a hyper-modern) one. Hence his creepiness and all round weirdness. He’s a sort of narcissistic Joan of Arc, happiest when suited up and leading the troops in to battle. Of course, he’ll get burned out in due course, and probably by his own side.

  37. Sancho

    “Skeletor” has a capital S. Know your 80s cartoons.

  38. snesn11

    Perhaps he will become a Method actor and will try to ‘live’ a successful politician – and come out looking and talking like Kevin Rudd.

  39. reb of Hobart

    Drama Lessons. As if Abbott really needs them.

    Who’s the instructor? Barnaby Joyce…???

  40. Elan

    Don’t be so damned childish Guy!!

    You wish, and I wish re Abbott, but that doesn’t extrap to being ‘85% over’ !!

    There is a fair slice of this populace who support these Howard mutants,-and will be working hard to get them back into Gov.

    But if you want to squeeze your eyes shut-cover your ears-and jump up and down, then go right ahead. When you stop your little wish game……………

    ………………..there he is. Exactly where he was before.

  41. Holden Back

    The Spartacus metaphor was always a strange one. I presume its the ‘I am Spartacus’ sequence in the slave camp – which incidentally, gets everyone crucified – meant to convey the power of an idea in Kubrick’s film, to which Sinodinos was referring. It’s the Cold Warrior in gladiator gear, yes? I can’t see Kevin bringing much to the Olivier role, but is Chrissy Pyne reprising the Tony Curtis part?

  42. snesn11

    Given his ‘skeletal’ head and his complete adherence to Catholic orthodoxy perhaps it is time to rename Tony as ‘Papal Skulls’.

  43. snesn11

    85% over? Where does this fake accuracy come from? How did Guy decide it wasn’t 80% or 90% or 87.3426%?

    I am happy to say that Abbott has virtually no chance of winning the next election but I wouldn’t go around putting a bogus number (any takers for 2.35%?) on it.

  44. skink

    with the acting coach be teaching Abbott some ‘people skills’?

  45. Billy Blogs

    It’s pretty funny that you all laugh at what you consider the defeat of Abbott, yet you refuse to celebrate the man he would replace if elected. It proves you’re just cheerleaders for the ALP and care not for the future of our country.

    I think you understand that Rudd is both reckless and incompetant with our future, and that will only put further pressure on the support we can give those less fortunate. As government debt grows, taxes rise along with interest rates, the wealthy will be there to take advantage of the poor when the bubble finally bursts. It’s nothing new – it’s happened time and time again.

    So cheer away, but let’s remember who it was that will finally bring us all to our knees – the man you support, yet refuse to stand behind.

  46. Cuppa


    Even if his body were as smooth as an egg, she would still fawn gracelessly at his feet. It’s the Party he leads that has her blind loyalty.

  47. 1934pc

    And Janets desire for hairy men, which should show a lack of evolution on his part, and therefore an insult to womens intelligence.

  48. Altakoi

    Did Minchin leave because the party was over?

  49. Cuppa

    Great piece, Guy! Thanks. Can I start with your final words:

    [“… develop a rational and consistent politics for a hypermodern world. If Abbott can’t find a way to do that – and he yet may – his three strikes will become party’s.”]

    For a start you should never use the words “Abbott” and “modern” in the same paragraph. And you should never EVER use the words “Abbott” and “hypermodern” in the same essay or even in the same lifetime!

    For this is a sinister little shell of a human who wants to take us back further than a pre-Thatcher era. He envisions some wretched medieval world, of masters and servants, rich and dirt-poor, fathers and virginity, fire and brimstone, fear and smear.

    He would sell our children into virtual workplace slavery, and our daughters into existential servitude. He would poison our descendants’ atmosphere with ever-escalating carbon emissions. Redistribute money from the poor to the rich, victimise the weak and minorities for political gain. Rip money out of public health and education so that only the wealthy get educated and healthy. Saturate our lives with omnipresent state partisan propaganda (paid for with our taxes). Inflict a backward fundamentalist religious pall onto the national character.

    When Paul Keating described him as the Coalition’s resident nutter, he was, as usual, incisive and surgically precise. The Mad Abbott.

    The only question is: when will his wingnut boosters admit they’ve backed a dud? The longer they hold out, the more ridiculous they look. Fran Kelly, I’m looking at you, and Janet Albrechtsen, Piers Akerman, Miranda Devine and the other toadies – wake up!

  50. david

    Awesum article Guy, loved the “when semen beat seminary”, line :-).
    As for Abbott hiring an acting coach, if ever the saying, ‘ a leopard can’t change its spots ‘ was appropriate, this is it. Abbotts agro and attacking persona is inbuilt. What is more concerning is his sudden change of mood. From an apparent levelheaded reasonable tone, he suddenly becomes the yelling, screaming, falsetto toned, arm waving, face distorted yobbo. There is more than a touch of schizophrenic in this man. His menacing, jaw thrusting poses, with eyes bulging as he glares at opponents, fixed in a steely almost trance like gaze is not normal. There appears to be a demon inside Abbott and he is having trouble controlling it. Sometimes he makes even Mark Latham appear docile.

  51. Keith is not my real name

    Amen brother, amen.

  52. Mobius Ecko

    According to a news snippet I heard this morning Abbott has now hired an acting coach.

    If true imagine how well this is going to play with the public. The ‘authentic’, ‘genuine’ and ‘straight talking’ leader who has been consistently accusing Rudd of being nothing but spin hires someone to teach him how to put on an act.

  53. blue_green

    Geez that article must have been fun to write, Guy.

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