Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Politics, or All The Things I Was Going To Say (Honest) But Someone Else Said First.

Forgive me, but I’m about to make a foray into politics. I know, religion last post, politics this one – I promise I won’t do it too often. Well, religion perhaps, but politics… ok, I take it back, no promises. I may need to add politics to the ‘things I’d like to be geekier about’ list.

Anyway, Australia has a Federal election this week. Due to the distressing lack of differentiation between the major parties* – except perhaps on internet speed – I have been following it in a desultory fashion. What has struck me and, recently, a number of other people, is how unlike themselves Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot are being.

I had been working on an interesting, witty, intellectual and thought-provoking post around this theme using The West Wing episode ‘Let Bartlet be Bartlet.’ Unfortunately this guy beat me to it, which at least saves me some work and gives me a chance of posting this before the election. It also got a mention here a bit later. Any credit owed there, chaps?

I disagree with Tim-with-the-very-long-surname on the similarities in the US election – there were some, but he stretches a few points. I was also going to say that Obama should probably buy Jimmy Smits lunch some time, but on doing some Google homework I discovered several conspiracy theories out there, most of them a few years older than this post. For the record, I don’t think either Abbot or Gillard or Obama are anywhere near Jed Bartlet, what with him being fictional and all. What might influence my vote is footage of any (or all) of them arguing with God in a cathedral. In Latin. Go on, I dare you.

Getting back to the focus on Julia, the nominally-left candidate, (I hear Bob Brown laughing somewhere) and who she really is, I’m afraid Tony Abbot has been sadly neglected. Where’s the 'let Tony be Tony' campaign? Yes, he says stupid things, but you know what? So do most of us. He’s demonstrated in the last few weeks that he can restrain himself when necessary,  which means he could probably survive a UN conference without committing us to nuclear war. (Oh, goodness, I feel like a cricket commentator talking about Sehwag’s skill when he’s on 99.)  I know I’m odd, but I think the ‘real’ Tony has some appeal as well. Not to 18 year olds, or some journalists, but, you know, the rest of us. Abbot is trying quite hard to be the nominally-right candidate, but why not just head out and be the right candidate? Not all the way, (sorry Dave) but there’s plenty of space over there on the right without running into anything too radical. We have money, Tony, we know you need to cut the budget. We have values, we’re happy for you to tell us yours – if you can ever manage to get quoted properly. We’d probably like 1Gbps downloads, but we wonder who will pay for that. I’m not a fan of the whole ‘let’s find an island and lock up those 700 people each year desperately trying to escape terrible lives who might steal jobs from the, umm, hundreds of thousands of unemployed.’ I’m also not a fan of cutting immigration – we need people – but that’s something where I’d like to find out what Tony actually thinks. I like Tony Abbot – you might’ve noticed – but I am still undecided on some of his colleagues. I also like Julia Gillard. I reckon we could bond over stories about aunts asking us when we're going to find the right bloke, or settle down, or have babies.

The ultimate point of this post (there is one, and it’s not how depressingly unoriginal my ideas are) is that This Annoys Me. ‘This’ being Julia-not-being-Julia, the impressive Tony-not-being-Tony for several weeks, and then the new Julia-being-slightly-more-like-Julia-but-not-too-much. (We’re all happy about the voice coach, Julia, trust me.) These two have both been attack dogs for their parties. We know these people - we’ve seen their teeth, their unattractive slobber, the wounds (and/or bodies) left behind. In this last week of campaigning, we’ve seen their least flattering photographs. Are there really that few of us capable of remembering their previous behaviour, or of googling it? Do either party really think that we’ll believe the shallow templates of a prime minister they’ve tried to superimpose over these two real, complex, interesting people? Do either party really believe that the relentless negative ads with deep, sinister soundtracks will disguise their lack of policy?

Maybe they do. Maybe what I’m really grumpy about is that I don’t have a viable alternative.

(*this comment may be a sneaky ploy to generate comments, given my extensive market research and target audience.)