Saturday, December 11, 2004

An excellent short bio of John Howard

I found this terrific description of John Howard by Mungo MacCallum at Margo Kingston's web diary. He was launching his book about the 2004 election, Run, Johnny Run. Great title.

The following sentiments are spot on. Howard was always just a great and tenacious hanger on. He hung around long enough to get the leadership of the Libs - twice. As Mungo says, he was even passed over for Alexander Downer, and this should have rung alarm bells for him. Mungo perfectly describes Howard as a monomaniac. Here is an excerpt on Howard from the launch:

'Well, I think the point about Howard is that he's a monomaniac. That he is only interested in politics. I mean, he pretends to be a bit interested in cricket. But that's about his only other - the only other side to him.

I mean, politics is what he's always been involved in, and it's the only thing he knows. And interestingly I think Howard's the only Prime Minister since probably Chifley of whom it can honestly be said that he would not have made more money outside Parliament than inside it.

His talents are strictly limited to politics, and that's why he persevered. I mean, you think about it. When you go - you come into Parliament in 1974. You have a bit of a dream run first up because you're in the Ministry under Malcolm, then Phil Lynch screws up as treasurer so you're - suddenly you're treasurer.

And then suddenly it all goes pear-shaped. I mean, Fraser resigns, the Peacock-Howard years start, where they play musical chairs with the leadership for a considerable time, to the great detriment of the party.

Howard finally sees off Peacock. They don't go for Howard, they go for Hewson. Hewson f...s up. Righto. Then Howard's still there, and they go for Alexander Downer. Now, I mean, any normal human being, at this stage being passed over - after thirty years in the Parliament - to be passed over for Alexander Downer...

(laughter)

I mean, you'd shoot yourself. You'd go out and become a beachcomber. You'd do anything. But not Howard. Because politics is all he knows. It's all he's ever wanted to know. It's all he cares about.

So Howard perseveres and perseveres and perseveres, and eventually, of course, he's last man standing. But - and then, of course, once he gets into power, for all sorts of reasons, like the ruthlessness with which he attacks the normal conventions and institutions of the public service, the judiciary, even the military, and his control freak stuff with a - a more than usually acquiescent media - he gets away with it.

But the key to Howard is nothing more than this. I mean, it is he is a megalomaniac. He's ruthlessly ambitious about politics. Always has been, always will be. It's the only thing he knows. I mean, for Howard not to be involved in a political struggle would - he would see it as, you know, something like the repeal of the law of gravity.

You know, it just wouldn't be natural. It couldn't happen.'


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