Wednesday, 5 August 2009
I was both physically and mentally impaired and was labouring to satisfy a large number of very high-profile and demanding stakeholders with inadequate support.
G Grech to the Auditor-General Report
In all the medico/psycho-babble in the media yesterday to explain Grech’s poor physical and mental health, few seemed to want to blame the onerous demands of satisfying not only his employers in the government but his political friends in the opposition as well.
The media kept on having it both ways over Grech yesterday. Most notably The Australian, who repeated Grech’s claim that Turnbull had pressured him over the e-mail, presumably because they thought Grech did have credibility, but not his more explosive claim that Rudd did send the e-mail, presumably because they thought Grech did not. Maybe Rudd’s campaign against The Australian might be having some effect.
For whatever reason the media played it both ways over Grech, why did the Liberals as well? There was only one tactic that the Liberals should have been deploying against someone who was claiming their leader was a liar, they should have been going all out to destroy and undermine his credibility. It shouldn’t have been too hard. The guy had broken public service codes of conduct, helped used car dealers donors for his political purposes while he was accusing the government of doing the same, and shopped his work colleagues to his employers. Sure there would have been some complications, namely that he was doing all of this for the Liberals that now needed to dump him, but as we saw with the way Howard dumped on his own staff while in government, charges of hypocrisy never seemed to worry them before.
But there wasn’t much sign of that. Christian Kerr thought senior Liberals on Monday were ‘rallying’ to Turnbull. Lord knows what he thinks ‘left swinging in the breeze’ looks like. He cites Costello’s valiant efforts, but his appearance on Lateline that night was classic Costello; self-indulgent and self-pitying, and effectively undermining whoever was the leader of the party he loves so much. After comparing the Ozcar e-mail to the election-losing ‘disaster’ of the Lindsay leaflet, and repeating Howard’s testimony to the strength of Grech’s character, he then adds this helpful little zinger:
TONY JONES: Does the affair, the Godwin Grech affair, still have the capacity to damage further [Turnbull’s] leadership?
PETER COSTELLO: Look, I think, really, most of what can be known will be known… Unless there’s some knockout new development. Suppose the author of the email suddenly appears from somewhere – that would be a knockout new development.
Said, by an enormous coincidence, just as Grech’s confession was running off The Australian’s presses that night!
When Grech’s statement came out the next day saying Turnbull was lying about not pressuring him, again there seemed to be more Liberals defending Grech than their leader. Poor old Turnbull was left to defend himself by attacking Grech in his own cack-handed way. Far more masterful was Abbott’s performance on The 7.30 Report that evening. Despite Abbott’s ‘apparent’ challenge to Turnbull with the release of Battle Lines, he has shown his loyalty to Turnbull by being very close to him since then.
That loyalty was fully on display last night, the only problem was that Abbott still had trouble joining Turnbull’s attack on Grech. Kerry O’Brien said that Abbott was prepared to accept Grech’s veracity on some accounts but not in others, but in fact not once did Abbott criticise Grech but instead continually praised him as an ‘able, diligent, conscientious, public-spirited servant of Australia’. The closest he got was “I suspect that the Godwin Grech of today is a different person in fundamental areas” but not enough to say how.
It’s no wonder after such support that Kerry O’Brien was driven to ask “you’re gonna allow him to lead you, potentially, into electoral oblivion?” To which Abbott replied, “As long as Malcolm is willing to lead the party, he will lead the party.” You could almost see the thought bubble emerge from Abbott’s head “and how long do you think that might be now, Malcolm?”
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 5 August 2009.Filed under Tactics