We're running late for smoko today. Just back from a month's hols, and
the van hasn't shown up. It's good to see The Good, The Bad & the Ugly
have all safely returned to work. After all, Blondie is the brains of the
operation, Angel Eyes provides the muscle, and we keep Tuco around purely
for his good looks!
Your raging correspondent has kept his ear to the ground during the
silly season, trying to ascertain for On Line Opinion how the
holidaying worker rates our nation's leaders.
First, the current PM, John Howard. Carmen Lawrence was spot on when
she described Honest John as being "the most deeply ordinary person
that I've ever confronted in Australian politics". And there lies the
secret of his success, as Matt
Price tells us in The Australian (So ordinary, this man's
extraordinary). The blue-collar battlers are very comfortable with him:
they feel Little Johnny is no better than any of them. They hope he stays
on for a while yet, as the current crop of pretenders do not impress.
What of our former Prime Ministers? As I was born during Black Jack
McEwen's brief term, I can only remember back to the days of old Hawkey
spontaneously giving us a national holiday after sucking too much
champagne from his shirt when we won The America's Cup. But my colleagues
are mostly children of the Menzies-Holt era, with one going all the way
back to Joe Scullin! So I picked their mildly inebriated brains about our
recent PMs while on the party circuit.
They remember the Robert Menzies era as being "when time stood
still. Australia was stuck in the 50s for over 20 years." Harold Holt
was a "Menzies clone" whom they hated for his "sucking up
to LBJ". They still argue over his disappearance, with shark attack
and suicide being the prevailing schools of thought. No one remembers
McEwen, but they all loved John Gorton:
"A man's man, with a woman on each arm!"
"A bloody great larrikin."
"Stood up to the Yanks."
"Top Aussie bloke. Didn't he knock that journo up?"
My workmates are far less agreeable about Gorton's successor, Billy
McMahon. Indeed, they seem embarrassed simply by the mention of his name:
"He was a poon, a complete moron!"
"A dwarf with big ears."
"Yeah, but his wife had great legs!"
"What did she ever see in him?"
"Didn't her son marry a Minogue?"
They could not explain how a man of his limited abilities ever became
Prime Minister: "I think the Libs knew they were going to lose to
Gough, so they put him up to be the bunny."
What of Whitlam? They remember Gough for his style, not his substance:
"Something was always happening."
"Pulled the troops out of Vietnam!"
"No, you dolt, that was Gorton!"
"I thought it was McMahon?"
"Well I knew he had to be good for something!"
When I pressed further, they could only remember one lasting
achievement of the Whitlam government - the purchase of Blue Poles.
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