by Ross Sharp

Our Prime Minister had a Howard Beale moment a couple days ago.

Three women in the office here, no admirers of Julia Gillard, were enthusing over the moment yesterday, quite giddy with collective joy at seeing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott reduced from Thunder Budgie to Incy Wincy Hummingbird in the space of twelve excoriating minutes.

Reaction on social media, or at least that media I take part in, was generally one of gobsmacked awe, epic smackdown and fuckyeahs all ‘round, and much of that from women.

So when Paul “trying hard to be a conservative Alan Ramsey #fail” Sheehan threw something up online at the SMH halfway through the day that seemed to come from not just another planet, but from a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man, a land of both shadow and substance, not only of sight and sound but of mind, accusing Gillard of being “the driver of the politics of hate in Australia”, I had a wibbly-wobbly moment and felt a little fuzzy around the edges of my personal reality.

Of 539 comments (to date), the first one could sum up that moment …

“you have GOT to be kidding me” – Roaster, Sydney, October 10, 2012, 2:32PM

And this too, is nice …

“Mr Akerman, Is that you?” – Joel, Sydney, October 10, 20112, 2:38PM

Sheehan asks (and what any of these have to do with what Gillard actually said I’ve no idea ) …

“But then why did she mislead the Australian people before the last election on the carbon tax? Why did she leave her law firm under a cloud? Why did she shaft her own leader? Why did she depose a prime minister who had a mandate from the people? Why has she methodically deployed the politics of personal abuse?”

To the first, this tedious meme about Gillard lying is like listening to a flailing crèche of 3 year olds whine because someone’s taken all their teddy bears away and told them Santa Claus isn’t real. If you want a leader who doesn’t lie, you could always vote for Jesus Christ, but he’s dead, so the chances of pre-selection there are pretty slim. To the second, frankly I don’t give a fuck, and I don’t know anyone who does beyond the jerking circle of pedestal-lounging, aging pseudo-puritans of op-ed performance art who act all surprised when politics reveals itself to be the grubby business it mostly is, and not a pre-school fairy-bread fete of blessed sunbeams spreading inspiration and joy all ‘round (with free loaves and fishes). The third, because he was a fraud and a windbag, and fulla nothin’ but talk. Fourth, see three. Five, there’s that wibbly-wobbly moment comin’ back with a vengeance.

Here’s Tim Dunlop at the ABC

“What is particularly telling in the case of the way the PM’s speech was reported is that – also thanks to the internet and social media – people were able to see the very different reception her speech received overseas. As blogger Mr Denmore noted:

In this case, a passionate and thrilling speech by a prime minister about sexism and the low-level tactics of a political opposition leader beyond cynicism attracted world attention. But our gallery are too clever to see that.

They instead took the bait fed to them by the spin doctors on the other side of politics that there was some moral equivalence between the private text messages sent by the Speaker (when he was still a member of the Opposition, by the way) and the overwhelming climate of personal denigration and misogyny created by the Opposition Leader and the tabloid flying monkeys that cheer him on.

The public can see this, obviously the global media can see it. But a press gallery that spends more time getting “briefed” by spinners and reading each other’s copy completely misses the story. Again.”

And …

“When you have the likes of Michelle Grattan, Peter Hartcher, Peter van Onselen (paywalled), Jennifer Hewett (paywalled), Geoff Kitney, Phillip Coorey, and Dennis Shanahan (paywalled) all spouting essentially the same line in attacking the Prime Minister – a line at odds with the many people’s own interpretation of events – people wonder what the point of such journalism is.”

This is a comment from ABC702’s Facebook page yesterday …

Lisa Woodward – “She was inspirational. I know a lot of people have been commenting that she did not address the issue of Peter Slipper however, other members of the Labor Party did. Her role was to remind Abbott that he was in no position to lecture her about sexism – which, if you listen to his motion against the speaker is exactly what he did; oh, and of course he was ill-advised to use the phrase “government should die of shame!” What was he thinking??? If you listened to question time you would have heard others speaking to the issue including, surprise surprise, Bob Katter, who was actually articulate in explaining why he would abstain from voting as he was against turning parliament into a “kangaroo court. It was inappropriate to move a motion to dismiss the speaker over a case that is still in court. Simple as that.

Not once did she defend Peter Slipper – she and the rest of the party spoke against the motion without defending the man or his actions.”

This is what the Prime Minister said …

“On the conduct of Mr Slipper, and on the text messages that are in the public domain, I have seen the press reports of those text messages. I am offended by their content. I am offended by their content because I am always offended by sexism. I am offended by their content because I am always offended by statements that are anti-women.

I am offended by those things in the same way that I have been offended by things that the Leader of the Opposition has said, and no doubt will continue to say in the future. Because if this today was an exhibition of his new feminine side, well I don’t think we’ve got much to look forward to in terms of changed conduct.

I am offended by those text messages. But I also believe, in terms of this Parliament making a decision about the speakership, that this Parliament should recognise that there is a court case in progress. That the judge has reserved his decision, that having waited for a number of months for the legal matters surrounding Mr Slipper to come to a conclusion, that this Parliament should see that conclusion.

I believe that is the appropriate path forward, and that people will then have an opportunity to make up their minds with the fullest information available to them.”

Simple as that.