by Ross Sharp

George Megalogenis from The Australian (registration required) …

“What Gillard’s speech clarified is that Abbott doesn’t understand his opponent, even if he once got on well with her. He mistook her silence before last week as weakness. She didn’t react to the taunts because she didn’t want to seem shrill. He kept pressing, expecting that she would eventually crack. But she was biding her time, waiting for the opportunity when he over-reached.

There was another look that crossed his face – exhaustion. He seemed to shrink as she approached her finale. Then, with a gesture that could never be scripted, she mocked him as he glanced at his watch. Abbott threw his hands up, the child protesting to the mother that he wasn’t guilty of that too. The theatre was the story; an irony given the self-serving critique that the press gallery has faced on social media. Wasn’t the problem of the 2010 campaign the reverse; that the press gallery ignored the context and focused on the trivia?

Whether the public likes the true Julia from here on depends on whether they see her in their corner on what matters to them. Howard was able to shift the perception that he was mean and tricky by being tough when voters wanted reassurance after the twin 2001 shocks of the Tampa and September 11.

But there is a more serious question for Abbott. The odour of sexism will linger because he has been playing the gender card against Gillard. He drew it from the bottom of the deck, on behalf of the minority of men who may never get used to the idea of a female PM. What he never counted on was Gillard calling his bluff. Now that she has, the idea that Abbott can unify the nation if he wins the next election seems just that little bit harder to imagine.”

Hooray for George. One of the few commentators in mainstream media worth paying attention to.

Paul Sheehan, on the other hand, appears to have written the same column now about four times. Perhaps he’s unwell.