So, the Liberals have settled the leadership question. And this time they mean it, okay? (Until the next bad poll.)
Kerry O’Brien interviewed John Howard last night. Howard pleaded to govern for up to three more years. Uh, this mightn’t have been the best thing to tell people who keep telling him to go away, they’re bored of him. Like Barnaby Joyce, my thoughts turn to a metaphor of lovers. Of the jilted lover who cannot accept it is over. Vows to change. Reminds you of the good times. Stalks you.
The biggest question went unanswered: Why exactly is Howard so much better than Costello to lead now, given he’s happy for Costello to be PM when, ‘well into’ his next term, he deigns to go. (We're left guessing what 'well into' means, but from his digs at Beattie and Bracks, we must assume it must be more than one year.)
Why not Costello now? If he’s good enough for us in the foreseeable future, surely he’s good enough now. What is he, chopped liver? Oh, that’s right, he is.
If Howard is saying Costello is still not good enough to lead, after all this time, he’s deliberately selling us a dud. He emphasised the team was running for reelection, not just him. In that case, why is it so important that he head it up. Why can’t another team member have a go?
Truth is, I doubt very much that Howard thinks Costello will ever lead. "Over my dead body," is the phrase that leaps to mind. Howard knows that by the time he retires, someone else will have had time to make their mark (or remake it) and oust an unelectable Costello.
Costello is the Liberal Party’s Simon Crean. A man whose sense of entitlement is palpable to the voters but still doesn’t manage to win the public over. And Costello has far more policy baggage on top of that.
Howard claims that if elected again,
...well into my term, I would come to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of everybody if I retired...
But we are left wondering why it would suddenly then be in the party's best interests to leave. And what if it wasn't? According to the strange logic of his exit formula, wouldn't he have to stay whether he wanted to or not, so long as the party wanted him and it was in their best interests? (Hotel Howard: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.)
OK, sample people: go forth and cane them again via the polls.
It’s making such great political reality TV.