Thursday, 18 July 2013

N Sava - Lights, camera, inaction man

Lights, camera, inaction man

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke Source: The Australian
IN the documentary Truth or Dare, Warren Beatty, of all people, gets exasperated by the constant presence of cameras recording every moment of the life of his then girlfriend, Madonna, during her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour.
"She doesn't want to live off camera, much less talk . . . what point is there of existing off camera?" Beatty says, funnily enough, to the cameras.
So to the Cult of Kevin and his Blind Ambition tour to remake Labor in his own image, and in the process more deeply entrench the presidential nature of Australian election campaigns, to guarantee parties remain subordinate to the dominant personality. Right now that would be hisself. Rudd's behaviour, which at any other time journalists would have risen en masse to describe as manic or egomaniacal, prompted recall of the Beatty quote, particularly after Rudd posted his selfie with a piece of toilet paper stuck to his face, replete with note to selfie urging care in the use of razors.
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For someone extremely adept at using both sharp and blunt instruments, it demonstrated again, that when it comes to Kevin, there is no life away from cameras, and for the rest of us, now that he has dared Labor to effectively ordain him leader for life, there is the prospect of no life without Kevin.
We are told Facebook aficionados liked the photo of Kevin's self-inflicted wound, probably almost as much as social media loved Julia Gillard's misogyny speech and the skateboarding dog. Introducing Barry the Back Cushion Mate proved there would be no end to it as Kevin had previously warned, when he explained that because he is only human and he feels compelled to prove it, he will continue to share private moments with the world. Adults shuddered at the prospect of future postings of bathroom mishaps, while children called for more.
In three short weeks Kevin has offered up his vision of how modern Australian democracy should function, and it is not through quiet governance. It is by the camera, of the camera and for the camera, a formula suited to the whims and celebrity fantasies that preoccupy the social media generation, which abhors detail. Just like Rudd himself.
Carbon, boats, deficits don't get fixed - they get quickie makeovers. A slash of lipstick here and a clever line there, and problem terminated. Kevinator moves with lightning speed to the next issue before star-struck media probes too deeply or focuses on deficiencies or repercussions.
Displaying rare but commendable curiosity, Townsville ABC radio's Paula Tapiolas asked Rudd about the costs for abattoirs of his decision to replace the carbon tax with an emissions trading scheme. Before burying her in verbiage, Rudd replied he could not be expected to go through it sector by sector or business by business and he couldn't do it anyway. Why not?
John Howard and Pete Costello were expected to know the price impact on every product and every business when they introduced the GST.
Later, at the press conference to announce the changes, Rudd repeatedly assured families they would be $380 "per year" better off. When a journalist queried whether it was in fact just for one year, his Treasurer had to get the pooper scooper out. For Kevin the importance of the occasion resides in being there, not being across the facts.
Because he removed Julia Gillard and made Labor competitive again, Rudd has been forgiven behaviour which would otherwise be deemed intolerable. Keeping the conga line of diplomats waiting outside the Lodge in the Canberra cold to pay homage at the court of Kevin would have wrought condemnation from every quarter for either being disrespectful or way too up hisselfie, even if some of the ambassadors were willing props.
The media have been very kind to Kevin, tolerating and promoting his talent for endless distractions, which is even more finely honed now than it was the first time around, and which is paying the same kind of early dividends as it did the first time around too. His standing in the polls is proof of his success in amusing and bamboozling. It also underscores Tony Abbott's inability to consolidate his standing as alternative prime minister. If Rudd's success is rooted in campaigning - not governing - then Abbott's lies in his ability to exploit the flaws and foibles of others. Rather, it used to. He has had trouble getting a proper bead on Rudd.
Rudd exudes confidence, his determined cheerfulness in public hiding for a time the trail of policy wreckage, backflips and shattered careers behind him. Abbott destroys prime ministers with lethal force, yet people remain unconvinced this qualifies him to do the job himself. He remains unable to sell his own credentials as a solid administrator and generally decent human being.
Rudd looks and sounds ready for battle, the Kevinator shape-shifter on speed, whereas Abbott, as well as looking discomfited by the turn of events, seems worn down by the prospect of having to kill Kevin again.
Asked what Abbott needed to do this time around, one senior Liberal offered up one word of advice for his boss: "Relax."
Rudd is practised at masking his feelings in public, whereas Abbott's are written all over his face.
Liberals still believe they can win, albeit with a much reduced margin now, speculating a 10 seat majority remains within reach. They do not even whisper about Malcolm, not yet. Time is Abbott's enemy and friend as it is Rudd's.
If Rudd surges ahead in the polls, he would be neglecting his responsibilities as leader - and reneging on his pre-coup undertakings to listen to colleagues - not to call the election immediately. If he doesn't and he waits, there are grave risks.
The first is that he will struggle to keep a lid on the hatreds inside Labor. Apart from the obvious stuff-up with the naive young diplomat, the withdrawal of candidates to give Gillard's preferred choice a clear run for her seat of Lalor was described by one insider as an exercise in keeping the peace. Those who have spoken to the former prime minister report she is "in a very bad way".
The second reason Rudd won't want to wait too long is that it could give Abbott the time he needs to tear him down, or if he can't, then Liberals might - repeat, might - be tempted to emulate Labor and replace their unpopular leader with the popular one. Nothing is beyond the realms of possibility. Rudd hisself proves it.
(Footnote: the documentary was later renamed In Bed with Madonna).


  • Cath of Melville Posted at 12:43 AM Today
    Oh please NO Nikki Savva, don't go giving him ideas - IN BED WITH KEVIN??? Arrggh ...
    Comment 1 of 31
  • Altered of Esperance Posted at 12:47 AM Today
    Finally, an article of yours I can agree with Niki. I don't know if you have noticed though how much of an effort it is for Rudd to hold the facade together this time, as indicated by the involuntary life of his lower lip. We now have two 'Leaders' who appear as tightly strung as violin strings. I wonder who will break first. I agree that Rudd's treatment of the diplomats was horrendous. How can someone even behave like that. The Queen I could understand but a Prime Minister?
    Comment 2 of 31
  • Maggie Qld Posted at 1:04 AM Today
    Nikki things are interesting but out here in the real world young people are concerned about their jobs with bosses warning of political uncertainty and lack of trust if Rudd should cross the line. Abbott needs to stay focused and not play Kevin's silly games, he must remain true to himself and his team. Kev wants a debate so the people can choose so how about he calls an election. By the way I was mortified to see the line of diplomats waiting to shake Kevin's hand. What a damned embarrassment he is. He cannot change the carbon tax, he cannot stop the boats and the deaths because his heart is not in it, too hard, let someone else fix the problem and as for his attempt to change Labor it will all turn to dust. Remember the lap tops, the grocery watch, John Button's funeral, all the careers he has wrecked for self aggrandisement and the media are falling over themselves to kiss his feet.
    Comment 3 of 31
  • Simonzee of Perth WA Posted at 1:30 AM Today
    People love entertainment and Rudd is quite a spectacle. If you like the drama section Rudd is in a few titles "Dancing With the Faceless Men" and the Non fiction Section "Abbott Proof Fence." Then there's the Fiction Section, "Rudd flew over the Cuckoo's Nest Twice" andd under the Adult Section "U.N diplomacy Stripped Bare: Late nights at the Gentleman's Club, and "In Bed with the Faceless Men." Finally under the classics section we have "Full Of the Wind," and under Comedy the Spaghetti Western section, "Return of Shanghai Rudd," "The Crazy Bunch," "My name is Nobody," and finally "Watch out We're Mad." This is why Rudd is so popular because he definitely takes the dull out of politics. Voters might want to mull over what a disater ge has been as they put his entertainment qualities aside. Running this country is more than entertainment and drama it is strength of character, leadership and teamwork.
    Comment 4 of 31
  • dexxter of melbourne Posted at 1:49 AM Today
    Whilst initially pleased to see Rudd back, it has become Rudd overkill - every news story no matter how silly, every photo op, but....still no substance. Boats arrive every day as a result of his flawed policy changes, he cannot guarantee delivery of the carbon tax termination and we continue to pay. Time for the election before the welcome wears very thin.
    Comment 5 of 31
  • boadica of qld Posted at 3:49 AM Today
    I applaud you for being honest about the true intent of Rudd and pointing out that he quite clearly concentrates on brainwashing the younger voters. How refreshing to read your column, especially as we have to put up with the ABC/SBS, together with the rest of the fawning media giving air to Rudd's nonsense. It is now imperative that people stay alert to the sham performance which Rudd is so adept at giving, and see the man for what he really is, a menace to Australia and society. A man who does not care for the nation, only himself. I deplore all of the ministers for being so compliant and willing to sell their souls for power. The ALP is nothing but a force for socialist domination and the ruination of Australia. Election NOW.
    Comment 6 of 31
  • Lauza Posted at 4:22 AM Today
    Abbott is my pick for PM. He has strength of character and is one of the toughest opposition leaders we have had in genertions. He has grown in the last couple of years and I can see him as a John Howard. I'm not interested in show ponies- Turnbull is also one. I want a man of integrity and Abbott is my pick.
    Comment 7 of 31
  • lazza from gold coast Posted at 4:35 AM Today
    You are right Nikki, the media do have a lot to answer for by not taking Rudd to task for his obvious ineptitude and policy vacuum.
    Comment 8 of 31
  • Emmie Posted at 5:44 AM Today
    That the sycophantic media continue to play to KRudd's games is truly worrying. Don't they understand their role is to ask the hard questions and to scrutinize? Hardy a surprise that general community respect for journalists is about the same as a used car salesman.
    Comment 9 of 31
  • Kate of Brisbane Posted at 5:52 AM Today
    "Rudd has been forgiven behaviour which would otherwise be deemed intolerable." So far. Rudd can talk the talk but at some stage he will have to deliver. And what we'll get is confused and ill thought out policy decisions that don't do what they're supposed to but will cost us a lot of money. It will be a disaster. Hopefully voters will realise this before it's too late.
    Comment 10 of 31
  • Salvatore DiGiovanni Posted at 5:58 AM Today
    Niki you say in your article the press has been kind to Rudd fair dinkum Abbbott has no pressure from the press since becoming leader of the opposition. The fact remains that whatever we may think of Mr Rudd he is very popular with the voters and there is no doubt in my mind that if Rudd goes to an election later this year the libs will replace Abbott for turnbull
    Comment 11 of 31
  • Glen of Indooroopilly Posted at 6:01 AM Today
    I just don't understand why the electorate is falling for this show pony. There's nothing genuine about him. Those in the know behind the scenes, in Caucus, especially those who took a second chance with him ie hated him but voted for him anyway just to keep their jobs, must be holding their collective breath and biding their time until they can get rid of him - again. They know better than most that he is all show and cannot deliver on his rhetoric. It's not as if they owe him anything. He's not doing this for them or for the Labor Party. Rudd is only interested in himself.
    Comment 12 of 31
  • Ivan Posted at 6:18 AM Today
    This is shallowness versus substance, the Aussie voter is hopefully fully aware of how Krudd operates.
    Comment 13 of 31
  • JennyF of Forest Lake Posted at 6:38 AM Today
    I can't see how anyone could be taken in by Rudd. The whole Rudd playschool doesn't say much for Australia voters.
    Comment 14 of 31
  • Alex McDonnel of Toowoomba Posted at 6:38 AM Today
    Good observations, Nikki. Abbott looks like he's been pole-axed and stumbling in the dark. As you suggest, if Rudd delays the election there is risk for both him and Abbott. The idea of Turnbull being reborn must be a topic around Menzies House.
    Comment 15 of 31
  • Bill M of CAIRNS Posted at 6:41 AM Today
    Most if not all of Kevvy's announcements are unachievable in the current parliament, and most likely in the next one as well. A hostile Senate dominated by the Greens is in no mood to undo the carbon tax. Nor will the ALP National Conference overturn 100 years of self serving tradition to limit union and factional domination for a system where they can't give President Kevvy the boot. Most likely, Billy "The Knife" Shorten is just waiting in the wings until Kevvy gets them all over the line. After all, they have form on this. Sadly, the Canberra Press Gallery seem determined to not ask Kevvy any questions that would illuminate the farce that the Govt has become. And still, the boats keep coming, people keep drowning, the deficits keep getting bigger, businesses keep going to the wall, people are battling with living costs, but hey, no worries, Kevvy cut himself with his razor!!....Please!
    Comment 16 of 31
  • mad mick of camden Posted at 6:44 AM Today
    I just don't get it I think you have explained this mess pretty well. Rudd is a disaster, he is a very flawed person and he is the leader of our country. All the stuff ups that are going on now are pretty much his doing. With his record of failure no one with any brains would give him a job. But the Australia electorate look like giving him the top job in the country. This is really scary stuff. What's next Emperor Kevin 1, he has already taken on one trait of Napoleon by giving his son a top job. What's next he has already indicated the possibility of War with Indonesia. He truly is a man with a star a man of destiny, and he is going to save Australia from a disaster even if he has to create it himself.
    Comment 17 of 31
  • johno Posted at 6:46 AM Today
    Turnbull was a proven failure as Opposition Leader and Tony is a proven success - two PMs have been rolled by their own Party while he has opposed them and Labor was very nearly thrown out after one term. If Liberal MPs have good judgement, they will stick with Tony.
    Comment 18 of 31
  • Don't be shy of Melbourne Posted at 7:02 AM Today
    Nikki seems to have lost her mojo after Gillard's exit - careful what you wish for. Doesn't have the same glorious self- righteousness to her writing when Kevin is the subject. Perhaps she and her MSM mates who churned out daily diatribes on Gillard could turn their attention to the floundering albatross that is Abbott, given he now has a preferred PM ranking miles behind Rudd. This is clearly causing concern for the LNP as they pursue the strategy of an ever shrinking target. The more he talks the less he is liked and the more Turnbull talks the more he is liked. A truly interesting situation in terms of strategy and in need of that Savva wit to shed light on why Abbott is so unpopular and how LNP should play it. And pigs have wings.
    Comment 19 of 31
  • Vince of Sydney Posted at 7:07 AM Today
    Good article but I have noticed with Rudd the old saying 'give him enough rope' applies, time is his enemy and already I sense some of the paint is starting to lose its shine. The boats are coming quicker now because even the people smugglers get the sense that their fortunes will change when the government does, the car industry is concerned with the revenue grab to fill the budget carbon hole that Labor created, the mining sector has raised concerns with the floating price, the community will become concerned with the uncertainty of a floating price being linked to Euro economies that don't resemble Australia's while Euro economic management is questionable at best....Kevin 747 will need to call the election quick while the electorate is still hypnotized by the blitzkrieg that he has launched because once the media wash the fairy dust out of their eyes and the merry dance he has led them ends they will scrutinise his policies and the consequences of them, he will be held to account then and as the tide turns he will be remembered as the best self promoter this country has ever seen with multiple offers for employment in used car lots post politics.
    Comment 20 of 31
  • Annie of Hunter NSW Posted at 7:10 AM Today
    A great article Nikki. (Where HAVE you been?) Sadly most of the "Mall" people will not read it. Who cannot forget the time during the QLD floods, when there he was, with trousers rolled up, and suitcase on head, wading thru the waves, (I wonder if the amazed owners of the suitcase ever got it back) then there was the time he invited the press to the Vets, to picture him with his ailing cat, which later died, (most would consider that a private moment, with a much loved pet) but not our Kev. As for the some of the press who are behaving strangely, I imagine getting Kev over the line, as they are obviously trying to do, sets them up for three more years of dysfunctional Govt. which in turn, sells stories and papers. One would imagine they would have some concern for their country, going on past experiences as none can deny, but it would appear quick term gain is more important. I think once Rudd calls a election, Abbott will come out of his present mode, just letting Kev, talk, preen, and bovine manure his way around. Then he will pounce, and come on hard, not allowing Rudd to waffle on, but to actually be accountable to the electorate. One can only pray.
    Comment 21 of 31
  • Owen Bytheway of Sarina Posted at 7:17 AM Today
    The surprising thing with all this is how leaden footed the Coalition has been in trying to deal with the fast moving Rudd. The Coalition sing the same old lines from the Coalition songbook- same old slogans, no new stuff just the moronic chant "we will stop the boats"
    Comment 22 of 31
  • lmwd of Qld Posted at 7:18 AM Today
    You have summed up the situation perfectly with respect to Rudd and his tactics. If, heaven-forbid, Labor squeak in for another 3 years, then Australians deserve what they get for being fooled a second time. Abbott had Rudd's measure last time and Rudd was sliding in the polls for all the same reasons you have outlined currently. He's a hollow man and the voters were seeing through him. Sooner or later the current Rudd-hype loving media will begin to do its job properly. I trust Abbott as an intelligent man (you have to have some serious horse-power under the bonnet to be a Rhodes Scholar) and decent human being who seems motivated to do the best by ordinary Australians and our most disadvantaged (his work with Indigenous people). We need solid governance and pragmatic decision-making. Turnbull is a smoother communicator, but he should have been Labor (of the inner city well-healed 'progressive' kind). He lost the Liberal leadership because he went against what the majority of his team believed in and showed a willingness to jump on a popular but ill-informed bandwagon. I believe he was more motivated by looking after his merchant banker mates. I don't see him as principled.
    Comment 23 of 31
  • Joan Posted at 7:18 AM Today
    Rudd spin and stunt has sure got media and some voters heads in such a spin that they think that a vote for Rudd is a vote for a Rudd Party of the Clive Palmer, Katter variety. As daily 6 years of Labor policy twisted , trashed, by Rudd, Rudd says that Abbott was right, right, right, and Labor got it wrong, wrong, wrong, yet media don't treat Rudd as leader of Labor party. Nothing Presidential about Rudd no real or would be world leader would send out a plastered mugshot to the world, and ridicule the head role of the country in this silly childish way. Everything about whirlwind Rudd presentation confirms Labor assessment that Rudd is ` `dysfunctional, chaotic, Jekyl Hyde`. Rudd 2013 public presentation is more extreme, eccentric than Rudd 2007 ever was.
    Comment 24 of 31
  • dagworth Posted at 7:25 AM Today
    Not Malcolm again, please! We've already witnessed one seduction of Malcolm by Kevin, two would be terrible
    Comment 25 of 31
  • Fitza of Cairns Posted at 7:31 AM Today
    The old name for narcissism, before political correctness set in, was 'megalomania'. So you hit the nail on the head with this article, Niki. As an aged pensioner, I personally struggle to understand this 'selfie' generation. Young people seem to revel in the cult of narcissism - driven no doubt, by 'Big Brother', 'X Factor', plus movie and rock stars living their life online. Hard for Abbott to compete, as his personality aligns more closely with my generation. Another problem for Abbott, is that he embraced things like a paid parental leave scheme far too quickly and now, a lot of voters in the middle are finding it hard to tell the difference between the two main parties, in my personal opinion. The one thing that could Rudd undone, is he is living his life through social media to such an extent, he forgets the anger out there in the real world against illegal boat arrivals, the carbon tax Most of us want this
    Comment 26 of 31
  • Helen of Sydney Posted at 7:37 AM Today
    Why do we have to have this emphasis on the leader? It drives me nuts. It's the collective group of OUR representatives who make it work. What about who is the best team to run out country and who is best at economics? If you don't have a well managed economy, how we can we prosper?
    Comment 27 of 31
  • Harry Redmond of Australia Posted at 7:39 AM Today
    Another rousing article by a great Liberal stalwart
    Comment 28 of 31
  • Rob 379 of Sydney CBD Posted at 7:47 AM Today
    You seem to forget the silent majority is still out there. We just simply don't believe Mr Rudd or Labor. They have lied to us for as long as they have been in Government. Ms Gillard started with a knifing and ended with a knifing. Mr Rudd had previously lost his way and is now simply full of hot air. The Greens seem to have turned nasty. The Independents - well where are they? The silent majority will vote Labor out.
    Comment 29 of 31
  • Professor Ratbaggy of Bovine University Posted at 7:48 AM Today
    Arfur Daley wouldn't buy a sauce bottle shaker from Krudd as he can smell an obvious rip off.
    Comment 30 of 31
  • Pat of Nsw Posted at 7:49 AM Today
    Spot on again, Nikki. Only a catastrophe will bring the Australian society to its senses. To follow the example of the American Model will be a rude awakening - then they will only appreciate what they have lost. I watch sadly as I see my grandchildren immersed in social media and I emphasise 'children', I wince as I see the impact of technology on our way of life. See ing Kevin in action (well not much really as we switch him off) only emphasises what the Gillard government and Labor have done to our country. Her obsession with gender and his narcissism point to the emptiness of their lives. No wonder she is reported to be in a bad way. The ALP need to lose this election, they need time to think. Tony Abbott will bring a strong and sure pair of hands to governing our country. His personal ethics, his discipline his commitment, his honesty are all on record. He is the right man for these times.
    Comment 31 of 31

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