Reasonable voters have no truck with smooth-talk and marvellous hair. Reasonable voters see past political expression and through to the policy this works to conceal. Reasonable voters have diminished hope of survival against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull whose charming unreason charmed the reasonable pants off a nation twice Monday morning.
To be honest, my own trousers are briefly out for dry-cleaning after the new PM’s performance on Nine and on Seven. I may have previously thought of this man as the wicked issue of Oprah and F.A Hayek and, truly, I still do. But, with each informed crack about House of Cards and every other shrewd signal that he was a man of this century — like that’s a good thing — I fluttered.
I could never permit this romance into the ballot box because my grandparents, Melbourne socialists still angry with B.A Santamaria at the time of their death, would rise to disturb me. But, not everyone is haunted by the grave of the left and our silver-tongued PMILF should easily talk his way beyond reason and into a second term.
These are not just poll spikes we are seeing but the neoliberal sword on which we will skewer ourselves until that date when we are so enslaved to Turnbull’s “free” market, we are less a nation state than a minor clause in an international trade agreement and our only means of survival is either becoming intellectual copyright lawyers or eating our family members — not dissimilar pursuits.
Turnbull is our most convincing political speaker since Howard and the funniest since Keating. That he can sell very old, and very dodgy, ideas on a self-regulating market as spanking new is to his great credit as a salesman.
His “twenty-first century cabinet” was sold with a level of marketing skill rarely seen outside the IKEA catalogue. This is, as Bill Shorten, says, the same political furniture in a new configuration — the reasonable voter would know that the chief business of government is economic management and that economic management will remain largely unchanged under Turnbull. But, Shorten is our least convincing political speaker since Billy McMahon and our unfunniest since Howard. He cannot do what Turnbull does and seem like a guest so grateful for our hospitality, he is always ready with bon mots.
When Kochie asked him Monday morning if he and his chic political wife Lucy could be compared to Frank and Clare Underwood of House of Cards, he replied no, “other than we both use a rowing machine”. He continued, “And, it has been noted I’ve got a different model. I have one of the more traditional ones.”
God, he’s good. Not only did he upturn the criticism that his public Underwood cheer conceals his private Underwood malice, he seized the opportunity to demonstrate that he is (a) unlikely to purchase fancy exercise equipment and (b) very familiar with the Netflix catalogue.
The only person likely to find this presentation galling is Rupert Murdoch. And Rupert, who would prefer Netflix and all other opposition to his profit legislated out of existence, has already made his disdain for Malcolm plain. If there is a single reason to feel good about Malcolm’s ascension, it is the aversion Murdoch has for it and the super-fun way his employees echo his threat to their pay-cheques.
News Corp might continue to punish him, but Malcolm looks set for victory in any case. As publicly brilliant with Lisa on Today as he was with Kochie on Sunrise, he revisited the sunny message that had risen last week. When Wilkinson asked him about the serious dispute with the cultural right of his party, he asked her “Why are you so negative?” and reminded her it was a beautiful morning.
This is Malcolm’s beautiful morning. When he moved last week from Abbott’s tedious reminders that “Team Australia” needed to be very afraid of most things to the “There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today”, he courted a new kind of unreasonable voter. We’d prefer to be unreasonably charmed than unreasonably frightened.
The signs, not the evidence, of rebirth are everywhere. I counted the word “renewal” so often in the announcement of his cabinet reshuffle, that I was reminded of ‘70s sci-fi kitsch Logan’s Run. In this picturesque dystopia, citizens of a world that can no longer sustain them are rewarded by the state with “renewal”, which, as it turns out, is nothing but a sentence of death.
Still. If we and the planet that produced us will all wither anyhow, where’s the harm in being proud of a leader who comports himself like a leader? Let us go gently into a good night with a false promise of morning. Let us be happy with our unreason and the eloquent, bright means that Malcolm uses to court it. Renewal!