3 December 2003

Another patsy? Dream on, PM

Those with doubts must surely have known Labor had got it right politically as soon as the House got down to business after lunch yesterday. Latham by then had been leader a mere four hours.

Yet from the moment the Speaker opened proceedings, some of the Government's most senior ministers, with John Howard leading, were railing away at Latham as if the devil himself had suddenly appeared in their midst. And, of course, for them he had.

Even before this, Howard and the Nationals' John Anderson, a nice man but another political dunce, made soothing noises about poor Simon and dear Kim and their wives and families in a too-cute show of Government concern for their former punching bags' welfare and future. It was all such a charade.

The Government's obvious strategy to paint the two Labor losers as good men and true, both of them experienced ministers and parliamentarians, whom their party has turned its back on for this dreadful tyro with the foul mouth, is just a blind for what is, suddenly, all their nightmares possibly come true.

Despite the bravado, Latham scares the bejesus out of the Coalition. He really does. He is not another Labor leadership patsy and the Government knows it. Whatever you've heard and whatever self-serving hysteria the Government goes on beating up, Latham is the real thing. He is not Simon the dead or Kim the wimp.

He might well crash and burn one day, but if he does it will be because he's trying like blazes and not because he's sitting there, like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting to get run over.

I watched question time. Naturally as soon as Iron Mark sat down I found myself dozing, then dreaming about sometime in 2005...

HOWARD DEAN: Did you really call your predecessor an arse-licker to George Bush?

MARK LATHAM: Yes, Mr President. I called him a suckhole too. Of course, once I was opposition leader I had to stop using crudity.

DEAN: I'm told you had things to say about my predecessor too.

LATHAM: All I said he was 'the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory'.

DEAN: Yeah, actually fighting your opponent doesn't get you anywhere, does it?

Now this might not be a very civil dream, but it felt like a good idea at the time.

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