Cross Posting from Menzies House
A Weeper’s convention
The politics of tears.
Viewing the teary deliveries from our federal politicians during question time about the sinking of people smuggler’s boats, I might have been watching the annual convention of weepers. Weepers were professional mourners that trailed the coffin through the streets during the 1400s.
I do not make light of those drowning in our northern seas but I do make light of the tears of politics. It’s all very touching but, as proven yet again, so unproductive. While the weepers were united in tear, they remained in acrimonious disunity about how to stop boat people from embarking on such perilous journeys.
On that day of parliamentary weepers, the public gallery held a very important person and two impressionable groups. Given mention to parliament by the PM was one of the last, surviving RAAF veterans of the revered Bomber Command, Ted Malmgren DFC, who flew 31 sorties over Europe during WWII. He may well have shed a tear for his nation being led by a chamber of buffoons. The other groups were school children bussed in to experience the workings of their national leaders. An unruly kindergarten of the ill mannered might have been their impression.
Politics of tears is nothing new. Time Magazine used it in a 2007 edition when artist Tim O’Brien inserted an obviously fake tear on the face of Ronald Reagan—albeit years too late for political gain. The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher never wailed publicly but did show a tear in her eye when she vacated 10 Downing St. for the last time. Nevertheless, great leaders such as Winston Churchill, Eisenhower, and General Macarthur never blubbered in public. Hitler would have laughed himself to death.
The Australian ethos that forged this nation once owned the catch-cry, “soldiers never cry.” It was preached to kids when they came running home with a broken arm. But that stiff, upper lip cure-all vanished along with backyard incinerators and tree houses. To fill a social void in the 60s and 70s came an army of unemployed PhD’s masquerading as new-wave shrinks plying the “touchy feely” cure. It was more fun tinkering with drug-damaged minds of the LSD acolytes rather than the hard yards in search of cancer cure. Those mind benders in league with the PC brigade convinced hairy, singlet-wearing, truckies that it was cool to blubber any time, any where—it was supposed to win the hearts of women, if not a right bagging from their mates at the pub.
Now that Aussie blokes have soul-searched and are now “in touch” with their inner feelings, the big, bronzed surf lifesavers of yore are but reveries as is the dusty, old, Lee-Enfield 303 parked behind the kitchen door. My recent visit to Manly offered a bunch of pasty chaps dressed as lifesavers but looking more like victims of a water diet gone wrong. Look at some of today’s coppers; carbon copies of the “weakling” on the Charles Atlas comic ads. Send two-bob and escape that emaciated physique, said Mr Atlas.
Regardless, the experiment from lusty blokes to timid sheilas is complete. Australia now enjoys (read, suffers) a plethora of dewy-eyed political performers with none better that Labor’s great thespian, the wily Bob Hawke who often deployed sympathy winning sobs, frequently without cause.
Another Rhodes Scholar of the tear-jerk academy was Kim Beasley. Blubber-puss Beasley elevated public bawling to an art form. Thousands of television viewers reached for the barf-bag and tissue box every night at six o’clock. And, who will forget then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh whose tears added to the Brisbane floods? I suggest her sobs were in anticipation of the inevitable jettison from office for rotten performance, which did occur with the empty vault revealed and massive debt.
Back in parliament one after another from both sides of the house rose to out trump the previous performer with longer, more drawn out silent passages of grief as colleagues passed the Kleenex. Although, not a sniffling thought for the 925 million starving people around the world. I know not if death by a single inhalation of water is better than a slow death by starvation—our pollies must know. Second-rate actors; all of them.
It was MsGillard’s impersonation of a stilted android that stole the show with parroted soto voce, admonishing all to shame with her plea to immediately solve the immigration crisis, “in this place, here, and now,” all the while dead-set certain that squabbling would prevail until 4am to achieve narda.
I suppose on the minds of many, if not most, in that chamber would be travel arrangements for those jetting from Australia next day to a mix of destinations. “Study sessions,” they call it; sitting on the beach in Spain, slurping sangria at taxpayers’ expense while “studying” Spain’s bankruptcy is easier than solving what the Howard government solved years ago so effectively.
A lesson was indeed learned by the school children in the parliamentary gallery that day, albeit confusing as they saw the entire act in raw, unrehearsed play. Intransigence, hypocrisy, crocodile-tears, maladministration and deceit and more. No wonder politicians rate second last on the most distrusted profession scale. Those poor kids!
Thought for the week: Discard fake people for good reasonss, not good people for fake reasons.