On the Malcolms

Okay, look, I’ve got a bit too much time on my hands at the moment, but here’s the thing about the Prime Ministers, Malcolm.

Them, I do not trust.

It seems to me that we are all being seduced by Malcolm the Turnbull’s charms for reasons including, and pretty much limited to, the fact that he is not Tony Abbott.

Let me be clear: Tony Abbott is an odious man. Okay, I’ve never met him, I don’t know him personally. As a general principle-to-live-by I try to be generous of spirit and of kind and I try not to judge people and certainly not harshly. Maybe I should rephrase my clarity: Tony Abbott’s politics are odious to me. And I’m pretty sure that if I met him, he would be odious to me. The sense of elation I felt the night that he was defeated cannot be understated.

Let me be clear: Malcolm the Turnbull is a most attractive man. Handsome, elegant, smart and fun. He shows love and respect for his partner. His smile? Oh, my lord. Let us all be seduced by his charm. Where’s the harm? But let me be clear on this as well: Malcolm Turnbull’s politics are odious to me.

I have to remind myself to separate those things. The charming man. His odious politics. A vote for one is a vote for the other too.

I think perhaps there is something in the name. Malcolm. It’s an almost awkward name, the two syllables separated as they are by that click that’s not quite in your throat. Awkward, but perhaps it carries some enchantment, a bewitching. Casting a spell of which we are aware but happy to give in to.

I know I am increasingly alone in this, but Malcolm the Fraser I have not forgiven. I know that we all admire his recent (and not-so-recent, in fact, his altogether consistent) adherence to the principles of human rights. He talked the talk, but he walked the walk as well.

But here’s the thing: adherence to the principles of human rights is baseline. It’s the cake, it’s not the icing. It’s what our leaders should be doing. I mean good on him for standing firm and speaking out. But so he should have. He was just doing the right thing.

For me, what looms larger, his actual legacy, is the dismissal of Gough Whitlam. And this is not just some romantic nostalgia for Gough, though I’ll admit to some of that. I think we have to take seriously the disrespect that Malcolm the Fraser showed for our democracy. Such little respect for our democratic process. Such little respect for us. I have no scientific proof of course, but how can that Born to Rule mentality not be with us still?

I’m not saying that we should be hating on a man who isn’t here to defend himself. I’m not saying we should throw eggs at his headstone. He did a bad thing, but I don’t think he’s evil. Or even odious. I’m just saying that in our gratitude to people for not being Tony Abbott we should not kid ourselves that they are something greater than they are.

The Prime Ministers, Malcolm.

Our rage, it must be maintained.

3 thoughts on “On the Malcolms”

  1. malcolm is my mp so I’ve had exposure to him over many years – school fetes, local paper, letters, and of course I send him emails and get replies on various issues. He is what he is: socially progressive (hosts HIV fundraisers in his home) but essentially a man of big business. He represents the richest electorate in Australia. His role in having the SBS journalist sacked over Anzac Day comments was terrible. Beware, do not be sucked in.

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