Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, June 05, 2004
IN SURPRISE NEWS YESTERDAY a politician answered a question from an Australian reporter honestly, and was told by our Auntie that he should have shut up.

President Bush was accused of interfering in Australian domestic politics by stating US policy on Iraq in response to a question from an Australian journalist quoting an Australian politician.

According to Auntie's communards, President Bush was supposed to respond to the question on the consequences of abandoning the infant Iraqi government by saying

- that's cool, Steve, if you think so, or

- I have a very strong view on the consequences of abandoning Iraq's new government to the jackals snapping at its throat, but I won't tell you because Mr Mark Latham in Australia has already declared the ALP policy on that matter, to the effect that nothing more than food and bandages are required, and diplomacy demands that I not contradict him. Sorry if that makes me appear piss-weak and secretive.

Auntie's World Today news program was outraged.

"Bush gets involved in Australian politics" she headlined her spinning of the subject, ignoring the fact that Bush spoke on US policy on a matter on which Latham had chosen to dissent.

Auntie has never headlined Latham's view that US policy is loony with the headline: Latham intervenes in US politics.

The spin went on:
As we've heard, many have called this an unprecedented intervention into Australian politics

editorialised Eleanor Hall's script, attributing its opinion to the indefinite subject 'many', who appears to play a dominant part in the formation of ABC editorial policy.

The nearest Auntie has come to identifying this 'many' is ex-diplomat Cavan Hogue, who was chased to his retirement home on the north coast to demonstrate the political judgment and objectivity for which his class is famous.
CAVAN HOGUE: I thought it was going a bit far. I mean, you know, you could, if you wanted to be a bit Jesuitical, you could say that Latham had asked for this by saying he was the worst President the US had ever had, a judgment which many Americans would agree with, I should add, but a that time he was not even leader of the Opposition, let alone President of a country.

You see that well-known political guru 'many' has been advising Hogue as well as Auntie.

In her supporting print coverage, Henny Herald found a similar statement from former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dick Woolcott who said:
"What the President has said has gone very close to intervening in our domestic politics in an election atmosphere .."

Woolcott is too cunning to point out that the election 'atmosphere' doesn't amount to an election campaign period, or that the 'atmosphere' is very much the making of Media Mark himself, or that Media Mark chose to undermine US Iraq policy in an obvious attempt to attract easy votes.

Where would the promoters of the woollier kind leftismism be without retired diplomats? They'd have to invent them.

IN THE REAL WORLD, other journalists were resisting the reflexive anti-Yankism of the Labor left and the ABC.

According to The Australian's Paul Kelly:
Australians can support or attack Bush's Iraq policy. But it is absurd to expect Bush to gag himself - to shut up when he thinks Labor's policy will damage US interests lest he be seen to interfere in our politics.

To attack Bush for an unholy intervention in Australian politics is to miss the bigger question - why did Bush intervene and what does it mean?

The answer lies in Latham's new policy on Iraq, announced last April. The Bush administration sees Latham's policy as a direct strike against the US project in Iraq, as a blow to improving security on the ground and as a reckless encouragement to the terrorists who demand the exit of foreign forces as they sabotage Iraq's transition.

MARK LATHAM DEMONSTRATES THE COURAGE OF DAVID against Bush's Goliath, by refusing to front the media to respond to Bush's comments. Instead a piece of paper was issued from his office, but it was a courageous piece of paper.

Latham defies Bush on Iraq says Henny Herald's Louise Dodson, whose politicjudgmentent can be deduced from her later comment that Bush's statement was
...unprecedented in its directness and vitriol.

and her summary of the history of Australia's foreign policy, which must surely be the most ignorant comment written in any Australian newspaper not excluding the Dimboola Bugle, for several days:
Where once Australia primarily looked to self-defence and playing a role in the region as a small to medium power, it now has global ambitions

Forget the Sudan War, the Boer War, the first World War, the second World War, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War, and Afghanistan, and any other wars I've forgotten, in all of which Australia played a role as part of a global or imperial force.