14 November, 2014

Kicking the can down the Rhodes

For those of you who were born yesterday, came down in the last shower, or just arrived from an interstellar journey, Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is not the sharpest crayon in the packet. Show me anyone who says differently and I’ll show you someone who has a political agenda. “He’s a Rhodes Scholar!” they will say, but so are Bob Hawke, Bill Clinton, Kim Beazley and Malcolm Turnbull. The difference between Mr Abbott and those other political Rhodes Scholars is that whatever you may think of them, their knowledge and intelligence is self-evident. Their supporters never have to cite a Rhodes Scholarship as a counter-argument to any popular perception that they’re a bit dim.

Abbott’s humble intellect is so self-evident that providing regular updates of examples just seems like piling on. I mean, once you’ve claimed that Australia was “unsettled” before 1788 (um, we don’t regard Aboriginal Australians as native fauna any more, Tony), then failed to learn from the mistake and repeated the comment today, then undiplomatic language about the Russian president and flubbing the rehearsed follow-up line is no real surprise.

Like the “unsettled” idiocy, and his unforgivably ignorant assertion that Australians “admired the skill and the sense of honour,” of the Japanese in World War II (and to think his government complains about how history is taught), once in a while he comes out with a brain fart even lower than our greatly diminished expectations of him.

From the beginning of his time as party leader, Abbott’s opposition to doing anything about climate change has been based largely on the fact that the world’s biggest polluters, the USA and China had no clear policy on the issue, so what could little old Australia do? God forbid we should actually set an example for anyone. Now that Presidents Obama and Xi have announced an accord to reduce carbon emissions, Tony Abbott has lost his best excuse and is left humiliated on the wrong side of history. And when asked about the inferiority, by comparison, of his give polluters a shitload of money and hope they do the right thing “direct action” plan, Mr Abbott said:
“I welcome the agreement. As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re doing now.”
So this Rhodes Scholar, this man who received some of the best education in the world, not only thinks that Australia was uninhabited before British settlement, not only thinks that Australians regarded an enemy that worked POWs to death on the Burma Railway and ritually beheaded them when they couldn’t work any more, but also thinks that what may happen in the future has nothing to do with the decisions he makes today.

That’s beyond ignorant, it’s beyond stupid. It almost indicates some kind of mental impairment.

Oh, and Tony? Cecil Rhodes called. He wants his money back.*

(*Line shamelessly stolen from my dearest)


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