It’s fairly clear that Peter FitzSimons and Malcolm Turnbull are besties.
They have much in common, after all. They are both very successful authors.
They have both played major roles in the republican movement that surely will meet with ultimate success in the next 100 years or so.
They championed same-sex marriage just to show what all-round good guys they are.
Their friendship is strong enough that when Malcolm wrote in A Blank Canvas of dark moments when he threatened self-harm, Peter phoned to make sure the great man was okay. We accept it was lovely of Peter to do that for an old mate.
But there is no logical explanation as to why FitzSimons felt the need to highlight in his recent Sun-Herald column a snarly, sadsack observation of Turnbull’s (at top).
Calling it his quote of the week, FitzSimons repeated what Turnbull told 7.30: “If Dutton had become leader, not even Bill Shorten could have lost the election”.
Ouch! Can I just kindly advise FitzSimons that the two Heralds he pens for are not quite in Newscorpe territory just yet. Closing the gap fast but still a way to go.
And to remind him that there are countless Herald readers who do not feel the need to pile onto Shorten over his election losses. Who believe he would have been a very reasonable and decent PM.
Who, by the way, should have won last year’s election, according to his bestie.
In his columns over the years, FitzSimons has come across as a decent enough chap who abhors bullies. So here’s why he should have left Turnbull’s ungracious and tacky putdown alone.
Turnbull still seethes with rage that Shorten ran him close in 2016. The Silvertailed Toff will go to his grave believing he would have won that election in a landslide if not for Labor’s Mediscare campaign.
A total nonsense, really, when you consider for the entire campaign Turnbull and his ministers painted a grim picture of an apocalyptic housing market if Labor had won and implemented its housing policies, with the value of everyone’s home reduced to ashes.
But that’s Tories for you. Negative Labor scare campaigns bad; negative LNP scare campaigns fine and above board and just telling the truth.
Turnbull will also never accept the many advantages he had in office, not the least of which was the usual massive public-funded “aren’t we good!” advertising campaign before the campaign proper and the almost $2 million of his own money he threw in at the death when things looked grim.
And that was despite the slavish sycophantic support of the majority of the mainstream media that largely turned a blind eye to the Abbott/Turnbull government’s appalling economic record. Labor would have been crucified if it had presided over the same sets of figures.
And amongst all that, Turnbull’s ego will never accept that Shorten bettered him on the hustings and in their debates.
He’ll find any number of excuses to explain why he went from a massive support base when he rolled the Mad Monk to that shell of a pollie who limped across the line in 2016 and who couldn’t win a Newspoll afterwards to save his political hide.
Assuming Bill Shorten was a negative factor at both of his election losses – the ALP certainly thought so in its pathetic “whip us; we’ve been really naughty” post-2019 poll mea culpa – let’s look at why that was so and why Turnbull should take not a skerrick of pride or satisfaction from it.
Turnbull was a senior minister when the Abbott government sooled a $60 million royal commission into trade union “corruption” even though its sole purpose was to destroy Shorten and Julia Gillard.
That disgraceful misuse of taxpayer money for selfish political advantage – the RC found no criminality whatsoever on Shorten’s part – was followed up by years of clinical dehumanisation of Shorten that would have made Goebells proud.
In Question Time after Question Time, Shorten was depicted as a slimy snake slithering towards the Lodge, a perpetual liar who trampled on worker rights for his own selfish personal ends, a sycophantic brown-nosing crawler who wanted to put his legs under the tables of billionaires where they did not belong.
Turnbull, the man who will always sees himself as awash with charisma, class and a surfeit of style, got down in the gutter with the worst of them. Spat bile across the chamber every chance he got.
In the end, it cost him dearly and the Australian public finally saw him for what he really was with his drunken, self-pitying and totally ungracious speech late on election night.
Yet here he is, years later, still peddling the myth that Shorten was basically an unelectable political lightweight compared with his unparalled political genius.
Sorry, FitzSimons, but for you to see merit in repeating Turnbull’s cheap shot shows a disregard for the almost 50% of voters in 2016 who thought Shorten would have been quite okay as the nation’s leader, and suggests perhaps that something’s a little wrong with your thought processes too if you think it’s okay to join any Shorten pile-on.
Too many knocks in that seven Test rugby career of yours?
Or is that red bandana just a little too tight for clear, considered and fair-minded thought?