|Deal? What deal?|
My father once said that his definition of an intelligent man was one who
could hate someone without them even knowing. That doesn't really apply
to politicians - but the converse probably does: The definition of a really
stupid politicians is one who thinks that there is someone, somewhere who likes
him. Politicians are so unlikable, it's hard to imagine even a marriage partner
liking a politician - or even their kids. Their dog might like them, but that
doesn't really qualify.
And political marriages are not that different to other kind - an inseparable
couple who clearly despise each other and yet dutifully give their most
practiced smiles and then say the worst thing about each other which they think
they can get away with.
No-one really knew why Peter (Smirky) Costello and Little Johnny had been doing
that for the last 12 years. There were, of course, rumors - but there are
always rumors in politics, and no-one pays them any attention unless they
involve politicians having sex with each other. And no-one really believes that
Little Johnny has sex. His kids must have been a series of indiscretions on the
part of Janette or something.
But it seems that 12 years ago Smirky and Little Johnny had a conversation in
which Johnny indicated his intention to hand over the keys to The Lodge to
Smirky after two electoral terms - a conversation which guaranteed Smirky's
support and loyalty - for two terms.
Lesser men might have considered this a deal.
So a younger, less experienced, but still ambitious Smirky looked forward to
moving into The Lodge (well, Kirribilli house anyway) after two terms of
managing the nation's tax booty. But he didn't count on something that few
would have predicted - that Little Johnny would do such a good job, and enjoy
so much popular and political support he no longer needed Smirky's support. All
Johnny had to do was put on his 'Honest John' look and say 'Deal? What
deal?'. Smirky had that sharp pain in his back which only politicians can
And the wound has been festering ever since. Like the story of the mermaid who
had to smile even though she was walking on knives, Smirky had to smile while
suffering the slings and arrows of a thousand humiliations from a handicapped,
short bald man with the charisma of a defective bathplug.
That must be why he has such a hard time putting a sincere smile on his face.
After the deal was made public, Australia quickly split into two camps:
- Those who screamed 'John Howard Forever' - a worthy sentimement, but
Johnny is not actually getting any younger.
- Those who screamed for John Howard to resign immediately - presumably so
that the Governor General can appoint Bob Brown as interim Prime Minister.
But no-one was actually calling for the appointment of Smirky. And after a
gentle dressing down (and a polite but firm 'no') by Little Johnny, he went
quietly back to his desk.
A more confident man would just calculate the difference in relative ages of
him and the incumbent, and let nature take its course. But Smirky knows that
all politicians have shelf lives. A truth-overboard mishap, or a
life-wasn't-meant-to-be-easy slip can break a politician. And unlike the ALP,
there are other strong contenders for the position. Like Malcolm Turnbull for
Maybe the best economic minds at Treasury could help Smirky calculate the
most efficient way to expend or conserve political capital? It would take his
mind off raising taxes anyway.