Tuesday, August 28, 2007

US expert misses Aussie mark

I can’t say I’m familiar with US conservative academic and pollster Frank Luntz, but his findings on the robust nature of Australian amusing, if not instructive. I know he’s a fairly young bloke, but comparing John Howard with Nixon is a bit of a stretch:

"He is using the most blunt terminology that I have ever seen a leader use," Luntz says. "Howard is almost Nixonian."

"America has a reputation for having a knock-down, drag-out negative electoral system. But it doesn't hold a candle to Australia. You guys are so much more blunt, so much more in-your-face."

Luntz is correct in suggesting our parliamentary system, which compels our political leaders to engage in daily combat, to be at the heart of that bluntness. But it also reflects a traditional attitude in this country – everyone’s shit stinks!

Howard is a polariser in his language though he lacks the venom and colour of former leaders, from both sides of the parliament. In fact I would say, despite the bind he’s in at the moment Howard is still bland.

On the other hand Kevin Rudd is catching whatever barbs thrown and claiming them as his own. No counter attacks, no harsh words, just a ‘cuddly’ display untypical of his Labor movement.

Luntz might well be shocked, when comparing with the US, but I’m just amazed Howard has remained so calm. It has never been his language per se as much as his tactics of wider community division.

However, now Howard is under direct threat of losing not just government, but his own seat. Defending just over 4% in a redistributed electorate, Howard is facing a tough battle to hold in.

Fighting the battle on two fronts would normally generate a much more robust response. So Luntz, I’m sure you are a bright young bloke, but just peeking through the door obviously doesn’t inform as much as a sound background knowledge. Nixonian indeed!

A living example:

From my brother the candidate to the Deputy PM he is opposing:

Dear Mr. Vaile,

I am excited at the thought of running against you for the seat of Lyne as an unfunded and unaligned Independent in the upcoming federal election.

You and I have found a beautiful, rare and wondrous place.

I am a bit of a clown and my memory seems to be fading a tad so I am really excited that you and I have found the elusive ‘Level Playing Field’ that you have rabbited on about for so long as Minister for Trade, Deputy Prime Minister and other sundry positions….

Vaile thanked Robin for his thoughts, adding: I have noted the matters you have raised and will keep them very much in mind in the future.


reality-based educator said...

Frank Luntz is a despicable human being who has done more to harm the state of democracy in the U.S. than almost anyone else. He turned everything into an exercise in Orwellia.

Cartledge said...

Sounds pretty right to me RBE. Not good on analysis but no doubt a wizkid at driving crap.