Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Could We Have Been So Foolish?

While there is continuing debate about climate change and whether the world really is warming up as a result of human activity, one thing we can be sure of is that Kevin Rudd’s temperature was elevated after being accused of abandoning his climate change policy. Asked by the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien about the policy reversal, the Prime Minister appeared to undergo a personality transplant on the spot and actually show some emotion. Of course, if you have seen the footage you would know that it was not exactly an outrageous outburst, but more like a slightly raised tone, and a slightly harder edge with a slightly firmer set of the jaw. In anybody else it would have barely registered, but in the Prime Minister, who has perfected being cool and calm to the point of being robot-like, it was decidedly testy.

Perhaps we have all misjudged our Prime Minister. Perhaps it’s all our fault. Perhaps we just don’t understand. After all, climate change is the greatest moral, social, and economic challenge of our time, and it’s not his fault that the mean spirited Tony Abbott upset the apple cart by voting against the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. It’s not his fault that the Copenhagen conference failed to reach a clear global agreement. We just misunderstood what Kevin meant when he announced that the emissions trading plan would be postponed until 2013 at the earliest, two elections away. We all thought he was abandoning his headline policy, turning with the political breeze and saying what he thought would be expedient. Apparently we were wrong, and what he really meant was that the climate plan had been derailed by the forces of evil so badly that it would take at least until 2013 to get it back on track.

How could we have been so wrong? How could so many Australians have been so badly mistaken that they decided to no longer support the government in the opinion polls? How could we blame Saint Kevin for a set of circumstances which was forced upon him by the opposition having the temerity to actually oppose something? This misunderstanding has so deeply offended our Prime Minister that he was last night moved to call Kerry O’Brien “mate” in that tone of voice reserved for dealing with home invaders who are about to take to your family with a baseball bat. As a result, much has been made about an exchange which would have been completely normal for anyone else, but coming from the Prime Minister has been described as reminiscent of Mark Latham.

Of course, that’s just ridiculous. Comparing Kevin Rudd to Mark Latham is like comparing a negligent doctor to Jack the Ripper. Both of them are dangerous, but only one of them is actually a lunatic. No, it’s all our fault for misjudging the Prime Minister in the first place. Never mind that we might have been led to making false assumptions by the failure of the home insulation program, the wasted billions of the school hall construction plan, and the broken promises for childcare centres and GP super clinics. None of that is relevant. All that really matters is that now we know that Kevin Rudd is not a moral coward for abandoning his own climate change policy at all. He is just misunderstood.

And that my friends, is quite obviously our fault. How could we have been so foolish?

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