Sunday, April 15, 2012

Over Bob's Rainbow

Do you ever wonder about the incongruity of Sydney's Daily Telegraph talking about how progressive voters think? It's like asking an atheist why she doesn't believe  in God. Or why some people are gay. 

Progressive voters - lefties - rarely compromise. They're not dissimilar to conservative "values" voters in that way. Lefties are values voters, but their values are opposite to those on the right. True Believers, all. Please, insert your own 'der' here.

Reputable newspapers should have no difficulty in reporting what the Government of the day has said and done, give or take a degree of spin. Having said that, pretending to understand how the minds of progressive voters work is not an area of expertise for the Murdoch media. Just look at this effort from yesterday's Daily Telegraph. 

"Will Greens turn red now that Bob Brown is down?" asked the headline. 

Bob Brown's unexpected retirement has provided News Limited with a tailor-made opportunity to guess at the potential of a Christine Milne-lead Green machine. 

And they did. If you believe the Telegraph, Bob Brown's retirement could be the end of a significant third force in Australian politics. In Simon Benson's piece yesterday, you could hear the salivating: "Tony Abbott will make easy work of a perception that the man responsible for forcing the government to introduce the carbon tax doesn't even want to stick around to see it start."

Honeycomb. A sweet fiction full of holes. Just enough substance to make it feel solid, the glossy appearance of insider knowledge, and enough spin to appeal to the paper's conservative readers. For the progressive reader, manufactured air bubbles surrounded by annoyance.

Bob Brown didn't force the Government to introduce a carbon tax. No-one forced the government to introduce the carbon tax. Why is it so hard to accept that the ALP Government made a decision based on what they believe to be the best course for Australia? The Greens agreed. 

Perhaps the vision of a quietly determined Dr Brown monotonously brow-beating a weak-willed red-headed female PM into backflipping political submission works for you. If that's a credible image, Campbell Newman has tunnel to sell: one careful owner, barely used. He'll even throw in free delivery!

For anyone with an interest in returning the Coalition to power, the suggestion that Julia Gillard is weak is worth promoting. It's not factual, but that's not important, right? Right.

Next, drum up some fear, straight out of the Roger Ailes play book. According to Benson, Bob Brown - despite forcing a crippling carbon tax on an unwilling nation - is a moderate Green. The true Watermelon Devil is the new leader Christine Milne, with her communist tendencies guiding a radical social agenda. 

Ms Milne has been very determined to focus her intentions on more easily identifiable Green targets: rural Australia and big business. Not a whisper about middle class welfare from the Chief Commie...although Barnaby Joyce wants to increase the Baby Bonus for stay-at-home Mums. Only fair, too: if you sacrifice your career, the least you should get is a new set of stainless steel appliances. 

As for the timing of the retirement, I'm surprised no-one has suggested that it was a plot to deny the Liberal Premiers their national news cycle at COAG.  Not everything that happens on the left is designed to wound the right. Sometimes decisions are made not for their political impact, but because they are the best decisions one can make at the time.

Bob will be around to see the Carbon Tax; it's about to be reality, even in Tasmania. To suggest that he's retirement has anything to do with not wanting to be in Canberra when it happens is just nonsensical. 

It's a good yarn, though. If there is dissent within the Greens, Bob and the Lefties will be cheering from outside the inner circle. The Greens under Bob Brown accepted and encouraged people to think, to discover, to explore and debate and find their common ground and represent progressive Australians.
That's the way the Left thinks.

Simon Benson concluded his piece with this: "Whether you agree with his policies or not, it is unlikely this country will see another third force in politics like him for quite some time."

No, there's no-one quite like Dr Bob Brown. How fortunate we have been to have him as part of our national dialogue.

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