Obama’s excellent State of the Union speech, as good as five Gettysburgs, put him back on the map and made the election his to lose.
The critical sentence was ‘We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.’
And it left the Republicans with nowhere to go, or hide. Romney has hundreds of milions and has in his time sacked thousands of people and pays half the tax his typist pays. Gingrich made millions touting Fannie Mae whose dud loans provoked and fed and sped the world Meltdown. A brokered convention looks likely now, with someone as thick as Huckabee or as mad as Palin soft-shoeing out of the shadows to claim the crown.
Ailes and Murdoch meanwhile are up to their old tricks. How dare the President use this great night of the nation to discuss politics? How dare he go campaigning the day after, in an election year? You don’t ‘play politics’ with the State of the Union. No sir, you do not. It’s there for you to say what you’ve been up to lately, and what your plans are, You have to leave ‘politics’ out of it.
A similar trick is being played on Albo. How dare he use words Michael Douglas once used in a movie made sixteen years ago? To wit:
PRESIDENT DOUGLAS: We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, friend, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it.
ALBO: In Australia we have serious challenges to solve and we need serious people to to solve them. Unfortunately, Tony Abbott is not the least bit interested in fixing anything. He is only interested in two things: making Australians afraid of it and telling them who’s to blame for it.
Not much in this, comrade. Of the seven major ingredients of each of the paragraphs quoted, only one, the last, has the same wording, or nearly. And it’s not as if the insight is unusual, it’s about the politics of fear and dread and blame. We’ve heard about this before, haven’t we? Fearing the Yellow Peril? Blaming the Jews.
How ridiculous this all is. Nobody went after John Howard, ever, for using the words ‘laid down their lives for the freedoms we now enjoy’ though fourteen hundred politicians had used the same words at cenotaphs all over the English-speaking world in the year before he said it. Or the words ‘the ongoing menace of global terrorism’, which George Bush had used before him, several times before. But if Albo says ‘Play it again, Sam’ or ‘Call that knife?’ or ‘Feeling lucky, punk?’ or ‘Make my day’ or ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’ without acknowledging where it came from he should be deprived of his preselection or his Ministry. Or so we are told. Though it’s an utterly victimless crime he should lose his profession for it.
What a wondrous, eccentric, bizarre idea. Following the logic, Barack Obama now cannot say anything on a public stage without acknowledging who wrote the words on his telepromper. And Paul Keating should have been deselected or deposed or censured in Parliament for speaking the fine words Don Watson wrote at Redfern. And Rupert Murdoch should be gaoled for reading the Boyer Lecture he gave in the Opera House without first saying who wrote it for him.
And Shakespeare should have been drummed out of the theatre for putting into Julius Caesar the many, many lines he quoted unchanged from Tom North’s Plutarch: Why, I shall see thee at Philippi then; What touches us ourselves shall be last served; Caesar must wait until Calpurnia have better dreams. And Robert Bolt arraigned before the House of Commons for including in A Man For All Seasons many, many words that Sir Thomas More once really said or wrote. And Colin Firth sent to the Tower for quoting without attrribution the speech the King gave in 1939 without saying, and saying in the film, who wrote it. It stands to reason. Fred Niles should be defrocked for using in his casual conversation one-liners from the Bible without saying where each and every one came from, chapter and verse.You know it makes sense.
Ailes and Murdoch have a lot of tricks. They made no protest when Frank Wuterich was let off on Tuesday for mistakenly slaughtering women and children in Iraq. But quoting Michael Douglas? No way.
Murdoch has done this before. When Joe Biden was running for President in 1988 and was at the head of the pack the Murdoch papers revealed that he had used, unacknowledged, in a stump speech in a small town a famous paragraph of Neil Kinnock’s, about being the first Kinnock in a thousand years to get to university. Biden had used the paragraph before, and always attributed it, saying, ‘I, like Neil Kinnock, can say of myself that I am the first Biden in a thousand years’, and so on; and he forgot the preamble once and lost the Presidency. And Bush 1 got it. And it’s a pity.
And it is another Murdoch fiction, that if words are used that have been used before by someone else, great harm has occurred. But no harm has occurred. We quote the Bible, we quote Karl Marx, ‘first as tragedy, then as farce’, all the time. We quote proverbs, unattributed, a penny saved is a penny earned (Ben Franklin) all the time.
In the meantime children are being killed by drone missiles in what Murdoch calls ‘an appropriate, limited response’. No harm in that. No crime there. But gee, if you sneer at a Woy Woy waiter, or say ‘mate’ in a heated way to Kerry O’Brien, that’s a sacking offence, and even a Prime Minister should go down for it.
These are the Murdoch rules. They have no connection with actual spontaneous human response. They are learned, in a Pavlovian way, by ignorant unreflective young journalists, including ABC journalists, who should know better and have been suckered into the Rove propaganda fog of deceit and embellishment and should be ashamed of themselves.
Or perhaps you disagree.
(There is no more to come. Ignore the curiously uneraseable headline below.)
MORE TO COME