The Liberals are not very good at the human factor. They work on unseen bogeymen, and when a living human person appears in their cross-hairs — Slipper, gloomily stepping down; Nick Sherry, attempting suicide; John Brogden, attempting suicide; Don Dunstan, resigning in a dressing gown; Alamdar and Montezar Bakhtiyari, little boys in baseball caps, pleading for their lives– they are flummoxed by the immediate public rage at their evident cruelty.
Now it suddenly seems Craig may hurt himself, may do himself in, perhaps; bereave two infant children and smash the Liberals posthumously with a nationwide broadcast of his weeping funeral and of course, of course, they are backing off now; Abbott, his primary waterboarder, asking timidly after his health and wishing him well after jeering him down Golgotha for weeks and months and years.
He does not yet understand how the Liberals’ ancient accustomed method, the puppetisation of one’s enemies, now, in the age of the phone camera, the iPad, the tweet and ABC 202 has become technologically impossible. The enemy now can answer back, he can answer back, as the Arab Spring showed. You may ban him from the Letters Page but he can answer here, or on YouTube or Lateline. He is a puppet no longer. He has words. He has teeth.
And you can see the Liberals as they truly are on the floor of the House, repeatedly through the long loud raw foul-hearted bickering day: Abbott snarling and Pyne shrieking, and Bishop calling ‘tricky, pretty tricky’ the shrewd Bob Carr’s emollient merciful saving of Schapelle Corby’s life. You can see them on this technology as they really, truly are: schoolyard bullies, red in tooth and claw, shrieking for blood, more carnage, more vengeance, hurt and shaming, hating the human race, the common stumbling sorry lustful human race from which they feel such exiles.
And the game is up for them now. They used to be able to make us believe that mothers would throw their one-year old babies into the sea. They can do this no longer. They used to be able to make us believe Shock and Awe was not terrorism. They can no longer.
And they have lost the game, for good.