The Joe Hockey Factor

It is a universally accepted truth that it was mostly Gillard’s voice that cost her the leadership. Carking, dull, insecure and unconvincing, it added up, whatever the truth of it, to a Peter Principle person unfit for the high, testing job of PM.

Hockey’s whingey voice gives the same impression. So does Milne’s whingey voice, as Brown’s calm baritone montone never did. Crean had a whinge in his voice. Pyne does, and Abbott. Costello never did. Bob Carr never, never did. Bob Menzies never did. Winners, old friend, are never whingers.

And Rudd does not. His Radio National compere tone, whatever the truth of it, bespeaks a tranquillity of mind, and a capacity for hard-fought midnight moonlit decision that contrasts with Abbott’s ambitious frenzy, impatience and mendacity.

Abbott’s voice is not as bad, though, as Hockey’s. His you-wouldn’t-read-about-it expostulations bespeak a great Australian familiarity, the whingeing migrant. Nothing is good enough for him. On Tuesday he will greet the lowest interest rates in fifty years with pained, finger-spreading exasperation.

It’s a tone, and a voice, that becomes unbelievable after a while. Would you let this man buy you a second-hand car? It’s doubtful.

And it can’t be cured now, it’s affixed, it’s stitched in. It’s him. It’s in his DNA. Along with Morrison’s wild goose chases, it is the principal reason why the Liberals will not regain the high ground. They sound like chooks in the back yard, shrieking for a feed.

And are doomed, probably, as a party now.


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  1. I agree with your whining and whingeing lists - it really is a LNP trait. To your list you could add Alexander Downer, Campbell Newman, Greg Hunt, Eric Abetz and John Roskam (IPA) and Tim Wilson (IPA).

    But when you said Costello didn’t have a little whiny voice you forgot that SMIRK!!! Drove me crazy for years.

  2. And Turnbull does not have this whingeing-voice affliction.
    You are an insightful observer and clever commentator Bob. I hope the Libs are reading your blog. Abbott is their Gillard.

  3. Yes, Hockey has a voice which is bereft of any level of gravitas.

    He’s also their dullard David :razz:

  4. It’s not their voices. It’s the threatening stares, aggressive postures and born to rule sniggers that rile me.

  5. Yep. I’m not sure how unfair it is either, voice tone betrays a part of our character that we may otherwise be clever enough to conceal.

    Then there are the halves of our brain controlling different halves of our faces, usually the verbal left brain controlling the right side. So a fake smile is wider on the right side of the face, while a real smile is even. If we smile a lot then as we get older we get smile lines, and if we fake smile a lot those lines are much more marked on the right side of the face (or contrariwise for some left-handers). Something to check for. Everyone’s face is a bit lop-sided but a very lop-sided face is a bad sign.

    Also people forget about pherohormones. I was very struck on meeting Sam Newman on a street walk how warm and likeable he was in person, from TV I had thought him just a hoon. But here he was behaving just like he does on TV because he was in fact on TV but very unexpectedly to me he was nice to be near. I put it down to pherohormones. And I imagine that Tony Abbot, too, has good pherohormones.

    • Jeremy, very interesting. We met up with our dear American friend of Polish Jewish background for lunch: he has the Polish roundness, face-wise, nothing lopsided, and a fantastic self-deprecating sense of humour…on the way home I thought how good it is to have him back in our lives as there is also an uncommon amount of kindness to him as well…

      (PS. He’s been spending a lot time in America, as his mum has been very sick.)

      • Daniel Jenkins

        In God‘s name, Helvi, how is it relevant that your friend is Polish?

        • ….you are easily irritated, I was tuning in to Jeremy’s lovely post, and took notice of his reference to lopsided faces…the Polish faces are often nicely rounded, NOT lopsided…

          How is your face, bitter much, your slip is showing again…

          By the way, I was talking to Jeremy.

          • ‘easily irritated’ - irritation, permanent, fuming irritation seems to be the permanent state of some people when they go on the internet, H. Maybe they go on the internet to relieve themselves

            I’ve just been reading Jane Austen, and the contrast provided by your riposte to JD brought her to mind, in contrast with some recent books about the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan - and you can imagine the reported massive machismo and anger and general bullshit in those

            • Malcolm Kukura

              I hope relieving themselves means neither a golden shower nor a shit sandwich on awry - I left my famous blue rain coat out in Dahrain and now MacArthur’s quarks are throbbing in my brain. The horror - Kurtz is starting up San Juan Hill again in my dreams fuming with irritation.

              Now - I know they are all snarling vicious capitalist barbarians in a world to which they bring an appreciable risk of ultimate doom as Chomsky said.

              Can socialists still remain civilized in times like this?

      • It sounds like he has the face that reflects his inner beauty and kindness .I find round faces very calming.It interesting that humans find symmetrical faces beautiful.

  6. God you are funny, Bob. Agree about Milne , I’m really missing Bob Brown, you are right about Hockey, Pyne, Hunt, and of course about Abbot, he is the typical whingeing migrant,LOL.
    Costello has the smirk, but anyone with a nice brother like Tim, can’t be all bad. Tim Fisher was likeable, and I’m not saying anything bad about Gillard, poor girl has suffered enough..

    Crean never did anything wrong, I just never warmed up to him…
    Sorry Bob, but I somehow think that Bob Carr’s voice and face don’t match…

    • …and all the female Labor politicians have nice friendly faces; Plibersek, Ellis, Macklin…
      So do many of the males; Rudd, Dreyfus, Smith, Bowen, Albanese, Burke…

  7. Jeremy, I am with you. You can tell a lot about people from the symmetry of their faces and also the shape of their skulls. Not enough people realise this. However I am a bit concerned that you were charmed by Sam Newman’s odour.

    • Not so much the shape of the skulls, EdgarH, barring accidents that is genetic and unrelated to personality. But the lines on people’s faces are created by their habitual expressions.

      I didn’t consciously detect any odour about Sam Newman, but the thing about pherohormones is that they work subliminally. If you watch for their effects in apparently unmotivated likes and dislikes you will find much of interest.

      And yes, EdgarH, I did pick up the irony. But by apparently ignoring it I am in a sense reflecting it, eh.

  8. To what ‘universally accepted truth’ do you refer. Surely Murdoch did not crucify her for the cringe factor.

    But yes you hit the nail squarely with Joe -

  9. Bob, what category does John Howard fall under?

    • Whinger. He lost the leadership once because of it, and scored four hundred thousand less votes than Kim Beazley because of it. He was losing 60-40 in 2001 because of it, but was rescued by 9/11 and a world war and scraped home narrowly after being behind on the final Thursday when a, yes, burning boat was sighted off Christmas Island, which turned out, on election day, too late to affect the voting, to be not burning. Latham’s violent history and bipolar rages retrieved him in 2004 and in 2007 he lost his seat.

      He had voice lessons, deepened his tone and affected insouciance but was whingeing at the end, and paid for it.

      • Howard cut off the bushy eyebrows and got new eyewear…

        Helen Clarke in NZ did nothing, yet people liked her because she was authentic, as was the Finnish President Tarja Halonen, liked by people for who she was…

      • Indeed, and he was pilloried for it. But it didn’t stop the little turd from winning 4 straight elections. Admittedly he was very fortunate, as you point out. If he hadn’t tried springing Workchoices on the nation he might still be PM today (ughh!).

      • ”He (Howard) had voice lessons, deepened his tone and affected insouciance“

        … as usual, following slavishly in the footsteps of St Margaret of Thatcher, who ‘under the guidance of a tutor from the National Theatre, underwent a training programme which included special humming exercises aimed at lowering the pitch level at which she formerly spoke.

        From tape recordings of speeches made before and after receiving tuition a marked difference can be very hear. When there are played through an electronic pitch analyser, it emerges that she achieved a reduction in pitch of 46 Hz, a figure which is almost half the average difference in pitch between male and female voices. (Atkinson, 1984, p.113)

        from Anne Carson - The Gender of Sound (Glass, Irony and God)

        There are many other aspects of image that would impede any remnant ambition that Hockey harbours to be leader. I have a feeling that his last attempt left him shocked and disgusted, and that he no longer has the appetite for the struggle.

  10. more than a decade and his pièce de résistance was two thirds of tax…..

  11. I thought politics is Hollywood for ugly people.

    Seems we need theatrical radio voices now to go with the Hollywood scripts.

    Especially now that Rudd has hired three of Obama’s spin-meisters, including something called a “digital attack dog.”

    • Frank, please share your attitude toward “attack politics” in our recent political past.

      For illustrative purposes, you may wish to draw on, in no particular order:

      “Ruddgate”– false accusations against Kevin Rudd by the Walter Mitty of the Conservatives, Godwin Grech;

      – allegations against Julia Gillard, unproven after exhaustive investigations;

      – Allegations against Craig Thompson, still unproven;

      – Allegations against Peter Slipper, thrown out of court.

      • I could talk about Eddie Obeid and the NSW Right.

        Anyone up for it?

        Hmmmm. Thought not.

        • Alright Frank.
          Those cocksuckers aren’t “politicains’ - theyre are a bunch of mafia scum who deserve a bullet in the back of the head.
          I don’t give a fuck that they’re ‘Labor’ and it would make no difference if they were Liberal.
          You won’t get any bites on that line Frank.
          Unless you’re comparing the actions of the Liberals responsible in Dali’s list with the likes of Obeid.
          Are you doing that Frank? Is that what you’re doing?

  12. er er er er er er er er er er….=ABBOTT

  13. Watching ‘Go Back Where You Came From’ last night on SBS, I was struck by the sweet musicality of the unlikeable Peter Reith’s voice.

    • …I heard no musicality, I sensed a man scared of the unknown, not a brave man…

      • Reith showed the hide of a rhinoceros in resisting any challenge to his views. Smith and Anderson appeared to moderate their views quite remarkably during the experience, not so Reith. Deveny performed a Marilyn-like piece of overkill. She should have allowed the conservatives to see for themselves, as Smith and Anderson did.

        Like Marilyn, Deveny brooked no digression from her views.

        As for Reith’s voice, it is of course that of a professional politician. Those without such a voice will suffer a handicap, as Gillard did. Nevertheless, I think it is what a person says rather than how their voice sounds.

      • WREITH:-is the most callous of all liars Helvi. When told the navy had video that proved children were NOT thrown into the water….what did Wreith say “Oh well we better not let them see that”. He kept that footage till well after the bloody election. “The Howard Dark Years” must not only be exposed but investigated.

    • I felt a bit sorry for Peter Reith. Having to sleep on a boat and slum it listening to Deveny. The man is a saint for not strangling her..

  14. i agree Helvi I saw this series some time ago no compassion in this man.I agree with most of your comments Keep up the good work. :smile: I am inmy 70s and find social media so worthwhile.Also thank you Bob.

  15. Not so sure about Costello. His voice got high and whiney when he raised his voice to address Parliament.

  16. Absolute nail on the head Bob. What a whinging whining pukefest is Hockey. There’s absolutely no way he will even be Opposition leader after the Liberals lose the Federal election. If Turnbull doesn’t become Opposition leader after their upcoming defeat who will ? Pyne, Robb, one of the Bishops, Morrison? A gang of mediocrities doesn’t even begin to cover what bottom of the barrell scum the Liberal party truly are.

    • Oh, I don’t know - I think they cover the bottom of the barrel pretty well.

    • In another age Hockey would have been a bumbling court jester and one who sailed rather close to the political wind du jour. He is born for certain leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan….Poohbah in The Mikado comes immediately to mind or the Major General who led his troops from behind because he found it less exciting.

  17. The elsatic band they put around Joe Hokeidonian’s stomach has moved up his oesophagus and is now strangling his vocal chords!

    • Malcolm Kukura

      Sacerdotal descent of the band must be constantly feared. A Wakenhut soprano for treasurer would be a whacky outcome.

  18. Not sure of the general value of voices as a guide to character, but the cases of Hockey and Brown certainly lend support to Ellis’s idea. I’d add Windsor. I’d happily spend a lot of time listening to Windsor and Brown, because they have fine voices and manners of speaking, which fully reflect their characters so far as I can judge their characters.

    • My favourite politician voice has to be Paul Keatings ,its has an authenticity and authority. I also love Bob Browns voice , calm reassuring ,reasonable and with a relaxed warmth .
      I also love Bob Ellis voice it has that sexy naughty boy twang

      • Rupert likes Keating,also. Keating gave Rupert everything he wanted and more than he expected.

        • Murdoch can speak for himself and tell the world whom he likes and whom not, don’t ya think Michael.

          And so can Keating, I like Paul but he has not told me if the liking is mutual.

      • I’ve added Keating to my gang of four! A very impressive person indeed, voice and all.

        Sure, Michael, he made his share of mistakes, but really, the Australian media scene has always been a near-complete disaster for the left, and Keating had bigger fish to fry even than the Turd

        • JS, you say the gang of four, but I find only three: Brown, Windsor and Keating…who is the fourth?

          Albanese is never boring, he’s also rather confident…
          Hawke? Not on my list…

    • JS, how could I forget the most honourable politician in Oz, Windsor: a good man, a good voice.

  19. Gough’s rather breathy baritone for mine - distinctive, clear and precise, with the timing of a good actor.

    • the last word is the problem; ditto with Carr

      • I have a problem with being addressed as if I was a public meeting, to quote someone who I can’t locate via Google, (Wilde?)

        • Perhaps; I always found Bob Brown’s voice rather boring and monotonous. Keating’s I’ll agree is excellent. Windsor’s voice also is very fine.

          I cannot see your objection to Carr, nor to Gough. Admittedly they both tend to lecture, as does Brown, you might notice.

          I suppose we must separate the voice from the purpose for which it is used, for this exercise.

          • I think there was fire and enthusiasm in Gough’s speech, Carr might have a nice voice but it leaves me cold.

  20. Glenda Jackson is my favourite female political voice . Strong , passionate and resonate.

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