I am not a great admirer of the former leader of the Opposition, but of late he has made some pithy forays into the parlous state of the Liberal Party, federally and in NSW.
His current critique of the Howard years lets little John off lightly in my book, but then I witnessed some of his government's asylum seeker and aid strategies at close quarters. 'Low rent' does'nt quite get to the nub of it - time will see forensic analysis of some of the more appalling episodes.
So, from my point of view, Hewson has laid into Howard with a feather duster. Hewson is strong on the abject failure to protect the rights of Hicks, and on the latter's continuous demonisation by Howard et al for political purposes.
He is spot on when it comes to the lack of rigour shown by journalists (I use this term loosely) in holding Howard to account. Too many scribes and hacks have either been in thrall to Howard's abuse of power and/or the comfortable incomes they earn doing the bidding of their media bosses. Some of the dissembling, hand wringing interviews I've seen Howard get away with beggar belief in a polity that once prided itself on a robust, independent fourth estate.
Hewson lets Howard off lightly on 'conservatism' and 'not challenging the status quo'. Howard has tapped into a neo-conservative agenda formulated in Bush's America that sees free marketeer ideologues as having won all the intellectual debates on society, the economy and who should run the world (corporate airheads rule ok?). Thus you get unilateralism, rampant abuse of civil rights, a phony 'war on terror' to engender fear and loathing, trashing of key areas of the rule of law, manipulation of aid to bully and bribe smaller countries, 'flexible' industrial relations laws, 'casualisation' of the workforce, 'commodification' of human beings, grubby deals with countries that suppress human rights systematically whilst providing trade concessions, a new lexicon to encompass the phenomena emerging from this brave new world of wanting and getting on demand, and so it goes ...
Despair avoidance requires one to live in hope that a revitalized Labor Party and a fourth estate that has rediscovered its collective backbone will not let Howard escape public accountability yet again in this election year.
Petty in The Age