Tony Abbott, we’re told, is “real”. Able to mix with the battlers (just like Joe Hockey, another product of the North Shore Jesuit Fathers, and just like yet another, Barnaby Joyce, the accountant in the Akubra), he’s “authentic”.
Kevin Rudd is real too. He really is a wonky, nerdy bureaucrat. Perish the thought that we would want to vote for someone who knew something about policy?
But why is it assumed that the persona doesn’t mask something else? Could Tony Abbott be the one spinning a web of symbolism? Wasn’t George W. Bush the candidate we’d rather have a beer with?
[Rhetorical questions in the mode of KRudd.]
Now, I haven’t read Tony’s tome. Be interested to hear from anyone who has. But, Geoffrey Barker has, and he wrote this in the Fin Review today:
… we will have entered the age of bogan politics for a bogan nation: vulgar, simplistic, and focused on aggression, and extremist and alarmist claims. It will be politics to appeal to a dumbed-down electorate, attracted to tattoos and leaders who wear Speedos and fluorescent Lycra cycling outfits.
Yet behind his populist and athletic facade, Abbott is a throne-and-altar conservative with a deeply pessimistic view of human nature and its capacity for improvement. His manifesto, Battlelines, stresses how hard it is for humans to reconcile carnal appetites with their spiritual yearnings, and he acknowledges that dilemma in his life.
Hence, despite Abbott’s “trust the people” populism, he stresses the importance of the secular authority of the monarchy or the church to control frail humanity. When he removes the public mask, the commitments to monarch and pope define the real Abbott. They do not sit easily with his bogan politics, but that does not appear to worry him.