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Angry Abbott

Tony Abbott is rattled, and predictably is reacting by throwing punches in his ‘whirling dervisher’ fashion.  Anyone who upsets him is a target, writes respected long-time blogger Ad astra.

Anyone who has been watching Tony Abbott since he entered parliament; any one who has read about his behaviour during his days in student politics; anyone who knows about his boxing escapades during his Rhodes scholarship days at Oxford, will not be at all surprised at his angry demeanour this past week.

He described his boxing technique as ‘the whirling dervisher’, an apt description. Flailing arms, resembling a whirling dervish, a ceremonial dance among some religious cults, were his line of attack, calculated to knock his opponent to the canvas, suitably bloodied. He continued this approach into his political life.

Political observers know how in his student days he resented losing and remember the story of him kicking in a glass door when he narrowly lost in a University Senate election, who punched the wall close to Barbara Ramjan when he lost an SRC election to her, an event he couldn’t at first ‘remember’, and then said ‘it never happened’, despite witnesses to the contrary.

Since his early days, Abbott seems to have been an angry man when things have not gone his way, when he has suffered a setback, when he has been defeated, when he has been censured.

Last week was that sort of calamity: things going badly, a setback, a virtual defeat, and multiple censures.

Our memory of last week, when there was a call for a leadership spill, is so vivid that there is no need for me to repeat the events in detail. You know them well.

Reflect then on Abbott’s reaction to the calling of the vote, the far too-close-for-comfort outcome that humiliated him, the comments of his backbenchers before and after the spill motion, the thinly veiled criticism of some ministers close to him, and the acerbic writings of a coterie of journalists.

After the 61/39 vote his first move was to airily dismiss the event, to insist it was all over. But as the denigratory chatter persisted, as colourful remarks and cartoons emerged mocking him and portraying him as a spent force on borrowed time who would be tipped out sometime later this year, his anger rose to explosive levels.

His reaction was just what we expected! After a brief period of astonishment at his ‘near death experience’, expressions of regret and of being ‘chastened’, after promises to consult more, and a surprise announcement that good government was about to begin, it wasn’t long before he reverted to anger, aggression and belligerence. The ‘whirling dervisher’ was soon on display.

The most direct reaction to the vote was for him to sack his long-standing Party Whip, Philip Ruddock, the highly respected and longest serving parliamentarian with over 40 years to his credit, replacing him with his deputy Scott Buchholz, and appointing a Tasmanian first-termer and Abbott sycophant Andrew Nikolic as Deputy Whip, who no doubt will tell Abbott what he wants to hear. This was yet another ‘captain’s choice’, seemingly made this time in anger.

Abbott insisted though that this was not an act of retribution; some of his colleagues, surprised and bewildered as they were, didn’t see it that way. Last night on Q&A Malcolm Turnbull expressed his great admiration for Ruddock and his distress at his removal, but avoided criticism of Abbott, whom he said had made a ‘captain’s pick’. ‘He’s the captain; there’s a bunch of decisions he can make! It’s up to him to explain it’. Andrew Laming thought it was a crazy act of wounding just when healing was needed. It is thought to be Abbott’s reaction to some of his colleagues who apparently criticised Ruddock for not warning Abbott about the extent of backbench discontent, and for not mustering more support for him.

Ruddock himself was mystified. He told Sky News: “My expectation is if the Prime Minister had concerns about the way in which I undertook the task he would put them to me”. Whatever Abbott’s reason, it will be regarded as him striking out in anger and trying to regain authority. The opposite will be the outcome. Even days later the ripples of comment and discontent continue, and are likely to reinforce not only Abbott’s unsuitability for high office, but also his vindictiveness when wounded, his propensity to strike out at any detractor, or even an imagined one.

Abbott’s anger reached explosive proportions when he was mocked in Question Time about his ‘promise’ to Senator Sean Edwards, given to secure the votes of South Australian MPs, that a ‘competitive evaluation process’ would be used to determine who should get the contract to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines, which to Edwards meant that the Australian Submarine Corporation in SA would be able to tender. The ‘promise’ soon turned out to be yet more weasel words; Abbott would not be using an open tender process.

Abbott returned the mocking by saying that an open tender process would allow Vladimir Putin to bid, even Kim Jong Il of North Korea, now deceased. He painted the image of Russian and North Korean class submarines defending Australia. Then, as his anger got out of control he launched into a vitriolic attack on Labor’s efforts at submarine building and declared: “Under members opposite Defence jobs in this country declined by 10 per cent…There was a holocaust of jobs in Defence industries under members opposite.” Realising he had gone too far, he withdrew the term ‘holocaust’, changing his words to a “decimation of jobs”, and later apologised. But it was too late. His ill temper and florid language drew criticism from members from both sides of the House, the Jewish Board of Deputies, community leaders, and journalists. He realised too late that he had overstepped the bounds of propriety in using the word ‘holocaust’; his anger had overwhelmed his commonsense, just as it has done in the past.

Abbott’s next exhibition of anger came after the government’s long-delayed release of the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Forgotten Children’ report that called for a royal commission into the detention of children under both Labor and Coalition governments. He labelled it ‘a blatantly partisan politicised exercise’. He went on to say that the Human Rights Commission ought to be ashamed of itself and called on the chair, Professor Gillian Triggs, to resign. He raved on about it being a ‘stitch up’, although the report covered periods in office of both Labor and the LNP, and was critical of both. Yet again, Abbott’s intense anger at having to deal with yet another criticism of his government, especially at this time, overwhelmed his political commonsense.

Malcolm Fraser was caustic about Abbott’s reaction. He said that Abbott had handled the report very badly, and had chosen to attack the commission as a body and to attack the chairperson in particular, which he said was outrageous. “I know Gillian Triggs. She’s a very good, distinguished lawyer”. Fraser denied suggestions Ms Triggs had a political agenda or that the commission had a case to answer. “Absolutely not. She is fulfilling the charter laid out in the legislation,” he said.

If we needed any more evidence that pugilist Abbott was once more in the boxing ring, he let the cat out of bag when he arrogantly declared: “I am a fighter. I know how to beat Labor Party leaders. I beat Kevin Rudd; I beat Julia Gillard; and I can beat Bill Shorten as well.”

To Abbott, politics has always been a fight, with winners and losers. He knows no other way. Bipartisanship, consensus, collaboration in pursuit of the common good, cooperation for the sake of the nation, are simply not in his DNA. He must always fight and fight to win. He seems unable to consider the alternative – making peace.

We can expect even more aggression from Angry Abbott whenever the pressure builds as it surely will in the months ahead, as the headwinds against his government intensify, as its performance deteriorates, as he makes more gaffes, takes more bad decisions, makes another silly ‘captain’s pick’, cops more criticism from colleagues and the media, suffers more terrible polling, and watches his stocks sink lower and lower toward the inevitable end.

Be prepared.

Ad astra is a retired medical academic who despairs about the future of our nation under such leadership.

This article was first published by Ad astra on TPS Extra.


39 comments

  1. Peter F

    No wonder they didn’t vote for a spill. Imagine the destruction he will cause when they, or the electorate, DO get rid of him.

  2. Win jeavons

    This man is a disgrace to politics, and a total embarrassment as the ‘top’ man of the nation. Makes us all look like retarded lunatics, with apologies to the mentally ill.

  3. Pingback: Angry Abbott , February 19, 2015 . Written by: The AIM Network | winstonclose

  4. galacticpresident

    Abbott Bishop Morrison Pyne & the rest are a sad indictment on the character of a great many Australians, most notably the LNP membership … how anyone can elect fascism & bigotry to lead a political movement, is just so grotesque & unfathomable … having allowed this at all is a travesty … allowing it to go on so long, that just defines them as a collective moral & intellectual vacuum.

  5. Jan Dobson

    I’m very wary of holding events or the views of several years ago, let alone decades past, against anyone. After all, how can we evolve if who we were is held up to us as who we are.

    In Mr Abbott’s case, however, there is a prolonged and documented history of ill judged (to say the least) actions and quotes that smack of a character unfit for his position.

    Please tell me Australia has learned it’s lesson. I hope so but I’ve become cynical recently.

  6. lawrencewinder

    I despair of what this country has become and the thugs thast now ruls. What a tawdrylot of bogans.

  7. Lee

    I’m over his daily drama queen antics. It’s exhausting. I wish he would pull his stupid head in and start running the country like an adult.

  8. PopsieJ

    What is sickening in this scenario is that the whole of the LNP party stands silent as Abbott drags down Australia. Is there not one LNP party member to stand up and say “Tony Abbott sod off, you are a discrace”

  9. Ian Sprocket Muncher Parfrey

    This article nails our Idiot Savant PM to the wall – right where the goose belongs. Very astute observations throughout.

  10. Loz

    Yet the idiot remains at the helm.

  11. Lyle Upson.

    i am enjoying the angry Abbott, the comedy is just great…

  12. Graham Houghton

    Aldous Huxley: ‘At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols. And Robert F Kennedy: What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents. The idiot is as dangerous as a wounded animal. He will ultimately self-immolate, but until he does, do not underestimate the harm he will do to this nation and we who live here.

  13. Nigel Nillingsworth

    I notice that he’s kept a low profile this week. He’s skating on very thin ice and the less that he says, the less risk there is of the ‘Captain’ steering the boat in to an iceberg. He made a mess of last week, even after such disunity in his ‘team’.

    The only time I have heard the trash that comes out of his mouth this week is his excusing of metadata laws to be used in the fight against child pornography and crime.

    Watch as he builds on this metaphor with a ‘with us or against us’ argument by suggesting that if you disagree with his metadata retention laws then you are siding with the pedophiles. His ‘whirling dervish’ fighting style gets very dirty.

    He’s very good at trying to hide the real reason for what he wants to use this for. Reasons such as:
    – Giving large corporations the ability to subpoena people’s personal data and drag them through civil litigation throwing their entire private life up in to the legal system as a weapon against large insurance claims, workcover disputes and a whole host of other disputes.
    – Catching internet piracy as per Australia’s new Free Trade Agreement obligations.
    – Catching whistle blowers and other dissidents.
    – Expanding policing of our personal lives.

    I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons why they want this, but those are a few that I can think of.

  14. darthseditious

    One of the columnists in the Brisbane Times today said the leadership chatter was still coming out of canberra and may come to a head around the 2nd of March when Parliament sits again. That still leaves two weeks for Abbott to make things even worse for himself than it already is.

  15. Graeme Henchel

    The Mad Monk’s Mammoth Fail

    It was 2013, I remember
    Sometime in September
    When Abbott and his lying mates took over
    They’d defeated Kevin Rudd
    With lots of help from Murdoch’s mud
    While Abbott was the dog of the drover

    The thug had gone in hard
    On Julia Gillard
    Earning himself the title Dr No
    With Rupert on his side
    He just sloganeered and lied
    And got in with no policies to show

    And so began the tale
    Of the Mad Monk’s mammoth fail
    A story that was never a surprise
    Cos Abbott and his crew
    Had no clue of what to do
    Once the public stopped believing all their lies

    It didn’t take too long
    When things started to go wrong
    promises were broken from the start
    Then Mathias and Joe Hockey
    Smoking cigars and feeling cocky
    dropped a budget that stunk worse than a fart

    What followed was a disaster
    We’d never seen it happen faster
    As the polls went into terminal decline
    From Abbott’s Dames and Knights
    To the Egghead’s “Bigots rights”
    And the backflips of perfidious Pyne

    Though it was the captain of team Australia
    That led his team to failure
    With his lies and his stupid captain’s picks
    All his crew were just as weak
    As he took them up shit creek
    A party of pernicious lying pricks

    Things went from bad to worse
    As they flogged a dying horse
    Till the backbench thought the jockey was to blame
    So they tried to call a spill
    But did not complete the kill
    So for now it’s just some more of the same

    But Abbott’s die is cast
    His use by date has passed
    Soon we’ll see another chapter in this farce
    They’ll be hoping Malcolm’s words
    Can polish their policy turds
    In a desperate last attempt to save their arse

  16. Andre Poublon

    The only positive I can think of is that Tony Abbott will destroy the myth that the LNP are better economic and governmental managers than the ALP.

  17. Bilal

    Please do not insult dervishes. They were Sufis, following the inner path to enlightenment and God awareness. They were generous, selfless servants of creation, unlike this bovver boy. Please read the poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi whose whirling dervishes were the very soul of Islam for many years. His ideas have never died and are seen as a mystic path to understanding how to relate to the Divinity.

  18. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    He not only can destroy the myth (please read Bilal’s comment above) – that objective has already been achieved. In addition, from being a country which was the envy of the world for coming through the GFC with our economy intact and a triple A rating, we are now the laughing stock of the world for electing a fool who cannot handle diplomacy but wants to fight everybody. I seriously wonder how his family copes. I know the country is the worse for ever having him in our Parliament, let alone as our useless PM abusing the power that gives him and surrounded by sycophants or cowards. I hope Labor learns some lessons from the way he has dragged debate down to mudslinging and behaves with more courtesy. We elect our parliamentarians to represent us and they should be role models we can emulate.

  19. Harquebus

    Tony Abbott is too predictable and on borrowed time. It is time to start denigrating and ridiculing his supporters. A few deserters will stir things up.

  20. Annie B

    As I read this article, I could not help but see – in many of the words, and examples, a distinct correlation between Abbott and a bad tempered, spoiled child throwing a tantrum ( tantrums ) because he / she could not get their own way.

    This is in fact, how he is. … And we have him as a leader ? ( but not for long ).

    He will self-destruct one way or another … and I doubt it will be long in coming. ….. It will not be a pretty sight either.

  21. paul walter

    No, he is a nasty bastard as are his confrateres and they will do some damage before they are done with. Nothing they would love more than to drag a few others down with them.

  22. eli nes

    ad astra per aspera and few have ‘aspera-ed’ more than abbutt or less than little billy. Festina lente is a great tactic but it requires some movement. Little billy and tanya are certainly not festina-ing and I have been unable to see that pair even lente-ing on the morning non-ABC shows.

  23. Kaye Lee

    darthseditious,

    My inside source tells me that something may well happen next week. They have changed their tv programming to accommodate. Who can ever tell but there is certainly still a lot of speculation, as there always will be while they persist with a person that we and they know is inadequate for the job.

  24. stephentardrew

    Oh damn Kaye I wanna know the juicy bits.

    I am not laughing.

    Like a sad seagull you left us hanging in the wind.

  25. Kaye Lee

    Sorry Stephen. Until I see it happen it remains rumour to me regardless of the leaks that are being put out there. Politicians use journalists in a tawdry way and I much prefer facts than being manipulated.

  26. Catsman

    “The highly respected and longest serving parliamentarian with over 40 years to his credit” — I think this is a bit over the top when describing Ruddock. Sure, Tony is reacting out of all proportion again, but I don’t think anyone should be sanctifying Ruddock — he is a twisted character in his own right.

  27. Zathras

    The problem with that sort of “whirling dervisher” strategy is that all his opponent has to do is hold him off long enough for him to run out of steam and exhaust himself.

    Looking for a quick knockout punch is a gamble.

    In Abbott’s case he spouts aggressive and foolish statements in the hope of shutting down further debate but inevitably they end up having to be retracted or clarified so any debate moves away from the subject to his own words, with the inevitable consequences we are now seeing in the Polls.

  28. Keith

    Abbott has shown his style with Putin as well; looking the tough man, and later acquessing.
    Bishop did his dirty work in relation to President Obama’s comment about the Great Barrier reef. She looked silly as the science is on the side of the comments President Obama made.

  29. Andy

    PopsieJ, actually there are 39 of them. We just need another 13 to follow suit.

  30. Kerri

    In Abbott’s case he spouts aggressive and foolish statements in the hope of shutting down further debate but inevitably they end up having to be retracted or clarified so any debate moves away from the subject to his own words,
    Nail on head Zathras!
    This is how he controls the party room. He is a public bully so we can safely assume the spots remain when he is bludgeoning his party into supporting him blindly!
    They are all too terrified of him to argue!
    I was utterly astonished at the media’s slackness in not picking up on Abbott’s “I beat them” rhetoric!
    This is a clear admission of his intent. He held back from saying I will beat the Unions! I will beat the Labor supporters! I will beat the Australian public until they do things my way! As Paul Keating said
    ” Give me the job or I’ll wreck the place!” He has the job and considers it a mandate to wreck the place!
    As for his utter hipocracy in insisting on numerous enquiries into anything left wing he dislikes, whilst staunchly opposing a Federal ICAC?

  31. May

    Kayla Lee,

    I remember you mentioned last week (current affairs) signalling tv program rescheduling at the end of the month (for some wide event). This may have something to do with what is happening in Indonesia, last week the execution seemed to go as plan (for end of the month). And this week it looks like it has been postponed for a later time.

  32. Ian Ellis

    The most accomplished Oxford boxer from the time Abbott was briefly there remembers Abbott as someone with a disastrous technique, who had selected boxing because he was ‘hopeless’ at the other sports he had tried out for, and who instinctively shut his eyes whenever an opponent threw a punch at him. This eye-shutting was diagnosed as a reaction to ‘fear’. His ‘whirling dervish’ flutter of poorly aimed punches was also diagnosed as a desperate reaction to ‘fear’.

    Abbott is intrinsically a coward, a coward who collapses instantly someone stands up to him. (When Gillard delivered her misogyny speech, Abbott was physically and emotionally shattered. To punish her for this attack, we had to wait for an expensive and unproductive Royal Commission, remember?) While I believe him to be cowardly, I also believe him to be a psychopath – a condition that he cannot help, but a condition that certainly disqualifies him for the role of our Prime Minister.

    I believe that someone who likes Abbott, (if that someone was much more articulate than poor stammering Abbott himself), could write an accurate and believable article full of praise for the character of the man. (Nobody who has ever lived is only equal to his/her worst features, after all. A murderer might also grow beautiful roses, e.g.) But Abbott is clearly nowhere nearly good enough for his current job. (Perhaps he has some pet maggots that he deeply loves, however?) It would be really lovely if his Party could work out a quiet way of dumping him. (e.g. Cancer of the eyebrows? Prince Phillip wants him beside the bedside? etc.)

  33. Greg

    The more we see and hear, the more we discover how ugly the character of the man is.

  34. helenmarg

    Perfect comment PopsieJ.

  35. corvus boreus

    Wayne T,
    Here’s the Faifax take.

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/prime-minister-tony-abbott-awards-matehood-to-john-booth-publisher-caught-up-in-icac-inquiry-20150220-13je0u.html

    This on the day that a ‘friendly’ paper (Rupert’s ‘strayan’) reported him as trying to make another ‘captain’s call’, this time proposing the notion of sending 3500 diggers off to fight in Iraq to a horrified brass (Abbott denies the story leading to the dilemma of who to believe when a liar accuses liars of lying).

    I think that by now anyone who has not cottoned on to the (patterned behaviorally proven) fact that our PM openly embraces (with hypocritical selectivity) dishonest and improper dealings is showing signs of either willful blindness or purposeful ignorance.
    Tony Abbott’s flaws and failings in words and deeds have been so obviously and regularly exposed that there are growing signs of a growing general contempt at his conduct, even within the ranks of his own faction and followers.
    I think that Varanus tonii will not hold office come the ides of March.

  36. Dame Lacey Bra

    So what is the female equivelent of “matehood” a sheilahood? Should I change my name to Sheila Lacey Bra? It just doesn’t sound right.

  37. Pingback: Tony Abbott … meet Dr Carl Jung – Written by Lyn Bender 3 March 2015 » Political Reality in Australia

  38. Pingback: Tony Abbott … meet Dr Carl Jung – Written by LYN BENDER | winstonclose

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