Most people will have heard about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the five stages of grief. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having trouble working out where Tony Abbott in terms of what stage he’s at.
Listening to some of his comments, I have to conclude that he’s just like he’s always been: all over the place and not at all consistent.
Then we also have his great friend Andrew Bolt. Bolt is easier because, consistent with nearly everything else in his writing, he’s fluctuating between the denial and anger stages. I call Bolt, Abbott’s friend because that’s exactly what Bolt wrote earlier this week.
“See, I don’t think Abbott is a great man because he’s my friend. He’s my friend because he’s a great man.”
So, in Bolt’s world, greatness is a prerequisite before you attain his friendship. Mm, anyway back to Mr Abbott.
Evidence of the first stage is everywhere.
Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
This explains his non-attendance in Parliament, although this could be more consistent with a much later stage, depression:
Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
The denial stage also explains his rather bizarre interview with Ray Hadley where he expalined that he could have won the next Federal election because – in spite of a losing poll streak resembling The Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters – people were going to change their minds and vote for him in the only poll that counts. Just look at the great result in the Canning by-election. A mere seven percent swing. The change to Turnbull had no effect. No sir, I, Tony the Great would have achieved a similar result.
And in the same interview, we have a swing to stage two:
Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.
According to Tony, the forces plotting against him knew that they had to move before Canning because if they waited, there’d be no reason for a change. A mere seven percent swing would have been viewed as time to pop the champagne and dance in the street. As for replacing Credlin or Hockey, well, it was a myth that doing that would have changed things. You see, this was brought about by individuals “keen for advancement”. It was nothing to do with his performance because, well, none of the policies have changed.
See, it wasn’t because of his performance as Prime Minister that anyone moved against him, The lack of a change in policy just proves what a commendable job he was doing. Said quickly this sounds all right, although to me it’s a bit like a sacked policeman arguing that the law hasn’t changed so there was no reason to remove me from my job. Actually, it’s probably more like a sacked football coach telling us that the game plan hasn’t changed in the week since his sacking so the score is irrelevant.
As for the other two stages, let’s start with stage three:
Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
Mm, now isn’t this what he did when he survived his “near death experience” back in February? “Give me another six months and I’ll change. I’ll turn things around. Just give me another chance.”
Of course, the final stage, acceptance, doesn’t seem to have happened unless one counts his speech the day after his party room defeat. You know, the one where he promised no “sniping”. Still, this one does take time and maturity, so I don’t expect to see it in the days before Christmas.
But I’ll let Andrew Bolt have the final word:
“Those I love best are people of honour, warmth and kindness.
“Tony Abbott is one such man, and that he has been betrayed and deposed doesn’t just break my heart. It makes me fear for this country. I can only hope that Australians will one day wake up to what they’ve tossed away.
“Sorry to sound so melodramatic, but here are some glimpses of the man I know — ones that put the lie to the trash that even big-name correspondents peddled about him.
“A woman hater? Ask his daughters or female chief of staff. Ask the many women on his staff, so loyal that he had one of the lowest turnovers of modern prime ministers.”
Yeah, sort of gives new meaning to the term “hard right”…
Actually, I wonder why his wife was left of the list of people to ask in that “woman hater” paragraph.