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Malcolm the Messiah and a whole lot more

By George Theodoridis

The performance on last night’s Q&A (8th Nov) was beyond admirable. Beyond shock ‘n awe. Beyond expectation. Worthy of a tragic actor on an ancient Greek stage, one who played Agamemnon, say, or of a Shakespearean stage, one who played Richard II, say.

Actors of the Ancient Greek stage had to be good. Bloody good, since they had to play up to four roles in the one tragedy, roles of men, of women, of children, of servants and slaves, of gods and kings and queens and prophets, of murderers and of men who gouged out their eyes, all behind heavy masks and even heavier costumes, conducting the least possible stage business and exhibiting all of the human emotions.

They had to be good because they were all men and they only had their voice -their man’s voice to perform all these roles. Their full repertoire depended on just that human tool: their voice. Nothing else.

These men were so good at their job that their country often sent them off to other countries to act as diplomats or ambassadors or advocates. Interlocutors. Men like Aristodemos of Miletus for example and Neoptolemos, who, it is said, Demosthenes, the author of legal rhetoric, had paid 10,000 drachmas to teach him how to deliver whole lines of speech (Full stop to full stop) without taking a breath. 10,000 drachmas back then was a sum beyond belief. A soldier would have to survive 10,000 days of service to earn this much!

So yes, ancient Greek tragic actors were good.

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull’s performance was equal if not superior in skill to those ancient Greek actors and to those who played Shakespeare’s works.

When Jones’ introduction ended we could tell that this play would be one of a huge cast, of long held grudges, of Promithean and Epimethean interpreters of events passed and of events to pass, of events of great significance and of events that showed the banality of significant events.

There was our deposed, dumped and politically assassinated Malcolm, cogitating aloud, as was King Richard II to the Duke of Aumerle and as was Aeschylus’ Agamemnon to his brother Menelaos, about the hollowness of crowns, of thrones bereft of honour and of the vacuity of grand titles. The powerlessness of power. And he cogitated with the lyricism and the poetry of Richard II, arguably the most eloquent of all of Shakespeare’s characters and almost as mournful as Iphigeneia’s pleas to her father not to sacrifice her.

And, like the ancient Greek actors, he played many roles.

Malcolm the messiah, was one, Malcolm the king, Malcolm the Phoenix (not a hint of ash about him), Malcolm the Historiographer, Malcolm whose government was “blown up” (as he put it).

What was the number of Caesar’s assassins, as many as those of Malcolm? Sixty, perhaps? The autopsy on Caesar’s body (first ever autopsy) revealed some twenty three stab wounds. The look on Malcolm’s face, though free of any hint of ash, spoke of many more. Too many for him not to say, “I have left politics and I am now back in business.” Some of us could well suggest the man has never left the “business.”

Last night, Malcolm was just one more dumped PM, dumped PMs being a common sight in Australia.

For the first few moments of the show we were asking ourselves if he would reveal his Casca, the first to plunge the sword into Caesar’s body. Was it Scott Morrison himself? Abbott? Dutton? Coremann? Ciobo? That hand around Malcolm’s shoulder was Morrison’s just a couple of days before the dumping. Was that a sign like Judas’ kiss, identifying him to the conspirators in case they got the wrong man?

But we didn’t have to wait long. Malcolm pulled back the black curtains, opening them wide for us to see a phalanx of conspirators, all with knives of glistening steel, shuddering with anticipation: Abbott, Hunt, Cormann, Fifield, Ciobo, Cash, Keenan, Taylor…

Poor Malcolm!

Why did they do it? Why did they blow up the government? Well, Malcolm doesn’t know, and he said that we’ve got to ask them!

Malcolm came on the Q&A stage last Thursday to play the role he knows best: that of the miracle maker: Jesus and Lazarus all rolled into one; in the one act, in the one retelling of the story. Malcolm came on the Q&A stage to resurrect himself, to raise himself from the dead as Jesus allegedly did to Lazarus almost 2000 years ago.

So he listed all his miracles: “We delivered on jobs and growth, strong economic growth, reduced personal income tax, reduced company tax, record investment in infra structure, reformed schools funding, record funding in health and pharmaceutical benefits, record funding and support for Aust. Defence Industry, Australian steel industry, TPP, exemption from Trump’s trade restrictions… the bonking ban, the social reforms, legalising same sex marriage…” and on and on he went reminding us of his miracles. They were endless!

And to play the role of the saviour.

For goodness’ sake, didn’t we, the plebs in the fish markets understand that messiah Turnbull wanted to save us from the devil, Bill Shorten who will indubitably, send us to hell with increased taxes, increased Union power, reduced investment and put our economic growth and the jobs growth at risk?

Didn’t we, in the vegetable stalls and the meat stalls understand this?

Did we not see that Malcolm had descended from heaven to save us from Bill!

Obviously not!

I am still scouring my brain to understand why he gave me and millions of others the right to judge who can love whom and who can marry whom. Why would I be given a right that belongs to someone else? What right did he or any politician have to do that?

I’m still scouring my brain to work out why it is that religious organisations have so much political clout in this country and why schools of a religious “ethos” (scouring my brain to work out what that word means in the context they’ve dumped it in as well) want even more laws to allow them to treat gay students and staff like abhorrent miscreants and to sack them at will.

I’m still scouring my brain to work out why there ever were and still are, refugees who have nothing but good will for this country, who have asked for our help and who found themselves in utter despair thanks to our savage treatment of their country, through bombing and trade restrictions, why are these people suffering Guantanamo-like conditions under our bastardy in Nauru and Manus.

There are lots of other things too, that I am scouring my brain to find an answer to and I know full well that this country has been blown up so totally that this search will bear nothing but despair.

Scomo of course knew and appreciated Malcolm’s acting prowess so he did what Greek Govnt’s did with their best actors: he sent Malcolm to Indonesia to represent Australia as its diplomat in the free trade agreement between the two states, to calm down Mr Joko Widodo who was still unsettled by Malcolm’s dumping and by Scomo’s wish to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Poor Scomo! Malcolm turned his dream into a nightmare.

Finally comes the removing of the happy mask.

“I’m proud of the achievements I was able to make,” the messiah mused forlornly. And it was genuinely a forlorn sort of contemplation. You could see it in his eyes, lids rising and falling as if the weight of misery was upon them.

“I’m not miserable or resentful or bitter at all,” he said. “I am joyful! I got an enormous amount done… I’m very positive about my time in office. It ended sooner than I would like it to have ended and it ended in circumstances that remain unexplained but nonetheless, it was a time of great achievement… it (his dumping) was crazy, pointless, self-destructive.

I wish Scott all the best, I really do!”

But I could hear the words he was thinking, the words he didn’t dare to utter and they were uttered in Chinese: “I wish Scott an interesting crown.”

One like that worn by Richard the Second:

All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!

Richard II ACT III, Scene ii


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  1. Jaquix

    A very interesting and amusing article!

  2. PopsiJ

    A very long article just to say Turnbull was a wanker. ( but well written )

  3. peter

    Being the most useless, corrupt , sociopathic politician, who achieved nothing good and created so much hardship and unfairness to the Australian people, he is obviously living in a different fantasy/reality from us mere humans.
    Does he have fairies or butterflies flying around inside that demented brain of his.
    So sad and angry at the treatment of pensioners, infirm, servicemen and women and the state of our nation.

  4. New England Cocky

    An interesting read for the many literary quotes and examples. However, @peter has a point ….. if Malcolm had been a proper leader and stood his ground against the Rabid Right faction of Toxic RAbbott and the IPA, then like Gorton he would have been seen as a man of principle, rather than suffer the reality of being the talented but doomed opportunist working with political midgets dancing like puppets on the strings held by the IPA and the foreign interests of Rupert Murdoch, the present unofficial Minister for Propaganda in the Trumpery misgovernment of the USA (United States of Apartheid).

  5. ChristopherJ

    Not worth giving MT any more of my attention. Every thinking person knows what happened and he achieved nothing in all that time.

  6. Darrell

    Actions speak louder than words; Malcolm says a lot but achieved eff all. He will continue to spout loads of shit until we all believe his distorted view of his failure as a leader.

  7. Barry Thompson.

    I thought his performance pathetic.He laid claim to things that were beyond his control, such as same sex marriage. He is as delusional as Tony Abbott, unable to acknowledge when he is wrong.
    He still believes he is the smartest one in the room and is condescending.
    New England Cocky nailed it with the comment about standing his ground against the rabid right.Turnbull is smooth and urbane, but was a weak leader.

    Tony Jones gave him too much rein to waffle on.

  8. helvityni

    ” You could see it in his eyes, lids rising and falling as if the weight of misery was upon them.”

    Yes George,the nice suit, the well-fitting shirt, the rehearsed delivery (maybe Lucy’s coaching), none of it helped to hide the pain, the injured pride,not even the brave little smile could change anything; the little hurt boy whose mum left, the sad son who was sent to a boarding school, was there; asking to be loved….

    To the bitter end, I expected “captain’s calls”, none eventuated….

  9. Kronomex

    To paraphrase a song, “I am Malcolm, hear me bore. My sainthood is too big to ignore and I’ll white ant Scummo ’cause I can…”

  10. Stephengb

    In my eyes Turnbull will always be a coward, his snivelling phone call to Trump and his inability to stand up to the extremist bully boys in his party just leaves me with that taste of cowardice.

    It takes a brave man to say they were wrong, it takes a brave man to stand up to those bully boys, it takes a brave man stand for his principles, it takes a brave man to treat people less fortunate with dignity.

    That is at least four “white feathers”

  11. Terence Mills

    I watched Malcolm Turnbull and acknowledge that he was mainly trying to create a legacy for himself but clearly many in the audience and the broader community were extremely disappointed in the way that he constantly capitulated to the noisy Right who hated him and ultimately brought him down.

    The one thing he said to which I reacted noisily – and alarmed the dog – was this :

    You know, think of the big social reforms, legalising same-sex marriage. I mean, what a gigantic reform that was, I was able to do that … I legislated it, right? So I delivered it.

    — Malcolm Turnbull

    Malcolm, you are re-writing history : you allowed the noisy Right wing to force a non-binding and divisive postal plebiscite on the nation, the funding for which was never approved by our parliament. Then to appease them after their loss, you had Phil Ruddock run an enquiry into religious protections which, incidentally, the government are still resisting releasing.

    Possibly the best thing that can be said about Malcolm and perhaps the worst you can say about a prime minister is that he meant well

  12. guest

    “he constantly capitulated to the noisy Right”

    Yes he did, because he sold his soul to the Devil in order to be PM. He was an opportunist without political nous, as he demonstrated many times. The first question to him should have been: Why are you called Fizza by your critics?

  13. Sir Scotchmistery

    Peter, IMHO the one you mean is not Caesar, but his Warringah acolyte, scum from ‘neath the lowest rock, no better than the lichen and filth clinging to an upturned tub of the dumps of a generation of nannied, privileged babes.

    Abbott. Scum given breath.

  14. David Stakes

    Let us sit upon the ground, and talk about the death of Kings. Well this was all Fizz and no Bang.

  15. Zathras

    It was a fine example of the FIGJAM concept at work and now we have confirmation that Turnbull’s ego is much larger than even Rudd’s.

    There was no mention made of his cuts to Health and Welfare or the abysmal implementation of the NBN, not to mention all the personal ideals and standards he happily cast aside after he was elected but to claim some sort of personal victory in outcome of the Same Sex Marriage legislation was a bridge too far for me.

    There was no reason to keep up the facade of political spin so it was always going to be about justification, legacy and political martyrdom but never about failures and lost opportunities.

    Packer once warned people “never get between Turnbull and a sack of gold” but he really craves public attention and affection as much.

  16. Brutus Probitatis

    Will never be anything more than a pompous, gutless, treasonous, greedy, self serving parasitic, Judas!

  17. george theodoridis

    Thank you all for reading and for your observations.

    I sat to watch the show with a strong sense that it was going to be predictable and I was right. I could have put the palm of my hand over Turnbull’s mouth and say to him, “now, Malcolm, your answer to this person’s question will be this:” and recite it. I dare say, I’d be correct in 99% of the time.
    The whole horde of politicians have become now utterly predictable. Their rhetoric is almost identical, give or take some small number of insignificant phrases and they repeat it ad nauseam, thanks to a very lazy media, all of which is copying their ways.
    If one calls a mentally disturbed person a “terrorist” then the rest of the politicians follow suit -jump on the bandwagon, as the aphorism goes- and the media does the same. Almost all of it, from the ABC down.
    Turnbull did not disappoint. At least not in the predictability stakes. So much so that when he enumerated all of his lies with such defiant smugness, one could scream – or spew!
    As Terence Mills said, the man was re-writing history in an effort to create a legacy for himself.

    Thank you Jaquix and NEC for all your kind words.

    helvi, those eyes when he was reeling off his “achievements” towards the end, his fantasies, rather, were so expressive, so window-like that one could see the bitterness bubbling deep at the bottom of his soul, as if it were a cauldron in hell.
    They pleaded to be believed and pleaded to have his sins forgiven but the insincerity was too loud and the despondency even louder. Gabriel has shut the pearly gates on him and he knows it.

    To guest and others who are of the opinion that Malcolm capitulated to the extreme right in the party, or that the extreme right was too strong for him or that he was too weak for them, I am struggling to see how you’ve come to that conclusion. It suggests that Malcolm was not, is not a paid up member of the same gang of Aladdins. Yes, he is more articulate, with a rhetoric that uses a greater vocabulary, has an avuncular face and a silver head, even a slight hint of charisma and yes, one sees a bit of intelligence about him -or, rather a dubious cunning but for goodness’ sake, don’t make him out to be a leftie and not even a centre-right. He IS one of them. Everything he said and did even before he became PM showed that he was one of the mongrel bankers.

    Zathras’ reminder of Packer’s exhortation is a strong indication that the political centre in Malcolm’s head is just too far to the left of his wallet.

    I am hard pressed to see him as anything but a loser of the far right.

    Again, many thanks for reading and for your thoughts.

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