The phrase “unresolved sexual tension” springs to mind. I mean in terms of the way in which certain TV shows keep the audience interested when it’s clear to everyone that there’s an attraction between two people and we keep watching in the expectation that, sooner or later, it’ll happen.
Yes, I know that some of you will be thinking why would anyone care, but I think it strikes that chord in us all where, just like real life, those of us out of the situation can see more clearly what’s going on. You know, the total lack of surprise when the man she met on the Internet didn’t end up using the money she sent for the airfare because he needed it suddenly for his mother’s operation, turns out to be unable to use the second lot she sent because he’s now in jail for Internet scams. Or when he discovers that there is no yoga class that finishes after midnight because that’s the time when your energy is at its peak, and she, in fact, has been practising an entirely different kind of muscular stretching and relaxation!
So, with all the Leadership Speculation, I can’t help but feel that it’s not just going to suddenly go away. It’s not the way it works, any more than the “unresolved sexual tension” plot device could be stopped by the couple agreeing to just be friends. Let’s consider the most far-fetched scenario I can imagine – that all the Liberals actually believe Tony when he says that his mistakes are all behind him and from hereonin, it’s a brand new day. Let’s try to believe, for just one moment, that the press totally exaggerated the ambitions of many of the protagonists in this little familiar soap opera.
Tomorrow we hear the following:
Julie Bishop: “I’m a woman, and I don’t believe that it’s proper for a woman to lead. After all, I made it very clear I’m not a feminist, and you only have to look at what I said when Julia was PM, to realise that I don’t see it as a woman’s job to be in charge. Of course I’d never challenge Tony!”
Malcolm Turnbull: “I had my turn at leading the Liberal Party and look at what a disastrous mess that was. No, I only stayed around to be part of a team doing things that I really believe in. From Direct Action to Our Faster NBN to keeping marriage between a man and a woman, this is a party that I feel is doing exciting things, and I’m just happy to help a superior leader – no, a superior man, cause after all, Tony is so much more a man than me – fulfill his aims and ambitions for this country.”
Scott Morrison: “I don’t want to be PM, because then I’d occasionally have to be nice to people, and the last time I smiled it hurt.”
Joe Hockey: “I prefer to do what I do best which is hang it on Labor for my inability to deliver a surplus. Let’s face it, when I’m asked about anything that doesn’t have to do with figures, I can’t number out what to say. And they’d want me to stop with the cigars, but nobody mentions Bill Clinton at this point!”
Bronwyn Bishop: “I only moved down from the Senate to be PM, but I suspect my time has passed and I give Tony the same loyal support I’ve always given him as Speaker!”
Christopher Pyne: “I wish someone would say that I had sex appeal, like Fiona whatshername.”
Mal Brough: “This is about as credible as me meeting with James Ashby… Which I did, but even thought I did nothing wrong apart from lie about it, that’s forever tainted me, and I have less chance than Arthur Sinodinos of being put back on the front bench.”
Arthur Sinodinos; “I have no recollection of being elected, or even why I was elected, let alone anyone who may have ever asked me anything.”
So, no challenge. And as far-fetched as the above non-existent quotes may be (actually the Christopher Pyne one is pretty close to what he actually said just before the election), can you imagine the media just giving up? Or would it be more likely to be something like this:
“In announcing the sudden death of his mother, XXX, refused to take questions on the leadership tensions within the Liberal Party, and tried to deflect attention to his ‘personal situation’, when questions persisted, XXX turned away and brought the press conference to an abrupt end. This consistent with the line that all Liberals are taking. It seems that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is the line that they’re all going to hold, in spite of the fact that there’s ample evidence from our phone hacking that some of them are actually talking to each other.”
No, this fire will only be doused with a spill. We all know that. It’s foolish of the Liberals to pretend otherwise. This is Howard/Costello with the slight difference that nobody’s gullible enough – unlike Peter – to believe that the PM will stand down for the good of the party. If Abbott wins the spill, he’ll have some breathing space, but only until his next stuff-up. If he loses, the press will stalk him, waiting for the cracks to appear, but the new leader will at least have a moment or two to suggest a different direction for the government.
Of course, Abbott could call an election to clear the air. He may believe that would force them all, Rupert included, to forget the past and all fall into line behind him. And well, with their support, he may even win, giving him the sort of power he thought that he already had. And if he loses, well, serves them all right!
Not that he’d think like that!
Surely . . .