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Regarding insignificant questions and spontaneous swearing

Hard-hitting cutting-edge political commentary goes right to the heart of an issue. The best practitioners carefully sieve and weigh competing ideas, contentions, and stories. They present lots of facts and figures. Also they use lots of long descriptive passages unleavened by punch-line or explosion. It can’t be helped. Political commentary is serious stuff. If you want gripping drama then turn over to Game of Thrones.

So modern political commentary is, at times, boring. Perhaps even deliberately boring in places. It can’t be helped. It’s just not appropriate to slip in a gag when discussing the deficit. It tends to diminish from what is considered a suitable gravitas. Harrumphing and long winded responses are considered appropriate. After all, there are acres of newsprint and hours of television to fill. So our political columns are full of boring ‘facts’ and ‘policies’. Apparently it’s what editors’ want and demand. Therefore we all suffer endless similar long boring interludes just jam-packed with reasonable people being reasonable about a whole bunch of entirely unreasonable ideas and things.

This does not reflect the general consensus. Just think back on any one of your most recent discussions with a fellow citizen regarding a politician or politicians in general. Disregard all the simple slander and outright abuse and you are left with a lot of far more directed and pointy questions than any being asked in the press.

In our private lives and on the streets most Aussies are carrying around big studded metaphorical baseball bats and are ready to instantly bash the metaphorical shit out of any passing metaphorical political figure. We are not only expecting to be further disappointed, most of us believe we are currently being lied to by virtually all of our politicians regarding most issues. We jointly expect that each of the major parties are ready, at the drop of a hat, to abandon any of their pre-election pledges and do whatever is pragmatically in their own best interests. We all expect our politicians in general have a whole bunch of far more important priorities than the ‘public interest’. We also expect them to put their personal interests in front of ours. In the main Aussies simply do not hold politicians in high regard.

So while there are important and significant questions being discussed that are well-deserving of serious consideration, there are also lots of other not-so-important but still bleeding-obvious questions that are usually getting asked as our attention drifts from the page or screen. Sometimes they are simple and naïve queries like, ‘Does Julie Bishop know her default setting is ‘death-stare’?’ Or ‘Why doesn’t someone tell Bill Shorten a shiny blue suit makes him look like an insurance salesman?’ Also it seems that nobody can explain Christopher Pyne? For example my brother winces just on hearing his name. When I asked ‘why’ he explained ‘It saves time.’

But there are mainly lots of not-so-funny questions that seem to be asked urgently of friends and family. Usually in an exasperated tone. Questions like: why does our PM have a whole bunch of bank accounts in an overseas tax haven in the first place? Why do our politicians want to talk about reducing carbon emissions and then take lots and lots of money from carbon emitters and then approve every coal mine ever proposed, all at the same time? Is there really any reason for a DD apart from Turnbull’s numbers going down? Why do most of the press like Turnbull and most of his colleagues hate him? Is Barnaby Joyce really our Deputy Prime Minister? What happened to a budget emergency? Who will take over from the next PM halfway through their term? Why are we opening new coal mines when the Great Barrier Reef is dying? And why is everyone is talking about what the tax take will be in 2026?

These might seem like irascible and somewhat argumentative questions but that is the current mood of the Australian electorate. How long since you last heard someone exclaim: ‘Do they really think we’re all idiots?’ Or ‘I just don’t want to think about it.’ Or ‘What did [he/she] just say?’ All while gesturing in a futile sort of half-waving and half trying-to-throttle-someone sort of way.

This is, of course, apart from the compulsive fits of swearing.

Swearing, like spontaneously muttering bleeding-obvious questions, is also a natural by-product of any recent Australian election campaign. Swearing serves a different function though. It’s just the sound of an existential pressure-valve hooting while it releases pent-up pressure. In most instances a fit of quiet and private swearing is just the ticket. We’ve all seen what it does if you resist the urge! Look at Ruddock and MacFarlane fr’crissakes.

So it’s simply best to just let your pressure valve do its thing, then as soon as the red fog fades and you can consciously concentrate on conjuring up a picture of a field full of kittens, or some other suitable calming image, you can get up and make yourself a nice cup of tea.

In an office or in public this can all be a little embarrassing, but during an election period, for the most part, we all become familiar with encountering someone staring off into the middle distance, or at their shoes, whilst quietly muttering mild obscenities as they try and regain some sort of a grip on what is currently passing for reality. In most cases it is just dismissed as being yet another symptom of ‘Election Campaign’. So we give each other a break. After all, the only perfect cure for this particular social malady is to take a deep breath, swear quietly under your breath, and then close your eyes and ears for about 80 days.

But still nobody ever seems to ask the obvious questions! Or even interesting ones. Mind you it doesn’t matter what questions are asked, politicians all seem to just tell you what they want to tell you regardless. But why does Scott Morrison always look as if he just remembered he left the stove on? Why does Albo dress like he’s about to go to work as a pit boss in a casino? Does anybody really watch Andrew Bolt? And who really cares what Peta thinks? I suppose we will never know.

I might go and ask the wife. Or I might just go and make a nice cup of tea and then maybe close my eyes for a while.

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  1. FreeThinker

    James, I share your sentiments.

    Duncan, the part-time truck driver on Q&A this week asked a question that many in the Press Gallery dare not entertain let alone articulate, such is the ideological gravitational force impacting on them from their MSM employers.

    The novelty, openness and the sheer incisiveness of Duncan’s comments stunned the Australian community, in this interchange between Duncan, Innes Willox and aspiring ruling class aspirant, Kelly O’ Dwyer.

    Duncan’s pithy retort to Innes Willox that he didn’t pay tax, ( ” I pay tax every time I go shopping” ) highlighted powerfully, the oft-forgotten reality that in the profoundly economically unequal nation that Australia has become, the GST works regressively against the poorest in our community.

  2. helvityni

    Wonderful post, Moylan, I ask those questions, and then some more, all the time, but I’m not getting any effing answers…

    Are all our journalists busy pleasing their editors in the hope of keeping their jobs, are our/your ABC people worried about losing their funding even more…

    Hopefully I’ll find some answers here on the AIMN…?

  3. Adrianne Haddow

    Swearing works for me.
    Unfortunately there aren’t enough swear words in my thesaurus to express my outrage at these cretins in suits on big salaries, pocketing largesse from the likes of Gina, Twiggy and Rupert.
    Oh, and us.

  4. helvityni

    Adrienne, I started swearing at the time when Abbott became our PM. So far there has not been any reason for me to stop…

  5. Adrianne Haddow

    Helvityni, maybe if we combined those swear words into 3 word slogans, they might achieve the same success as the Liarbrils’ slogans.
    Axe the tax, ditch the witch, stop the boats…….
    Sadly, ‘sack the bastards’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  6. Keitha Granville

    You answered the question yourself James – it doesn’t matter if someone asks the obvious questions, they won’t get an answer. I’d like to see some sort of electric device attached to each politician when they’re being questioned. As soon as they begin to answer they should receive a jolt if they’re not sticking to the point. I suspect most of them would be completely fried. It’s like question time on parliament – no-one ever answers completely, and they seem to be allowed to do that. Who invented that rule ? It should be changed.
    Duncan was brilliant, I am just hoping there’ll be more Duncans before this campaign is over – asking the bleedin obvious.
    Can we hope for this in the People’s Forums organised by Sky ? Probably not.
    Write to your own MPs and ask the questions, and if they don’t respond adequately – tell them !

  7. Vikingduk

    Field of kittens you say, ease the tension, reduce the the urge to swear, to rage, you say. Not my field of kittens, my kittens have the faces of this horrible lying morally bankrupt arsewipes that comprise this shitty thing called our government. But wait, they are being devoured by a pack of monstrous wolves, go you f*ckers, rip and tear, monster these poisoned toads. Yes, that works

  8. Wam

    What a lovely read.
    IDIOTS We who are too lazy to join the party to select our pollies.
    My bias is so strong that the only thing I heard the rabbott say that I found worthy of thought was a flash about Gillard who he described as selected not elected.
    All pollies are selected except the two who selected an unmarried female atheist over a married, deeply religious Rhodes scholar. How disastrous must have the meeting where he’d sell his arse to be PM been
    Back to idiots! Why would we expect morning show autocues to have questions that require more than 5 second answers. So why did the rabbott and his merry men give the same answers regardless of the question? Because the questioners had no ownership of the questions and the audience cared only about answers!
    If bill could get a few questions small enough to fit on an autocue the twits will ask them.
    Loved the ‘Is Barnaby our PM? How about is there a National Party?
    My question:
    Is the ABC too lazy, too incompetent or just disingenuous to make 4 points to the compass? The Nationals per contest attract far more support than the greens yet are not featured with the result no participant can be anything but a liberal or a mongrel.

  9. Margaret McMillan

    Great article, thank you! When it comes to the questions journalists ask, I am not prepared to forgive them for letting so many untruths go unchallenged. But worse I am starting to realise is what they talk about in their self-congratulatory discussions on programs like The Drum and The Insiders (hubris in the name, anyone?)

    It’s as though the electorate does not exist for them. What they are interested in is the interaction they themselves have with politicians, and their own opinions. I tried to watch The Drum one evening recently; all participants were talking about the steps the politicians had taken, the things they have said, and whether the journalists think it was a wise move or not. They love being front and centre, and each is keen to be the one who gets the result right.

    It seems to me that ABC journalists in particular are so excited about this chance for them to shine, that they forget what their real job is, which is to report what is happening, and, dog forbid, give us some background on policy. As far as the Murdoch media and the radio shock jocks are concerned, I am still amazed that it is legal to write and speak the crap they do.

    No wonder swinging voters just make their decision on headlines in the Telegraph or on something Alan Jones has said. It’s all they’re getting, and it makes a mockery of our democracy.

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