There can only be one of two reasons behind Kevin Rudd’s decision to challenge for the ALP leadership. Some saw it as this: to salvage a few seats for the party facing obliteration in the September elections. That sounds admirable, but that doesn’t sound like Kevin Rudd. It’s too sacrificial. If that were the reason then he has clearly put the party ahead of his own aspirations and would be content with being prime minister for a few short months before leading a ravaged party from the opposition benches. Again, that’s not Kevin Rudd. I don’t think Kevin Rudd would welcome the prospect of an uncertain political future.
I subscribe to another reason he challenged for the leadership. He believes he can win the election.
He defeated a more politically astute opponent in John Howard in 2007 with one simple trick: he screwed with Howard’s head. Between now and the election he’ll do the same with Tony Abbott. He knows he can do this or he would not have made his eventual play for the leadership.
Leading up the the 2007 election Rudd was well ahead in the polls, but it wasn’t until his total carving up of Howard in the leadership debate that I felt confident he’d be moving to The Lodge. Howard, the master politician, was publicly humiliated. So much so, he even lost his own seat.
Tony Abbott doesn’t give me much confidence as a political opponent who could handle the same mind games that brought Howard undone. Rudd knows this. Rudd must surely have been planning for this. Rudd must surely be aware of Abbott’s weaknesses that until now have been given little currency. Calling someone a ‘misogynist’ does not necessarily resonate with the electorate. Witnessing a public unhinging does. Between now and the election Tony Abbott will find out soon enough that Kevin Rudd means business.
Rudd knows he can win the election. And Rudd knows that the only way of achieving this is, simply, by screwing with Abbott’s head. He certainly is vulnerable.
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