ANDREW CARSWELL: When will the real Anthony Albanese stand up?

Andrew Carswell
The Nightly
4 Min Read
ANDREW CARSWELL: When will the real Anthony Albanese stand up?
ANDREW CARSWELL: When will the real Anthony Albanese stand up? Credit: The Nightly/The Nightly

This is the second version of this column. The first draft was far too gleeful. You could hear the laughter and scorn jumping off the page.

Undeserving? Didn’t say that.

Undignified? Oh boy.

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So no, this won’t be another column pouring over the intricate details of Anthony Albanese’s egotistical brain fart on the lawns of Parliament on Sunday, where he berated a baying crowd of women, mansplained his way into medal contention, embarrassed the host and reduced her to tears, and made a monstrous societal problem, that is finally gaining the airtime it has long deserved, into a story about him.

About Albo.

No, it won’t be a column filled with claims of vindication, or a regurgitation of all the offensive, calculated and self-righteous things Albanese said of his predecessor in their moments of miscalculation or use of poor words, nor will it be a reminder of that salient Biblical principle of sowing and reaping. No one is even talking about Karma here, people.

That version met the shredder, cathartic as it was in the writing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first draft of this column leant too heavily on those raw experiences from within the Morrison Government, where the constant barrage of personal attacks and character assassination from Albanese himself was merciless and vindictive. This inhumane political tactic was the singular modus operandi of the Albanese Opposition, a mob devoid of any policy substance or narrative.

Just bullets.

It was a time when missteps and mangled words — like on Sunday — were exploited in brutal fashion, despite the sensitive topics, despite the rawness of victims, despite the seriousness of the occasion.

All politicised for the glory of Albo. As explained in the previous draft. Not here though.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Credit: Lukas Coch/AAPIMAGE

But despite the temptation to salt the wounds, this is the type of history that should not repeat itself, even when the current crop does dumb things.

Because it is wretched politics. It’s unedifying. And as proven, takes an enormous mental toll.

And to be frank, no one actually needs to make those points to make those points.

Because Anthony Albanese finds himself, through his own actions and words, up a creek without a paddle, and any effort to make hay of his misfortune by a Coalition with very few runs on the female board, would merely gift the PM an oar.

Did you see Peter Dutton out yesterday carving up the PM for being tone-deaf, insensitive to women, or a megalomaniac?

No. Didn’t need to. They all heard. They all saw.

Dutton no doubt locked himself in a room and put some hefty guards on the door to quell any hint of temptation to empty the contents of a jerry can on an already impressive bin fire. Wise.

Because it is now up to Anthony Albanese to explain himself; to drag himself out of a hole, and ensure that his galling moment of “Do you want me to speak or not? I am the Prime Minister” doesn’t end up defining him.

It’s terminal if it does.

How on earth did Albanese get here? How is it possible to turn up at a rally for women protesting about the increasing violence against women and insult them, lie to them, and reduce the event organiser to tears?

When you elevate yourself above the public. When you think your opinion matters more than others. When you’re entitled. When you think you’re always right.

You can get away with not being a good economic manager, or policy expert, or a clever communicator if there is a public perception you’re a decent bloke.

But what happens when that is taken away? As it was on Sunday.

This is the inherent danger of high office: Your ego is coming for you. Unbridled, it will gobble you alive.

But some things are just innate.

For months, Australians who are increasingly frustrated with Albanese’s poor performance as PM and his insipid leadership during times of genuine national pain and division, have been asking a simple question: When will the real Anthony Albanese stand up?

Well, he just did.

And he took hold of the microphone.

How does Albanese get through this? Because mistakes compound in politics. You try your best to move on, but another misstep and you’re deeper in the mire. Little mistakes suddenly appear worse than the original sin. You try to change topics, but the press pack ropes you back. There is blood in the water. Every word is over-analysed, misinterpreted, and beamed to the masses.

And all the while the grim reality of modern politics hangs over your head like a guillotine: One more big stuff up, and you’re toast.

That stuff messes with your head and invites certain errors and misjudgment.

How to move on?

Certainly not by meandering around on breakfast TV, unable and unwilling to answer simple questions of who was right and who was wrong, knowing that the true answer —the one you desperately want to give, to defend yourself — would get you in even more trouble. Victim blaming. Heard that before. See version one.

Don’t fight it.

Just own it.

And until you do that. You’re stuck here.

Andrew Carswell is a Morrison Government Political Advisor

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