CHRISTOPHER DORE: Trump just told the truth about Rudd. And that’s bad news for Australia

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Christopher Dore
The Nightly
7 Min Read
Donald Trump has slammed Australia's ambassador to the United States, former PM Kevin Rudd.
Donald Trump has slammed Australia's ambassador to the United States, former PM Kevin Rudd. Credit: The Nightly/GBNews

Kevin Rudd was always going to end badly.

It always does with Kevin.

Rudd thinks he’s a genius. A master diplomat. And it is a credit to him that he convinces so many otherwise clever people to agree with that assessment.

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Maybe it’s just easier to agree with him.

As Anthony Albanese said recently of the man who has more than once brought him to tears, Kevin is “relentless”. He meant it as a compliment. Shivers still pulse down the spines of those who have suffered at the hands of Relentless Rudd.

Other words used by his Labor ministerial colleagues include “psychopath”, “narcissist”, “control freak”, “chaotic”, a “bastard” who had “contempt for the Cabinet, the Caucus and the Australian public”. Julia Gillard, the former prime minister on whom he exacted brutal, bloody drawn-out revenge, most famous for her misogyny speech against Tony Abbott, once described Rudd as physically imposing, “bullying”, “menacing” and “angry”.

The ripping irony of Donald Trump’s priceless intervention on Rudd on British TV overnight is that every negative word ever uttered about the former prime minister by those who know him best could equally apply to the presidential aspirant. Although few describe Trump as smart.

Exquisite also that Trump would say of Rudd: “I hear he’s not the brightest bulb, but I don’t know much about him.”

Not being known to Trump would irritate Rudd. What would infuriate him is being described as dopey, a sign Trump knows a little more about the Ambassador than he’s letting on.

The only surprise about the predicament Rudd finds himself in today is that any one is surprised.

But Rudd’s ego was always too big for this job, and Albanese should have known it. Maybe he did, but you know, Relentless Rudd.

Humiliated and eviscerated by his colleagues, Rudd rapidly won his revenge, reinstated, under sufferance, by Labor and later rehabilitated as Ambassador to the US by Albanese.

Rudd’s well-documented, inglorious character flaws, and professional failures, were erased, with Stalin-like efficiency, from Labor Party history, replaced by a universally accepted new label. He is a man of admirable “diplomatic prowess”.

As Trump storms toward the White House for a second time, his assessment of Rudd, already being briefed as a sting orchestrated by the Murdoch family-owned Sky News, is bad news for Australia.

Did you know, Trump was asked that Rudd had said of him, among other things that he was a “traitor to the West” and “destructive”?

“He won’t be there long if that’s the case,” Trump said.

“I don’t know much about him. I heard he was a little bit nasty.

“I hear he’s not the brightest bulb, but I don’t know much about him. If he’s at all hostile, he will not be there long.”

The ramifications for Australia if Trump, the current presidential favourite, were to succeed in winning a second term are obvious.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong defended Rudd on Wednesday. Rudd isn’t going anywhere. He is a “very effective ambassador, he is recognised across the government as doing an excellent job in advancing Australia’s interests in the United States”. He had embarked on a “phenomenal amount of work” on AUKUS, “is extremely active” and his “experience and skills” meant he would work with whomever was president. He might. But Trump won’t.

Albanese chose to scold Peter Dutton rather than address the crisis he has created by injudiciously giving his mate Rudd such a sensitive and important role. Asking about Trump’s remarks were a “cheap shot” and meant that Dutton was “not fit to be prime minister”. Funny, back in 2010 that’s exactly what his current Cabinet colleagues, like Penny Wong (Rudd’s current boss) and Tony Burke, thought about Rudd when they knifed him barely halfway through his first term in office.

Hawke-Keating era legend Graham Richardson is the only Labor figure to call Rudd out today:

“It is in Australia’s interests for him to be moved or recalled. You have got to acknowledge that if the US President doesn’t like our ambassador then you have got to get someone else because we need an ambassador to ring and have the President pick up the phone. And you are not in that category, then you shouldn’t be in the job.”

“Trump is a very difficult person but when it comes to being a difficult person, Rudd is the king, there is no doubt about it.”

In his own defence, Rudd just three months ago, said of his injudicious interventions and reflections on US politics that he was simply talking as a serious policy analyst when he said, among many other things, that Trump was failing to act like a “responsible grown up”.

Or when he tweeted Trump was: “The most destructive president in history. He drags America and democracy down through the mud. He thrives on fomenting, not healing, division. He abuses Christianity, church and the bible to justify violence.”

“The general consensus” Rudd said is that every serious policy person, in the world, thinks Trump, well, “… he’s nuts”.

Rudd, the Ambassador: “My comments in the past have been those of an independent think tanker,” he said.

“I haven’t done them as the Australian ambassador to the United States and frankly in this country as an independent think tanker people expect you to exercise a wide latitude of engagement in the public policy debate and I certainly did so.”

Think tanker? Rhymes with?

Rudd loves playing silly games. Thrives on saying one thing in private and another publicly, in leaking against enemies while conspiring with them, in briefing journalists only to accuse them of lying. Manipulating, word-bending, torturous hypocrisy. It eventually catches up with him.

Fortunately for him, being from the Left of politics, over time his idiosyncratic inconsistencies are forgotten by most in the media and forgiven by most in his own party.

He is a master manipulator of the press. Shamelessly facilitating leaks to advance his career.

His ludicrous campaign for a royal commission into News Corporation, temporarily mothballed during his Washington DC post, is met with enthusiasm by some editors and executives with whom he shares a long history.

Sure we will hand over extensive contemporaneous notes of our first hand experiences, conversations, and collaborations with Kevin. Where do we sign?

He hounds anyone who writes negative stories about him, (note to Ed), nitpicks and endlessly (relentlessly) raises complaints with the regulatory bodies. He even had the gall to formally complain to the Press Council about The Australian asserting that he was to be named US Ambassador by Albanese, claiming it was a lie that must be corrected.

The problem with Kevin Rudd is he can’t help himself.

His yearning for love, adoration, admiration, respect, likes and follows, who knows, has always clouded his judgment.

His penchant of hypocrisy is only matched by his capacity for revenge. He is like The Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s epic slasher two-part film Kill Bill. He just won’t give up until he disembowels everyone who crosses him.

The only surprise about the predicament Rudd finds himself in today is that any one is surprised.

When he was Prime Minister, he concocted the most egregious act of betrayal against the then President of the United States, which should have ended his career as Australia’s leader, maybe did, and certainly should have ruled him out of ever being the Ambassador in DC.

As documented in memoir, Rudd, while consuming alcoholic drinks, allowed legendary editor in chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell to listen in to a speaker phone phone call with the then US President, George W Bush. He subsequently engineered, and worked with, Mitchell to later publish the graphic details of the call, which had the effect of mocking Bush’s intelligence.

Remember this was the Australian Prime Minister actively humiliating the US President, the leader of our no.1 ally.

When publication of the story backfired on Rudd, as per form, he denied it, and sought to shift blame to Mitchell and his newspaper instead.

So how did we get here? Rudd v Trump.

Well we almost didn’t. Rudd wanted to be the United Nations Secretary General and thought he had his mate Malcolm Turnbull’s support to get him into the post.

Turnbull as PM backed the move, but was overrun by his own Cabinet and the Australian Government failed to back the Rudd candidacy to be the world’s no.1 diplomat.

Responding to a furious Rudd, Turnbull said he was not suited to the role “because of your poor interpersonal and management skills”.

“That was about as tactfully as I could put it,” Turnbull says.

According to Turnbull, Rudd replied: “You little fucking rat, you piece of shit! I’m going to get you for this.” What followed was a “torrent of obscenities”.

And in a portent of what we face today, Turnbull says to Rudd: “Look, Kevin calm down … you don’t get what you want and immediately you are screaming at me, swearing at me, threatening me.”

The PM reported the call to the head of DFAT at the time, Frances Adamson. “Yikes,” she said.

Albanese knew all this. But, hey, Kevin is relentless.

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