Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bob Down

So Bob's gone, abandoning what is arguably a sinking ship with enough time to swim to shore and hide before he gets blamed for it.

Broggie reckons he would've beaten Bob in 2007 and he's probably right, and that's probably why Bob's exiting now with relative dignity (for a politician).

As I moved to Sydney in early 2003 I only caught first-hand the tail-end of his reign, but I came to develop a sneaking respect for him. An intellectual homo - oh, woops! Why did I type that? Of course he's not gay. Bad typo - who could still market himself as a man of the people, people who voted for him to be Premier 4 times. I guess a hopelessly incompetent Opposition helped with that, too, but still.

I believe his best skill was his populism, not pleasing the most amount of people all the time, as few pollies can do that nowadays, but displeasing the fewest amount of people. I don't imagine many pollies can receive ringing endorsements of interest groups and individuals ranging from John Laws to the G&L Rights Lobby to Christian Democrat LC Gordon Moyes to peak business groups to environmental lobbyists, but that's what always struck me about him - he was the consummate politician. Like John Howard, but less evil.

This isn't to say Bob wasn't also shamelessly ego-driven. He obviously stayed in the last twelve months solely to surpass Neville Wran's record as longest-serving Premier, and in that period his boredom and apathy while waiting for the milestone was obvious. I remember him hanging Michael Costa out to dry last year as CityRail moved from comical to pure farce, making no attempt to defend him against angry commuters and basically saying it was totally understandable and acceptable for people to be furious and wanting to vote against them at the next election. That's when I realised Bob wouldn't be there when it happened.

I don't hold out much hope for our next premier. Andrew Refshauge has probably gone further than any Left faction member in NSW could dream of going within the party by winning Deputy Premier but he's under no illusions that he could get the numbers to go for the top position, so he's out. That leaves us with Right faction boys Morris Iemma, Carl Scully or John Watkins. In all three cases I'm literally yawning with anticipation. None will be able to replicate the undeniable Carr magic so we can look forward to the dangerously born-again NSW Liberal party winning government in 2007 and reversing the queer rights achieved under Carr's reign, not to mention running our trains and hospitals even further into the ground.

My inner Margaret gives the Bob Carr movie 3 and a half stars; my inner David 3. I hope Bob enjoys his retirement being ruggedly heterosexual with Helena.


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