It’s probably too early to indicate a trend but it appears from recent polls possible that the more the Australian public sees of our new Prime Minister the less they like him. Nevertheless it may not be too early to start deconstructing why that might be.
Now the blog has an inbuilt concern about a Pentecostal like our PM. Having been to Oberammergau to see the new production, stripped of its anti-Semitism partly due to the scholarly deconstruction by James Shapiro of the old version but with a lot of help from others, the blog in one of the meal breaks sat with some families who had children working in Sydney at Hillsong and other evangelicals.
At the time the blog thought it was probably pointless to say it was an atheist only interested in a cultural event which had been transmogrified into something different from its original, but in retrospect it has reflected on how much the audience’s modes and speech patterns resemble that of our PM. While it is commonplace to refer to the PM’s rhetoric as being modelled on marketing mantras instead they are rather like the sort of evangelical stuff one hears from modern day evangelicals if not quite Elmer Gantry stuff.
A more illuminating version of the evangelical audience was a man who sat in the row in front of the blog during the Oberammergau with a copy of the Bible periodically muttering that they weren’t keeping to the story. This may have been because the new post-Shapiro version makes it clear that Jesus, if he existed, was a Rabbi and the Last Supper was a Passover dinner.
One can imagine the PM communing with these people – particularly as he wants to shift the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem along with the US evangelicals who fervently believe the Apocalypse will come when Jesus returns and sinners, Jews, Muslims, atheists and others are sent to burn in hell while they reside in Paradise. If you think this is a joke you might remember that this is the worldview of a significant number of Republicans – including national and State congressional members. If you are not sure who they are – they are normally the ones caught out in various sexual escapades.
A more critical viewpoint, formed after the blog went with its grandughter to the Royal Melbourne Show, is that the PM’s style combines the evangelical stuff with the style and approach of fairground spruikers. On the day the blog went the rain came down and the spruikers managed to rapidly shift from spruiking their rides and games to selling umbrellas – welcome however over-priced. Again, with the benefit of hindsight, the rhetoric and approach resembled that of our PM.
The other problem with the PM’s style is the constant reiteration by supporters in the government and the media that the PM is being ‘authentic’. Authenticity is the ultimate goal of any brand image but the problem is that it needs to be genuinely authentic and not manufactured. It’s not like honest and sincerity which Groucho Marx memorably described as – if you could fake it you had it made. In contrast, if the PM is actually authentic then we are in deeper trouble than we thought.
Another problem is that the PM’s blokey persona is hardly representative of modern Australia whatever members of his party fantasise about the base as Wentworth and, possibly, Warringah, demonstrate.
But the more profound problem is that the Government keeps shooting itself in the foot – with examples too numerous for the blog to list. But one example might suffice. For some incomprehensible reason The Age (14 November 2018) published a piece by one of the government’s right wingers, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells in which the statement was made that: “Now, whether one believes that CO2 is plant food, vital for the health of the planet, where the climate has been changing since the beginning of time, or whether one falls into the “Al Gore” camp living a state of nervousness because Armageddon is just over the horizon, it remains important that we deal with today’s realities and the impact of climate change.”
Well, ummm, only nutters and Mad Monks believe the first part of the statement and presumably the article is either simply a preview of what Fairfax will be like under Nine control or a Blackadder style cunning plan to increase the ALP vote in the forthcoming Victorian election. But, at the least, it gives away the hard core beliefs of members of the Government and their incompetence in framing choices.
And, as for the implication of this for the forthcoming election, the blog recently looked up the FiveThirtyEight Bayesian model for predicting election outcomes. It’s not perfect because of a whole host of variables but it is a useful guide to probabilities. In the case of the Australian election, with a prediction possibly more robust than in an electorate with voluntary voting and widespread voter suppression, the probability of Bill Shorten becoming PM is about 75%. However, as Nate Silver said about his probability estimates for the 2016 Presidential election – would you take the same odds of a Trump victory in a game of Russian roulette?
Just don’t trust a spruiker offering you better odds.