He hit me first!

We all have memories of a child bawling its eyes out after being clobbered by another kid. We also have memories of the offender’s customary excuse: ‘He hit me first!’. We tend to label such behaviour as ‘kids stuff’.

But how many of you expected grown-up politicians to ape them?

Yet they do. How sickening is it to see those who ask for our vote, who ask that we trust them to manage our nation, exhibiting such ‘kid’s stuff’.

When the Coalition appointed Simon Birmingham as its spokesman, I wonder if they expected him to so often use the ‘He hit me first!’ excuse? I suspect they might be disappointed with such childish behaviour. Let me explain what I mean.

In the run-up to the election we have been astonished at the number of candidates who have been found to be unsuitable because of past behaviour: guilty of foul insults, racism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, anti-Semitism, white supremacist language and behaviour, homophobia, misogyny, sexism, crude references to female anatomy, vile ’jokes’ about women, dirty language and unseemly behaviour. These behaviours seem to have been stock in trade for countless candidates, whose pasts have caught up with them courtesy of the social media, where misdemeanors are meticulously stored, only to be unearthed at the most inconvenient time.

Every ‘exposure’ of the behaviour of these would-be politicians, selected mainly for unwinnable seats, has been seized upon by opponents and shouted from the rooftops. Every day we have seen politicians confronted by opponents calling for the disendorsement of their offending candidates. The response is always the same: ‘He hit me first!’. Translated into the vernacular of politics, this deciphers into: ‘You have candidates who are as shonky as ours’.

To illustrate this, I offer this transcript of a recent dialogue between Sabra Lane of the ABC’s AM and Simon Birmingham:

SABRA LANE: Two Liberal candidates were dumped or jumped yesterday. Do they match the criticism attributed to Kelly O'Dwyer, that the Liberal party in Victoria is perceived as "homophobic, anti-women, and climate change deniers"?

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I think there's a lesson for both the Labor and the Coalition parties out of yesterday. We saw, and have seen, candidates now disendorsed from both Labor and Liberal ranks. The Labor party's lost a couple of candidates in the course of this election for anti-Semitic issues. There's another candidate under some pressure in relation to making light of rape. [‘He hit me first!’ excuse]. In the end, this is a reminder to all parties to make sure that the vetting of candidates, even those running in unwinnable positions, is thorough.

SABRA LANE: But how worried are you that in Victoria in particular, where your own colleagues admit it's more progressive and not tolerant of these kind of views, that it further damages the Liberal brand?

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Sabra, I just think that there are lessons here that the Labor Party, the Liberal and National parties, all of us need to heed in terms of making sure that our vetting processes are thorough. [‘He hit me first!’ again]. We are the parties of government, and people expect us to have thorough vetting processes.

We do that for candidates, especially in all of the winnable seats. Clearly, some have slipped through the net on both sides of politics in relation to those unwinnable seats.
Let’s leave Birmingham; I’m sure you’ve had enough of his persistently defensive rhetoric.

The Second Leaders’ debate on Sky News gave us another example of childish behaviour.

In what columnists are describing as his ‘Mark Latham handshake moment’, PM Morrison tried to get under Shorten’s guard onstage after tensions flared when Shorten questioned him about the LNP’s big tax cuts for high-income earners in 2024. As Morrison dodged his questions, Shorten scrawled “$77 billion” on a piece of paper and held it up to the audience. Morrison’s retort: “I wouldn’t trust your maths in a heartbeat”, and Shorten’s response: “$77 billion to the top 3 per cent of earners, that’s nice money if you can get it” evoked an encircling move towards Shorten.

Morrison then accused Shorten of having been shifty with a blue-collar worker who wanted to know if he would get a tax cut when he earned over $200,000 a year working in the mines. “You couldn’t look him in the eye and tell him you were going to increase his taxes”, Morrison said as he stepped closer to Shorten, who smilingly responded: “You’re a classic space invader”. The audience and moderator David Speers saw the joke. Morrison didn’t!

Sky News/couriermail.com.au

Morrison hated being challenged so publically before a TV audience of many thousands. His aggressive response – invading Shorten’s space – was yet another example of ‘He hit me first! So I’m going after him.’

It’s all rather depressing isn’t it? On May 18 we are required to vote for our local candidates and senators, to whom we entrust the governance of our nation. Yet so many of them show so little aptitude for their parliamentary role, so little understanding of the issues that ordinary folk consider important, so out of touch with existential environmental threats, so unaware of the social inequity that afflicts our nation, so indifferent to the sheer unfairness that debases our society, and so shonky to boot!

To cap that catalogue of ineptitude, too many candidates are self-centred, focussed solely on gaining the prize of election, aggressively antagonistic to their opponents, and disparaging towards those with different views.

Most distressing though is that every day they exhibit the behaviour we censure in our children: ‘He hit me first!’


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DoodlePoodle

14/05/2019

Simon Birmingham lived up to your “he hit me first” deion yet again last night on Q&A.  The constant scowl on his face said it all.  

Not sure who the Coalition think they fool with their constant bare faced lies.  Seems they have a lot of childish traits.  

TalkTurkey

15/05/2019

There are two types of "He hit me first": the genuine protestation in self-justification of he who really was hit first, and the pathetic false-equivalence type of behaviour so espoused by the political Right.

I have qualified sympathy with the former type, depending upon factors level of provocation, level of response and whether de-escalation by negotiation rather than direct retaliation could have avoided confrontation. But false equivalence is disgusting, it makes me want to hit the offender! I cringe anytime a Labor spokesperson employs the tactic - it doesn't happen often and I can't think of an example but I know it does happen sometimes. But the LNP and the MSM do it habitually. Grnh!

Most people who reckon they know reckon Labor is set to win this election. I'll only be convinced when the votes are in. But surely, surely there must be enough of a pool of sensible people to get us up.

I went to see Bill Shorten yesterday in the seat of Boothby I live. Held forever by Libs, atm by Nicole Flint by name as by nature - she was a prime supporter of Dutton at the Spill. Our candidate Nadia Clancy remains 3 down according to a poll a couple of days ago, doesn't look we'll get this one. Sad.  

I do think we'll win, but what then? This scourge of hatred, contempt for science, abandonment of previous mores of decency, fundamentalism, by so many, how can we ever return to innocence and respectfulness of New Zealand? 

We must rid ourselves of Murdochracy. That's what.

Onward to Victory!

VENCEREMOS! 

Ad Astra

15/05/2019

Doodle Poodle

I too noticed Simon Birmingham's behaviour on Q&A.

The only rationale I can see for the plethora of Coalition barefaced lies is that their minders believe, as did Goebbels, that if you tell a lie often enough, the people will believe it, and that the greater the lie, the more ly they will believe it.

Perhaps their most deplorable lie is that 'Labor can't manage money', when all the veri evidence is that they can, and have done, notably at the time of the GFC. Indeed the evidence, based on the deterioration of many economic indicators over last six years, is that the Coalition can't manage money. It's infuriating isn't it, but Coalition advisers would prefer to go along with Goebbels' dictum and reap the outcomes he predicted, than behave ethically.

Ad Astra

15/05/2019

Talk Turkey

Predicting the outcome of this election is indeed problematic, beset as it is with so many variables. Psephologists try, but how much confidence can we have in their convoluted predictions. Perhaps the odds the bookies offer are more predictive of the likey outcome.

From fragments of information that flutter like confetti from the media and both major parties, there seems to be an uneasy consensus the Labor's chances of success are higher than the Coalition's. We can only hope this is the outcome lest our political system slides still further into the abyss you describe so eloquently: the scourge of hatred, contempt for science, abandonment of previous mores of decency, and fundamentalism.

I agree fervently with your conclusion. Purging our society of the evils of Murdochracy would cleanse political debate profoundly.

TalkTurkey

16/05/2019

Heh. I thought this was apposite!

Peter FitzSimons ? Verified account @Peter_Fitz 2h 2 hours ago More Goodness! #auspol 'They fired the first shot': Barnaby Joyce warns Coalition at stake as Senate civil war rages https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/they-fired-the-first-shot-barnaby-joyce-warns-coalition-at-stake-as-senate-civil-war-rages-20190515-p51nnk.html … via @smh

Ad Astra

17/05/2019

Talk Turkey

Indeed!

I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?