Now the blame game

Do you, like me, bristle as you hear the political class playing the blame game?

Seldom have we been so inundated with such a plethora of reports, inquiries, Royal Commissions and sundry investigations into past blunders. The Ruby Princess episode springs to mind, but there are many others. They all have something in common. They address the same question: ‘What happened?’ The oft-repeated rationale for the question is that we need to know this so that we can avoid it happening again. That is nonsense. What has happened is usually patently obvious to anyone reading the report of the event, and how to avoid a recurrence equally obvious. While how to avoid a repetition sounds a reasonable aim, the actual motivation is to apportion blame.

The political class revels in the blame game. It is another form of adversarial behaviour masquerading as legitimate discourse. We wrote about this in Is adversarial behaviour damaging our democracy?

As soon as a report is released, politicians do not ask how ‘How did we mess up so badly’. Instead, they first seek to find someone or some body to blame. They usually begin by asserting: ‘It wasn’t us’. Political opponents are then targeted with vigour. Even-handedness in apportioning blame is not an option. Scoring political points and damaging the reputation of opponents, is all that counts.

We are surprised when a politician concedes an error; we expect that such a concession will be accompanied by ‘Our opponents did the same’. When a minister makes a blunder, no matter how monumental, colleagues spring to his defence. We saw this recently when minister Colbeck showed his ineptitude so starkly. Yet he was defended by his colleagues and his spineless ‘leader’ did not sack him, as he should have.

I won’t burden you with a long recital of examples of the blame game. Just think of Donald Trump.

When did you ever hear him accept blame for anything?

When challenged with America’s surging unemployment, he insists that, rather than being to blame, he is tackling it with outstanding success. When challenged with America’s faltering economy, he not only refuses to accept blame, but asserts that it is booming as never before due to his superior management.

When asked about the wild spread of COVID-19, he insists he’s not to blame, refuses to accept that his unpreparedness is responsible and even disputes the extent of the epidemic in the US, and the hundreds of thousands of deaths that have already occurred. Who will forget the interview he had with aspiring journalist Jonathan Swan, who challenged him so stylishly with a set of uncomfortable facts that laid the blame at his feet. He was not about to accept Swan’s assertions; he had alternative facts of his own, which he lamely offered on pieces of paper. When Swan retorted: ‘You can’t do that’, Trump looked astonished. In his world, he can do or assert whatever he likes.

In our own country the blame game is in full swing. Who is to blame from the spread of the virus in Victoria? Dan Andrews is the prime target of his opponents, but the ‘bungled’ hotel security arrangements comes a close second; again Chairman Dan the culprit. Opposition leader O’Brien has his daily whinge about Andrews’ ‘bungles’, laying the blame heavily on the Premier for anything that is not going well.

Do politicians realise how much voters despise them when they play the blame game? They seem oblivious to the disdain they attract, as they do in so many other instances. They live in their Canberra bubble disconnected from the real world outside. They are elected to understand the issues that affect us and the problems that beset us, yet how often do they offer us understanding, comfort, reassurance and advice. They let us down collectively, and often individually as well.

When politicians play the blame game, they demean themselves. Yet they seem oblivious to the harm they do to the political class, and the disdain they evoke. Will the ever wake up? I doubt it.

Rate This Post

Current rating: 5 / 5 | Rated 25 times

Ad Astra

7/09/2020

If you want a further example of how politicians play the blame game, take a look at Scott Morrison’s press conference this morning. His criticisms of Dan Andrews were not even thinly-veiled. He went in full bore. After extolling the NSW Liberal Government’s case tracing performance, he went on to contrast it with Victoria’s ‘poor’ efforts. He did not mention the improving figures in Victoria; nor did he give Dan Andrews any credit for Victoria’s progress. He blushed as he spoke - he knew he was playing the blame game as hard as he could.

Frances

7/09/2020

Politicians all lie; why would we believe them now.  Lockdowns, curfews, distancing, masks, closing bs, etc. will not eliminate this virus.  99.98 of those tested positive will survive.  We should protect the elderly and chronically ill not prevent the healthy from going about their business, to work to school. 

SteveFitz

7/09/2020

The best weapon in the fight against corruption, including lying politicians, is the truth. The political sword is the truth... And, it's worth fighting for because, that's all we have if we wish to make informed decision and hold people to account.

Regarding Covid-19 v Seasonal Influenza - While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the fraction with severe disease appears to be different. For COVID-19, data to date suggest that 80 of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15 are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5 are critical infections, requiring ventilation. Though some symptoms are similar between influenza and COVID, 20 of people become seriously ill from COVID.

Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data available so far indicate that the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases is between 3-4. For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually well below 0.1.

Australia today: 26,322 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 762 deaths gives a death rate of 2.89 and a survival rate, including the 5 critically ill, of 97.11. So, a footy match with 100,000 infected spectators will finish with 2,890 dead spectators laid out in the middle of the field. 15,000 will have severe infections, 5,000 will be critical requiring ventilation and the rest can go home in a state of shock.

SteveFitz

14/09/2020

Thanks Ad - People who are highly susceptible to myopia, loss aversion or confirmation bias simply don’t get the looming threat of covid-19 or catastrophic climate change for that matter. The rest have a profit driven vested interest or, have been brain washed by main-stream media to support the financial elite at the expense of society and the future of their own families. It's called shooting people in the left foot so they lean to the right. With corporate front man Scott Morrison holding the smoking gun. I think he blushed because he forgot his lines not because he knows he's full of crap.

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