Well, after a good night's sleep and a bit of a think, count me in on the Julia side.
It seems Rudd isolated himself, and treated the caucus and the cabinet with seeming indifference.
Why this is so, I don't know.
Could this have been his personal nature?
Maybe he thought the parliamentary party needed training wheels until the government matured enough to look after itself? (He did have a very good record of not shedding ministers, after all).
Maybe he knew what the factions would - and still might - get up to once in power and, in a reversal of the usual secularizing process, tried to put God-Rudd in place of the Party in MP's hearts.
Or maybe he just never learnt anything from his time with Goss, or perhaps learnt too much from studying Whitlam (who in Rudd's mind might have been not frantic enough).
Perhaps he worked too hard and lost his judgement, losing sight of the forest for the trees.
Perhaps he was an engineer who wanted to make his product so perfect it'd sell itself (like a Cham-Wow! wunda-wipe). Then he, not a great spruiker with ability to talk in sound grabs, wouldn't have to.
Perhaps he's shy, or arrogant, or too modest to speak up (why wasn't he giving yesterday's speech every Thursday afternoon at 4 o'clock for the last 2 years?).
Or perhaps he just wasn't a politician, in the 'fully-rounded' sense of the word.
There are a thousand cliches that come to mind.
When he took over from Beazley I was about as disappointed then in losing Beazley as I have been over the past few days, losing Rudd. I'd personally gone into bat for Kim - as would have many here - for over three years. I worried that Beazley had been dealt a raw deal, that Rudd didn't have the oratorical skills to be a perfect attack dog, or the experience to get a drifting Labor Party behind him. In the most positive way possible, in turn I worried that Rudd was a nerd, more for his sake than testosterone's. I thought the macho Press Gallery (and that's just the women!) and cruel Labor hacks would tear him apart. Come to think of it, it all came true, of course, but with a famous victory to make it seem alright.
Rudd put iron discipline back into the Party, but the passion went AWOL. He used to tell us of the things he was passionate about, and he was, but it didn't come across as passion. It came across as bureaucracy, structure and politics by the numbers. Everything Rudd said - well, almost everything - sounded like someone had coached him, provided him with talking points. I know he was decent, hard-working, and yes, passionate. But towards the end we saw more of the former, and not enough of the latter. When David Marr wrote his piece I grabbed at it like a starving man. I thought to myself that at last someone else has seen what I wanted to see and had seen in Kevin Rudd: the anger, the fire in the belly. Maybe I wasn't fooling myself after all about Kevin, I thought.
But ultimately Rudd was someone whose passion was kept - had to be kept - always in check, almost as if he was scared to let it go off the leash. I'm the same with one of my dogs. If I let him go he'll get run over by a car for sure, in some mad terminal frenzy of street-crossing, trigged by seeing a cat (or thinking he does). He's his own worst enemy... as was Rudd.
Loyalty to the King is no bad thing. Loyalty, blind, excuse-making loyalty, where you argue until you're blue in the face for your man and his character... that's what politics should be about, or partly so. If we dumped our leaders as easily as we disposed of yesterday's newspapers, there'd be no continuity and no decency in politics, or in life. Perhaps Rudd was well-past his usefulness to the Party, but the Party owed him some momentum, some chance to get it right. I [i]do[/i] think they gave it to him. But it didn't do any good. As Kevin retreated into the PM&C [i]bunker[/i], access to him, advising him, imploring him to see what was happening, became next to impossible.
I agree with Marr that the most signal part of his now famous essay was where Rudd declared he would just "have to work harder" to achieve a victory in the election. I groaned when I read that sentence. I thought to myself that Kevin really didn't get it. No-one was questioning his work ethic. It was his direction (or rather lack of it) that worried them. He was leading Labor in grand circles, and when they arrived back where they started, they were more exhausted than when they started out. Labor MPs and ministers, unable to get to the boss to find out what was happening, had to finally get rid of him.
Rudd would have had a favourite anecdote, one where he illustrated the benefits of determination, grit and punishing attention to detail as helping him out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Perhaps it was in the 'off the record' section of Marr's piece, in that last conversation where Rudd let go at the essayist and told him what he really thought. We may never find out what it was. Whatever Rudd's favourite story about himself, one set of circumstances doesn't necessarily apply to all others as the ex-PM has just found out. Hard work when you've lost your direction doesn't always help. Sometimes it just means you've gone a little bit crazy. Over-work can do that.
Kevin should go home for a month and get a lot of sleep, reconnect with his family and with life and only then come back ready for whatever action Julia wants to give him. She shouldn't give him a task that will allow him to indulge himself too much. He'll only work himself to death, and in the process fail in the task. I don't know what the task will be but it should be simple and possess clear targets. That would be best for everyone, but most of all for Kevin.
In the end Kevin Rudd was the living embodiment of The Peter Principle: a person promoted beyond his level of competency. This doesn't mean I think he was an 'incompetent' person. It just means his skill set was no longer appropriate to the task. Whatever me might say today, of one thing I am sure... there was nobody else at the time - 2006 - suitable for the job (what would they have done to Julia if she had been elected leader in 2006... the thought is almost too awful to contemplate).
Kevin had all the bullet-point attributes in spades - intelligence, charm, popularity, a good policy head, but came to lack a sense of perspective and a tolerance for other ideas. The more success he had the more he, and those in the immediate circle of staff around him, came to believe he was infallible. Still, despite the events of this week, there was no-one else more suitable in 2006 than Kevin Rudd. He got Labor over the line, despatched the hated Howard and all but one or two of his most egregious subordinates, and set down his Party's roots for the future.
In many ways, tremendously important ways, Rudd has been a successful Prime Minister. He won the election. He has preserved his ministry and seen it mature. He saw off a gaggle of Opposition Leaders and hangers on. He initiated ground-breaking policies, heading the country towards the 21st century and away from the backwards-looking Howard fantasies of Queen and Cricket. Indeed, many of these policies have succeeded and are now in place, functioning well. I won't list them. Anyone reading this will know what they are, the GFC triumph right at their head.
But there is someone suitable to take over now. Most importantly Rudd has prepared the ground for Julia Gillard. We have seen her blossom into a formidable politician. The rough edges are off her and she is a hard, tough, steely machine more than a match for any of her opponents... and more than a match for the Labor hacks who might think they have sway over her.
Kevin Rudd held the line until the party caught up with him, morphing it from a loose rabble into a government. His mistake was to hold on too tightly and too long. I for one can forgive him easily and say to him, with love, "Kevin, job well done". It is up to him now to forgive us.
I believe he's man enough to do it. There's an important bonus to it too. In doing so he will of needs be completing the most important task any person can possibly undertake: forgiving himself as well.