12 February 2007

Speaking Plainly - Repercussions

I think I was wrong. Perhaps straight talk in Australian politics is not the standard.

Just one day after saying that al Qaeda would root for a win by Obama (or other Democrat, anti-war candidate), his honesty has come home to roost. The headline in The Australian reads, “Rudd launches offensive on Howard over Obama attack”. Kevin Rudd, the opposition leader, put forward a motion of censure. As reported in the above-mentioned article:

Labor's censure motion refers to Mr Howard's “false statement” that his comments were directed only at Senator Obama and criticises Mr Howard for damaging the Australia-US alliance.

It also accuses Mr Howard of “gross insensitivity” for lecturing the United States on Iraq when the war has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 US servicemen and women.
I find it odd that a Prime Minister who supports the war in Iraq damages relations with the US by voicing his feelings concerning a politician who is clearly against the war (and who, as far as I know, does not have a plan for what comes next in Iraq…in fact, now that I think about it, isn’t that what a lot of people are really upset with the Bush administration for: taking action without thinking through all of the consequences? More on that later).

Anyway, back to the previous point. John Howard calls Obama on his anti-war stance and is faced with censure by the opposition (which failed) because he supposedly has damaged the US-Australia alliance. Leaders from other countries allied with the US bad-mouth US politicians as a matter of course and are praised, as they are seen as somehow standing up to the big bully, the US. So, take one side, you’re censured. Take the other side, you’re praised.

And then there’s the “gross insensitivity” comment. A lot less “sensitivity” and more responsibility, from the top to the bottom, would be a welcome change. But that, too, is a subject for another time.

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