Australia’s first female Prime minister, Julia Gillard delivered a 15 minute blistering smackdown of opposition leader Tony Abbot for his hypocrisy in attacking a member of her party over sexist text messages. This is want Mr. Abbot said:
Mr Abbott was perfectly within his rights to put forward the motion that speaker Peter Slipper should be immediately dispatched. Most Australians feel likewise. But the words Mr Abbott chose to deliver this message were not only vicious but monumentally stupid beyond belief. Who are his advisers – the Sydney University young liberals?
Here is what Mr Abbott said: “I must allude to the vile anatomical references to which this Speaker appears to be addicted in his text message… Should (Gillard) rise in this place now to try and defend the Speaker, she will shame this parliament again… And every day the prime minister stands in this parliament to defend this Speaker will be another day of shame for this parliament, another day of shame for a government which should already have died of shame.”
Can you believe Tony Abbott used that phrase? Can you believe, after every drop of water that has flowed under the bridge since (Alan) Jones’ ill-advised speech to the young libs, that the would-be Prime Minister of Australia still thinks it fitting to poke further fun at the death of the sitting Prime Minister’s father. Can anyone believe that?
Alan Jones made the remark that M. Gillard’s father had “died of shame” over her politics at an Abbot fund raising lunch. The aftermath caused advertisers to pull ads and Mercedes Benz took back the $200,000 car on loan to the broadcaster.
The Prime Minister, who is 51, unmarried and has no children, has been told to “make an honest woman” of herself, a “slut”, taunted with signs saying “Ditch the Witch” and worse.
At naked capitalism, Yves Smith notes that Americans politicians could take some lessons from PM Gillard:
Look how Gilliard speaks effectively and energetically, referring to notes only when she needs to read quotations, for fifteen minutes. As YY indicates, the context is clear enough that you don’t need the backstory to infer what happened.
Do we have a single politician in the US who could command attention for that long and deliver a blistering attack with so little in the way of props? I suspect this is one of the by products of the Commonwealth tradition of “question time,” in which government ministers have to deal with the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debates, while in the US, we have far more staging and far less real controversy in our political discourse.