An impressive performance
Coming on the heels of Tom Switzer’s editorial in The Spectator, ‘Howard the Great’, which sums up John Howard’s prime ministership, he himself appeared on the ABC’s Q&A. Everything Switzer said became eminently apparent on the show.
To some of his fellow Australians, John Winston Howard is a figure demonised almost beyond rational understanding. But to many more, he is undoubtedly the greatest living Australian, and he will be feted accordingly next week when his long-awaited memoirs are published.
Those whom Mr Howard called the ‘self-appointed cultural commentators and dietitians’ never could understand his widespread popularity, much less explain it. As for John Howard himself, we suspect he’s amused and pleased to see that, even three years after he was retired by the Australian people, his old foes still underestimate and attack him.
The feting was well and truly there on television. Even Tony Jones, on radio this morning, thought Mr Howard “nimble”. Jones appeared almost in awe of him, showing great deference and respect, to the point of being gracious when caught out several times with unfair or misleading questions. I think he had forgotten, in just three years, just how nimble and intelligent a politician can be. In fact, the feeling in the studio, in spite of the handful of dissenters, gave an overall impression of seeing a stunning performer, on top of the facts, able to answer questions with brevity, incisiveness, and authority. The impressive performance was in stark contrast to the rambling loquaciousness of ex Prime Minister Rudd, and the dreary moralizing of present Prime Minister Gillard. It was truly a class act.
In listening to Fran Kelly on Radio ‘Notional’ this morning in an interview with John Howard, one can hear a riff emerging amongst pro-Labor anti-Howard journalists. Doesn’t Howard regret ANY of his decisions of his time in office? From this group of exasperated Howard haters, they all want to know — even as he emphatically tells them that no — if he had no doubts, no regrets, about what he did. The list is almost endless; not apologizing to the Aborigines, going into Iraq, going into Afghanistan, Work Choices, not retiring and giving the job to Peter Costello, the boat people, children overboard. They cannot believe or understand that he really, sincerely held a different opinion and now has no regrets.
Howard answers with candour that he actually takes full responsibility for decisions, even if they may not have been as good in outcomes as desired, or that they earned him disapproval by some. Would he have done things differently? With consideration of the facts at the time, not at all. Listen to this morning’s revealing interview with Fran Kelly.