I’ve said it ad nauseam; this election campaign has been appalling. No substance, little policy and surprisingly, not even much hype. Yesterday however, the circus descended into a farce.
The Prime Minister’s media minders decided upon a strategy to continue this ridiculous “real Julia” campaign by announcing to all and sundry that she would, and then did make her campaign launch speech sans notes or auto-cue. We were told that she would be “unscripted” and “off the cuff”. One wonders what this was supposed to suggest. Was it to distinguish Julia Gillard’s oratory from the staccato ‘high school public speaking” style of her predecessor Kevin Rudd? Was it to suggest that she is more genuine than Tony Abbott’s image as a man of the people? Was it supposed to suggest that her grating drawl somehow belies her passion and fire? The real question is what does it matter?
We have unfortunately come to accept that gone are the days of conviction politicians like Howard and Keating (regardless of what you thought of their ideology) and so are the days of statesman-like political speeches. Regardless of this, we’ve also come to expect that any public speaker uses notes of some kind or another. If nothing else it goes to preparation. If nothing else it allows a speaker to stay on course if indeed passion does take over. So, the reality is, nobody would have cared one way or the other if The Prime Minister had a prepared speech or not – except that Labor made such a big deal about it.
So when it was revealed that like most any politician, Julia Gillard did indeed have notes on the lectern, she was made to look foolish.
Now everybody makes mistakes but it’s how a person reacts to, or rectifies those mistakes is the true measure of integrity. When a starved and lazy media pack discovered the gaff, she could have just said “Of course I had notes. Doesn’t everybody?” But not our Julia! She decided upon the Bill Clinton defence of “I may have had notes but I didn’t inhale”. What a sham! To make mistakes is human, but to then back track when you get caught out and come up with a mealy-mouth excuse is just ridiculous. I expect politicians to lie to me. I just can’t stomach being treated like an idiot.
Remember when you were a kid and you shouted “look Mum, no hands!” you generally fell flat on your face. Well, so it was for Julia’s “look kids, no notes!”