COINCIDENTALLY — one day after we posted on Kevin Rudd’s explosive 7.30 Report interview in 2010 — the Prime Minister reappeared on the programme last night; in a provocative and unbelievably arrogant performance, Rudd neatly demonstrated that he hasn’t changed. At least, not in a positive sense.
Between now and the election, and as regularly as required, “Ruddwatch” will feature in this column; after the trip down memory lane in Tuesday’s post — and Rudd’s follow-up appearance with Leigh Sales on 7.30 last night — it seems fairly clear that whenever the Prime Minister opts to turn in performances so dripping with arrogance and hubris as to be almost stomach-turning to endure, we should call him out on it.
We’re not talking about “a good government that has lost its way;” we’re dealing with an exceedingly poor government collectively clutching at a set of skeleton keys and praying that one of them just happens to unlock the prison cell door.
For those looking for a reason to vote for the Labor Party, it was not on offer last night.
And for those who didn’t see last night’s piece, I strongly suggest you watch it here. It is as instructive as it is cringeworthy.
In a coded jab at former Prime Minister Julia Gillard (on the day footage was published of removal trucks at The Lodge), Rudd opted to appear from the Prime Minister’s office rather than make the short trip to the studio; it might be a small point, but to back his rhetoric about healing and unity, surely decency dictated that just once, he might refrain?
He didn’t, and it set the tone for the entire piece.
Sales, to her credit, didn’t hold back against Rudd, and straight out of the box questioned how people could ever trust Rudd again; his answer wasn’t good enough, but it needs to be remembered that Rudd is a law unto himself at the best of times.
In an echo of Gillard, Rudd was big on rhetoric — a lot of rhetoric — with no substance to speak of behind it.
As he has been for some days, Rudd continued to demand a debate on the economy, claiming Tony Abbott didn’t have the “ticker” to debate him, despite the fact Rudd has failed to outline a single policy since resuming his office.
He needs to remember that he is actually the Prime Minister, and that he — for now — is the leader of the government, and not Abbott.
Unlike Gillard, who failed to behave like a Prime Minister, it might be better for Rudd to do so and to stop acting like an opposition leader.
He even failed — twice — to get his barbs right when discussing the Coalition’s policy on asylum seekers; twice he thundered about “three word slogans” only to then talk about a policy of “turn the boats back.”
It might be a small point, but it does point to Rudd not bothering about the detail (the correct slogan is “stop the boats”).
But the big takeout from this interview was the overbearingly arrogant, patronising, almost bullying approach he took to interviewer Leigh Sales and her questioning.
Heavy sarcasm. Constant references to “conversations with officials” and the like. Casual references to the “advantages of being Prime Minister” and similarly pompous remarks. Attempts to rub Sales’ nose in her questions by trying to make her look stupid. Glib name-dropping of international organisations Kevin personally “works” with to deflect unwanted questions.
And of course, there was a total refusal to admit or accept any fault for the mess over unauthorised boat arrivals that had its genesis in the first year of Rudd’s government; as he tells it, he was simply fulfilling an election promise.
Never mind the resulting mess, though. You don’t own your failures if you’re Rudd.
And once again, he shied away from recommitting to his rhetoric of 2008-09 that climate change is the “greatest moral challenge of our time.” That question did, however, give him another opportunity to name-drop; this time in relation to the Chinese government.
Rudd presented as smug, bombastic and dour, with a big dollop of “smartarse” that he is famous for; taken in conjunction with the arrogant belligerence that seems to characterise a Rudd interview even now, and the liberal sprinkling of his skin-crawlingly grotesque attempts at the vernacular, this appearance adds up to one big turnoff.
And perversely — in light of everything else this performance contained — Rudd is, and let’s not beat around the bush on this, as boring as bat shit to listen to.
If the 7.30 interview is Rudd’s idea of how to excite people, then the election campaign proper promises to be a real hoot.
This column will continue to monitor Rudd and his activities, and whenever he puts in a shocker like he did last night, we’ll dissect it in detail, and bring it to you right here.
After six years of shambolic, dysfunctional government by a Labor Party riven with internal conflict and now hobbled by the consequences of its latest machinations, this column is absolutely determined to hold Kevin Rudd to account.
We are prepared to give credit where it is due, but to the extent we can will not allow Rudd to behave as he did last night without, at the very least, calling out his faults.
This is not a new government; it is a dying one.
This is not a new leader; it is a tarnished one.
And if last night’s performance is indicative of Kevin Rudd’s plan to win over lost floating voters and Labor supporters, then it deserves to fail — and fail badly.
Finally — for those smarties on the Left wondering where “Abbottwatch” is, the short answer is that we won’t be publishing it, but that they can do their worst.
The big difference is that Abbott’s opportunity to prove himself as Prime Minister is yet to come; Rudd has already failed one attempt to do so, and now restored to the job gives every sign of doing so a second time. It is for this reason it is Rudd who is of interest.
We’ll be back with something a little more serious later in the day.