Ruddwatch: Heavy Kevvie’s Campaign Appearance on 7.30

WITHOUT LABOURING the point (no pun intended), Kevin Rudd has made another appearance on the ABC’s 7.30 programme; in an atmosphere of rising private panic in the ALP, the Prime Minister’s performance was not just the effort of a petulant bully, but will do his party’s fortunes no favours.

Someone seems to have forgotten to tell Rudd — if, indeed, he would even deign to heed the warning if offered — that he is not the securely ensconced leader of a government defending an overwhelming parliamentary majority.

Rather, he seems blissfully unaware that he is a cat’s paw recruited by his colleagues — their nostrils filled with the acrid stench of his enforced presence — tasked with either winning an election when the odds are stacked against them, or at the very least, falling just short so as to optimise their party’s prospects three years hence.

Rudd reappeared last night on the ABC’s 7.30 to face another grilling by host Leigh Sales, and it really does appear that Rudd is either trying to throw this election, or is so self-assured in his conviction that the propaganda and spin he passes off as serious discussion actually cuts it with real people that he is blind to the fact it is anathema to them.

Have a watch of last night’s performance here if you haven’t already seen it (or if you have, the 20 minutes to reacquaint yourself with it will be well spent, trust me).

Rudd obfuscates, he dodges questions, he provides answers that are irrelevant to the propositions put to him, and he blathers.

He spins, he draws heavily on his arsenal of clever answers and smart phrases.

He demeans, he belittles, he condescends to Sales.

Sales, to her credit, kept to the point, hauling Rudd back to the question every time he attempted to stray into a ramble on a topic that suited him, and calling him on his flagrant non-answers to some of the less convenient aspects of Labor’s record in government.

She also got a couple of decent jabs in on the subject of Julia Gillard and the 2010 election, and Rudd’s “role” in it: the formulaic response was fair enough, but as is ever the case with Rudd, the apoplectic look of near-detonation on his face told the real story.

And for a little bonus — when the issue of the Murdoch press’ recent savage attack on him in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was raised — Rudd trod what I would say is a very dangerous line indeed, closing out the interview with what appeared to be a thinly veiled accusation of improper dealings between Tony Abbott and figures within News Limited.

On the whole, it was grubby, shabby appearance by a grubby, shabby Prime Minister.

But if this is the way Rudd wants to behave when provided with prime time interview space on one of the country’s premier current affairs programmes, who am I to criticise?

Back later today with more on the election trail.

Ruddwatch: Kevin’s Arrogant, Patronising 7.30 Interview

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.

Wayne Swan And Labor’s Position On The Budget

FOR BALANCE…I have been made aware that by posting an audio track of Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey’s interview with Alan Jones on 2GB this afternoon, I may have exhibited political bias; to remedy this, I am posting to ensure Wayne Swan receives equal coverage here at The Red And The Blue.

Actually, this could well be seen as an over-correction; not only does Swan get a visual as well as auditory exposure, but his interview with the ABC’s Leigh Sales on 7.30 last night is the longer of the two interviews as well.

Readers can view the Swan/Sales interview here.

Wayne Swan gives an active account of both himself and the budget he delivered last night; I thoroughly recommend readers of all political stripes watch this interview as it offers an excellent insight into Labor’s budget strategies moving forward.

My apologies to those offended by omitting airtime of Swan; here it belatedly is.