How Abbott stuffed up Musselgate

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The Opposition got their political strategy diabolically wrong on Tuesday, says Bob Ellis, and it will show up in the next honest poll.

Peter Slipper / Tony Abbott

IT IS WORTH looking back on what happened on Tuesday and how the Opposition, those born-again male feminists, got it wrong — so wrong.

Their plan, like that of Brutus and Cassius, was to execute, suddenly, the second highest official in the land, and devastate his wives, brothers and children, because he had compared a woman’s labia to a sea creature, and thereby harm the Prime Minister, a woman, for defending his right to a day in court and a proper process and a judge’s verdict, then in train. They imagined this would hurt her more than them.

But they somehow forgot the gender of the Speaker, homosexual*, and how much his sudden stabbing on the floor of the chamber would look like a poofter-bashing. And how soon after his dignified speech of surrender, in which he forgave Tony Abbott, the voting public would begin to think his punishment was disproportionate: a fine of two hundred thousand dollars and a public flaying for one word, ‘mussel’, in a private communication to another homosexual — something Julian Clary might have done, or Ellen DeGeneres. Or that great public figure, Les Patterson.

Their next mistake was to attack the Prime Minister, a woman, for not joining in this poofter-bashing, for wanting to give this gay man a little breathing-space, a small, brief, dignified pause before his guillotining.

This is what was happening, what we who write for television call ‘the emotional line’. A poofter, bashed. A woman, heterosexual, pleading, like Portia, for a quality of mercy that is not strained.

Their next mistake was to abuse in the most hectic terms for hours thereafter the Prime Minister, a woman, for showing mercy, mercy of all things, to this persecuted gay man, painting her in the colours of Sir Les Patterson, and imagining this would go down well with the female electorate ― many of whom have gay brothers and sons.

Their next mistake was to say that, though he was a stain on their democracy and should quit his seat without delay, they would accept his vote until he did. That he was a better man than Craig Thomson, lately found innocent of everything, and not a bad sort, really.

They thus offended the rules of the emotional line. They cursed the Prime Minister for associating with him, and said they would associate with him too. They broke the basic rule that a villain stays and villain, and does not suddenly, at curtain fall, become a buddy.

They also, amazingly, forgot the rule that it’s not a good look to bash a woman, and that the Prime Minister, a woman showing mercy to a foul-mouthed gay man, looked better than those who were currently kicking his balls.

It is not to be wondered, therefore, that the Prime Minister, not they, was praised all over the world, and why half a million female voters went to her, not them.

The Murdoch media, of course, is pretending, in their Tea Party way, that it was Abbott’s victory, and the Prime Minister, not he, was fatally slimed by the unjudicial slaughter of the man he now wants to be mates with. But anyone trained in drama will see he has erred, mightily. And the honest poll, the Nielsen, will show it in eleven days’ time.

* Editor’s note: For the record, the assertion made here by Bob Ellis that Peter Slipper is a homosexual is that of Bob, as well as a large proportion of the Australian community, but not IA, which has no fixed opinion on this matter. There is no crime in being a homosexual, however we note that Peter Slipper is married to a female, has never declared that he is homosexual and we have never seen any compelling evidence (as written about yesterday,) that he is, merely hearsay and innuendo.

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