Loss of Tony Abbott as prime minister is a time of sooking

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Managing editor David Donovan has managed to get his hands on an earlier, even more raw and honest, draft of Andrew Bolt's celebrated love letter to Tony Abbott. You're welcome!

NOW Tony Abbott is gone, I can finally tell the truth ― something I almost never do. Folks, as you may have guessed, I have had a severe brain implosion.

No, no. I don’t think telling you about my profound mental collapse is a mistake.

In fact, I think it is my duty to make an absolute laughing stock of myself in the public domain. After all, brain snap or not, that is my day job.

I want to talk about how Tony Abbott was cruelly dismissed as Australian Prime Minister, without the Australian people ever gaining the immense satisfaction of voting him and his party out in a landslide.

It is true that, in many ways, he seemed too moronic for the job, yet still he destroyed more in two years than the last two Labor prime ministers achieved in six.

Compare. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard left us with record deficits after blowing billions on public schools for trashy children, insulating poor people’s homes, green schemes to save the planet and “stimulus” cheques that saved the Australian economy from recession. What a waste!

They meanwhile showed some compassion to asylum seekers fleeing war zones, recognised that global warming is real and forced the nation’s worst polluters to pay a modest price for their dangerous emissions. Stupid hippies!

But Abbott? I won’t go through the whole list: how he stopped the boats and scrapped the carbon and mining taxes.

Okay, so I just went through the whole list.

And he did all this in the face of astonishing and unprecedented criticism from the media. Well, not News Corp outlets, obviously, but some of the other ones. And not only that, but he faced feral opposition in the Senate. Opposition in the upper house, imagine! Something no Australian prime minister has ever had to contend with before.

But your mistake, you grubby nation of gay marriage lovers, was not to care about all that. Stopping and axing things didn’t count with you. Image was all.

And so you told the pollsters you didn’t like Abbott. That you despised him bitterly. That the sight of his face made you feel violently ill. All because you believed the verifiable information written about him in non-Murdoch newspapers, until his MPs finally saw reality and dumped him.

How dare you!

Your mistake was that you didn’t only read my columns and some of the editorials published in The Australian, and actually observed the way Abbott conducted himself ‒ the way he spoke, the way he walked, the way he ate a raw unpeeled onion like it was a delicious granny smith apple ‒ and noticed that he was quickly turning the nation into an international laughing stock.

You even laughed at some of his rare qualities and pubic service. Journalists ridiculed his tiny red budgie smugglers and body hair. They dismissed his constant appearances in hardhats and hi viz uniforms as opportunistic photo opportunities. Wrote off his cringeworthy monarchism as loyalty to his birth nation, whose citizenship he may or may not have renounced.

Such cynicism he endured.

When he appointed himself Minister for Women after only appointing a single female to his first cabinet, people called him a paternalistic bigot. When he warned that our finances were in strife or that a "death cult" was "coming for each and every one of us”, people asked why he doubled the deficit within his first few months in power and whether he was exaggerating the shit out of the threat from ISIS for cynical political gain.

And you believed them. You let people treat like absolute dirt a man who had a record of volunteerism no prime minister has equalled — pretending to work in Aboriginal communities, going on countless charity fun runs and triathlons at public expense, and standing around in firefighter gear near people fighting actual bushfires.

And none of it was done just to puff his CV for an election pamphlet. As you know, the Liberal Party hates glossy pamphlets.

The only reason I know Abbott helped people secure their homes after one Sydney storm is that my wife’s uncle is a press officer at the PMO and he sent me a press release.

Shush, said the captain. He doesn’t like people knowing.

Now, I must declare straight up — I call Tony Abbott a friend. A friend who is a boy. A boy friend, if you like.

So you’ll call me biased. Outrageously, relentlessly, idiotically biased. You’ll laugh uproariously that I can write such an embarrassing love letter to him when almost everyone else is horse-laughing (whatever that is). You'll say that I am actually a bit of dick and then lampoon me mercilessly on social media. And you’ll say that’s why I see qualities in Abbott when there are actually none worth mentioning.

But you’ll just be making another mistake.

See, I don’t think Abbott is a great man because he’s my friend. He’s my friend because he’s a great man. And because I am also a great man, I can see how great this great man is. So great and full of such great greatness that he is far greater than the people who tore him down. The ingrates.

He’s my friend especially because he’s not those things that so many journalists wrote — unless they wrote that he was great, like I did. A lot.

Truth is that Abbott is rarely a thug, bully, racist, fool, liar, woman-hater, homophobe or bigot. He’s seldom cruel or lacking compassion. At least while the cameras are rolling.

But even if he were those things, he would still be my friend. And not only because Rupert told me he had to be, but because he’s totally awesome. So dreamy.

Tony Abbott is such a big man, and that he has been betrayed and deposed doesn’t just break my heart. It crushes it into a million tiny little pieces. I hope Australians will one day wake up to the Prime Minister they tossed away. Just because he happened to be a tosser.

Sorry to sound so foolish and embarrassing, but here are some glimpses of the man I know — ones that put a lie to the truths that even big-name correspondents peddled about him.

A woman hater? Did you know he has three daughters and a wife? Just how many woman haters have daughters and wives? A ha!

A crash-through insensitive bully with no people skills? Ask my children how gentle he was with them when he called around. Actually, you'd better not.

Or stupid? Just minutes after Malcolm Turnbull told Abbott he was challenging for his job, Abbott still honoured a promise to meet girl guides rather than hit the phones to save his prime ministership.

Financially illiterate? Well, when I once asked why he wouldn’t buy off his critics by sacking Joe Hockey as Treasurer, Abbott told me he kept Joe Hockey for his immense numeracy and economic skills.

A homophobe? Abbott actually had a very close friendship with one of my gay friends ― and I wasn’t even jealous.

In fact, when one Fairfax writer this year accused Abbott of having a “possibly homophobic” moment, a gay adviser on Abbott’s staff texted me in a rage: “If PM was so homophobic, he wouldn’t be in the shower with me right now.”

Every Prime Minister thinks they don’t get the press they deserve. But I can assure you that none has been so different in the flesh from what you read in the papers. If only journalists responsible for this great slander could see the Tony I see.

Yes, I know Abbott made mistakes, and I was hard on him at times. Sometimes painfully hard. I know he was too stubborn. And I know he was clumsy and stupid and naff. That he repeated himself constantly and may well have been suffering from dementia pugilistica.

I admit I even quarrelled with him privately, when he too-nobly refused ASIO’s offer to whack Labor leader Bill Shorten over some detail of national security.

I could have shaken the silly bugger. Kill Bill, I said. But no, Tony played politics like John Howard played cricket. 

God, he wouldn’t even do the populist thing and just promise to build our next submarines in Adelaide, just because he had a secret agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Did I mention he was loyal and trustworthy?

But that was Abbott, and for me caricature always counts more in the end.

That’s why I say: this country has despised and rejected a great man. And so it is a time of great sooking.

You can follow David Donovan on Twitter @davrosz.

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