“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
~ Usually attributed to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (perhaps apocryphally)
SPEAKING OF FOOLS
Scott Morrison – popularly coined “Scotty from Marketing” by satirical website the Betoota Advocate – may be the last advertising person to lead Australia for many years to come.
This is simply because – far from having strewn his former profession with garlands and ticker tape – the longer he stays in the top job, the more Morrison brings shame and infamy down upon it.
In his book Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell spoke of the three types of people needed to successfully prosecute any venture: mavens (the ideas people), administrators (the people who execute the ideas) and salespeople (the people who sell the ideas). Most people have elements of all three of these archetypes, to a greater or lesser extent.
Scott Morrison is not most people. He has no original ideas and the ones he copies he cannot fulfil. The only thing he can do seems to be to sell and spruik. But without any vision behind his pitches and no substantive plans for their execution, the only possible result can be increasingly disastrous outcomes for our nation.
If Morrison does have any ideas or skills by which to implement them, they concern just a single goal: relentless, cynical self-promotion.
There are many examples evincing this paucity of substance during Scott Morrison's prime ministerial reign — and indeed, even well before, as has been well-documented. As PM, it was evident as far back as the bushfire crisis when he made it known he didn't hold the hose. And more recently, as rape allegations against then Attorney-General Christian Porter emerged, Morrison's emptiness was evident as he admitted he didn't even bother to read the 31-page dossier sent to him by the alleged rape victim.
But as time goes on, even with the slavish support of much of the mass media, Scotty from Marketing is fooling fewer people all the time.
Let’s start at the present, with the vaccine roll-out, the absence of secure quarantine facilities and the turmoil the nation is currently confronting, with 11 million people in four states and territories in lockdown, all other states and territories implementing restrictions and more mayhem sure to follow.
We have discussed Morrison’s negligent response to the pandemic before and pointed out that Australia’s enviable position to date had very little if anything to do with the PM, and everything to do with the National Cabinet’s response, the measures taken by individual premiers and Australia’s geographic advantage.
By establishing the National Cabinet, Morrison effectively absolved his responsibility for the pandemic and set up a scenario where he could take or leave ownership based on its successes or failures.
Not wanting to enable credit to be given to states/territories led by Labor leaders, Scotty also used NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as his protegee of sorts, waxing lyrical at every opportunity on her superlative management of the virus. As always, his idiotic preferential treatment of the NSW Premier was enabled and promoted by the mainstream media, resulting in Berejiklian being awarded the "gold standard" Premier title – which Scotty first spruiked – ad nauseam. Holding true to his marketing moniker, Scotty also ensured a plethora of photo ops featuring him with Gladys, "saving" the country together.
By comparison, when Victoria's Labor Premier prioritised the health of citizens by responding to the crisis plaguing the state with a period of seemingly endless lockdowns, Morrison sought only to undermine the work of Daniel Andrews at every turn. The PM and his ministers snidely criticised the lockdowns, refused additional financial assistance and denied requests for purpose-built quarantine facilities. Morrison insisted that lockdowns were not necessary and continued to hold up Berejiklian as the “gold standard” beacon of Liberal Party values.
Thus, the hotel quarantine disaster was sold as Victoria’s failure. But when Victoria's lockdown and other preventative measures (which Morrison opposed) succeeded in containing the virus, it was suddenly Australia’s and, by convenient association, the PM’s success to broadcast to the world.
And for a while, even after the bushfire crisis, when Scotty showed his true colours by buggering off to Hawaii while the nation burned, Australians were lulled into a false state of security. Witnessing the pandemic disaster unfold across the world, we were grateful to be alive and many of us were happy to allow the PM to take the credit.
As with most ad campaigns, however, the devil is in the detail. And so, while the Federal Coalition, the Victorian Liberal Opposition and their arrogant disciples everywhere were attacking Dan Andrews, a few people pointed out the “detail” that quarantine is actually a Federal responsibility.
And when the Morrison Government was happily bragging about its vaccine “strategy”– also a Federal responsibility – while simultaneously haggling over price and refusing offers of the safer and higher efficacy Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the wheels of its inadequate response eventually fell off, exposing it as clearly incompetent.
WHO ARE WE FOOLING?
Today, as Victoria enjoys the fruits of its harsh lockdown measures, easing restrictions and returning to a level of normality, four other states/territories are subjected to harsh lockdowns and most of Australia faces COVID restrictions. Interestingly, while Gladys Berejiklian and Morrison were busily boasting that lockdowns were unnecessary and that NSW, by virtue of its “gold standard” contact tracing methods, was setting the bar for its poor Victorian cousin, the virus had other plans.
Victorians witnessed Andrews fronting the media every single day for months on end, clearly presenting the facts, including the number of new cases each day and facing a barrage of inane questions with calm authority. Now, in NSW, Berejiklian spins and weaves and presents all sorts of numbers, making it almost impossible to ascertain how many new cases have emerged each day. Currently, the news isn’t good and apparently, COVID is as impressed with the super-powers of her gold-standard contact tracing as the rest of us.
Yet, the mainstream media wheels remain in constant sycophantic motion. While Victoria was a ‘State of disaster’ during lockdown, NSW had to lock down because the ‘Smart strain slips the net’. While Andrews was dubbed "Dictator Dan", Berejiklian is 'The woman who saved Australia'.
But Morrison's ad campaign, devoid as it always was of substance, is finally, no longer working.
With Morrison's latest muddled and irresponsible advice of encouraging the AstraZeneca vaccine to be given to those under 40 – against the express advice of health professionals and without National Cabinet consultation – losing the support of even MiniMe-Gladys, people are finally waking up.
As Gladys attempts to talk down 171 new locally acquired cases, the plating of her so-called "gold standard" contact tracing has begun to flake off.
And as the PM spins himself into a deeper hole with each utterance that defies the medical fact that this bargain-basement AZ vaccine is dangerous for people under 60 and especially for under-40s, and the Federal and NSW governments scramble to pass the buck, the truth becomes ever more obvious.
Gold standard Gladys is a marketing campaign.
The Morrison Government botched the vaccine rollout.
The Morrison Government ignored the need for secure quarantine facilities.
The Morrison Government is prepared to risk the health of its citizens just to save face.
Scott Morrison is a fool.
But it is all of us he is dragging with him, over the edge, into the void.
This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published in the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. The full versions of these articles are only available to Independent Australia subscribers. They may be read online in the IA members-only area.
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