Personality politics: The Christian and the chameleon

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons)

Why is our fair dinkum Prime Minister developing the persona of a quick-talking vacuum cleaner door-to-door salesman from the 1940s?

IF ONE WERE to psychoanalyse the personalities of recent Australian Prime Ministers you wouldn’t find much personality amongst them. Indeed, in the age of celebrity in which we live, it would be a scarcity.

Our current Prime Minister, based on recent behaviour se,ems to have been advised to seek one urgently. Nobody wants to be true to who they are anymore.

Now I’m not privy to who has given him this advice, but it seems rather odd that any Prime Minister would want to develop the persona of a quick-talking vacuum cleaner door-to-door salesman from the 1940s.

One who likes a stubby after making a sale, even though he stuffed up the Dale Carnegie sales pitch from How to win Friends and Influence people

And the baseball cap must surely be a condition for a sizable donation to the almost empty Liberal Party campaign chest.

Anyway, this personality transplant isn’t working. Scott Morrison is looking and sounding like a middle-aged country bumpkin driving around outback Queensland, in a bus as large as his ego, trying to convince everyone that he is something he is not.

Even trying to convince people he is a compassionate Christian seems beyond him. People just find it difficult to reconcile their perception of how a Christian acts, with how Scott Morrison does in relation to asylum seekers. The two seen incompatible to most people. In short, he is a chameleon.

Scott Morrison is renowned for his hyperbolic embellishment of all things Labor. He delivers it with all the magnification of a charismatic preacher. Facts don’t matter, so long as perceptions are created. Lying is justified if the theology demands it. Defend your teaching by saying the others are evil.

When Malcolm Turnbull (“the velvet fog”), came along everyone thought – even breathed a sigh of relief – that he had replaced the much-hated Tony Abbott.

He was nicknamed so because of his, polished manner and suave sophistication. People thought, myself included, that, at last, some reason, dignity and transparency would come to debate within the body politic.

Alas, we had all been conned by the supreme snake-oil salesman, who later proved to be the biggest hypocrite in Australian political history. He had thrown previous convictions out with the bathwater.

Of course, if Turnbull was a hypocrite then his predecessor had to be the greatest liar ever to have walked the halls of the Parliament. His self confessed lies are verifiable. He throws them around like confetti at a windy wedding, but the fact is that he couldn’t get away with it forever.

The leap from foul-mouthed, shirt-fronting misogynist and democracy destroyer to dignified Prime Minister was simply a step too far and he was an abysmal failure.

His biggest victim was of course the rather stately Julia Gillard who took his daily lashings of crass smut with womanly grace. Such was her class. Well, that was until some said she should throw some mud back at him.

“Gillard won’t lie down and die,” he said.

Then came her now famous Misogynist Speech on the floor of the House of Representatives that sat him on his arse.

“My name's Kevin and I’m here to help,” said the intellectual genius from Queensland. Like all the prime ministers I mention, they certainly all, perhaps with the exception of Morrison, showed an exceptional capacity for scholarly depth of contemplation.

He was however flawed in people management, thinking he alone had an ownership on righteousness and it became his downfall.

Conversely, Bob Hawke had personality in spades. He wore his heart on his sleeve like no other. Womaniser, sports lover and drunkard (until he gave the grog away).

Some argue that his first cabinet was the best ever given the talent it included.

He was the loveable Australian larrikin with a cheeky persona. So popular that you could forgive him almost anything. He bought about his own demise by thinking that it would all last forever.

Paul Keating because of his capacity to see Australia – and the world for that matter – through the eyes of a prodigious forward looking thinker often came into conflict with conservatives from both sides of the political divide.

He left school at 14, but became Treasurer and then Prime Minister. With arguably the sharpest wit of anyone to ever sit in the house, he could reduce intelligent speakers into quivering imbecilic fools with his sarcastic comments.

In the end, he went the way of the others because of his manner. However, there can be no doubt he was an exceptional politician who was what he was. Take him or leave him.

Keating, Gillard and Hawke remain the same today as when they first entered politics. Turnbull was a weak leader and Rudd a confusion. Abbott is and was nothing more than a disgrace.

Morrison is a chameleon trying to brand himself as some sought of common man who understands people’s everyday problems, but having never been one finds it difficult to make the transformation.

He is still recognised as the head-kicker who stopped the boats and the talking-head treasurer. People cannot understand how such a devout Christian can be responsible for the grief he has caused.

Rebranding can often be interpreted as a cynical exercise in political spin — and it is. Life is often about perception. Not what is, but what we perceive it to be.

Maybe it’s best to be true to who you really are.

You listening, Bill.

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