The greatest political failures of all time

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It's safe to say history has had its fair share of political failures; Tim Napper takes a comical look at some of the more memorable ones.

George W. Bush: "fool me once..."
George W. Bush: "Fool me once..." (Caricature by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au)

5) Anthony Weiner: The Penis Monologues

This really isn’t such a huge disaster, especially when you compare it to the rest on the list.

That said, it’s probably the funniest.

A guy with the name of Anthony Weiner takes pictures of his "weiner" and sends it to strangers on the internet.

These strangers include a Vegas Blackjack dealer, a university student, a porn star and some young Republicans posing as political groupies.

WOW! Just miles of political judgement and common sense right there.

Even grander than this chubby-induced stupidity was his towering technical incompetence.

He publicly tweeted a photo of his wang to one of his followers, before realising his mistake and deleting it.

Too late, of course, as his political opponents had a copy of his "John Thomas" on hand and proceeded to let the world know about Wiener’s "Johnson".

Now, I’m not going to get all moral about this. If you want to take pictures of your junk and send it to strangers, that’s your business, I guess.

But you know, if you’re an elected official and you’re married, and your last name happens to be a nickname for a penis — I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say maybe you shouldn’t take a photo of "Mr Winky" and then post it on social media.

Weiner is apparently trying to rehabilitate his career by running for mayor of New York. He is attempting to get over the bratwurst saga by talking about "second chances" and "forgiveness."

Well, I’m not so sure.

I just don’t know if a guy who posts pictures of his "trouser trout" on Twitter has the sort of political acumen needed to run one of the greatest cities on earth.

Perhaps Weiner should have stuck to the "less is more" adage? (Image courtesy abc.net.au)

4) Mal Meninga: Shortest Political Career of All Time

I love big Mal Meninga.

He led the Raiders during the halcyon days, when we had a good coach, a preternaturally talented team, and no-one called Blake Ferguson.

Mal was the only player to make four kangaroo tours (1982 – 1994), and has the record for the most points scored in test matches for Australia (272).

He’s also been at the helm as coach during Queensland’s complete contemporary dominance of Origin. As a Blues man, I am not so happy about this particular feat.

He led the Raiders to the greatest grand final victory of all, in 1989, and followed that up with premierships in 1990 and 1994. He memorably scored an intercept try against the Bulldogs in the final minutes to cap an extraordinary career.

Bruce Stadium rightly has a Mal Meninga Stand to commemorate the great man.

If you thought it couldn’t get any better, in 2001 he did something truly amazing — began and ended a political career in precisely 28 seconds.

Sure, he showed bad judgement by choosing to run for that damn fool Paul Osborne’s loopy local political party in Canberra, but he completely redeemed himself – and more – by his almost instantaneous resignation.

Here was how the interview went:
"And the thing about that is, I guess, I was a public figure and I was put on the podium where I was just a person out there ... I'm buggered, I'm sorry, I have to resign."

Snap. If only more politicians had that much integrity and common sense.

3) John Hewson: The Unloseable Election

John Hewson made one of the greatest tactical errors of modern politics at the 1993 election — he released detailed, costed, policies.

No opposition since has made such an egregious error. John Hewson should be known as the George Costanza of Australian politics; you should look at the example he set, and do precisely the opposite.

When John Hewson replaced Andrew Peacock as leader of the Liberal Party in 1990, he launched a comprehensive policy document called ‘Fightback!

After winning what many saw as an "unwinnable" election Keating famously said: "This is the sweetest victory of all." (Image courtesy primeministers.naa.gov.au)

Initially, Fightback! was somewhat successful and saw the Liberals gain ground on the Labor Party under Bob Hawke. It wasn’t until Paul Keating took over from Hawke at the end of 1991 that Hewson came under pressure from a ferocious fear campaign.

Keating called Hewson a ‘feral abacus’ and said of the GST that was part of 'Fightback!':
"If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it"

A line that was ironically picked up by Tony Abbott for his fear campaign against Labor’s carbon pricing scheme.

This was a spectacular case of hypocrisy from Keating, who had argued the case for a GST some years before — again, much like Abbott, who has supported both a carbon tax and an emissions trading scheme in the past.

This confusion about the GST was underlined during the infamous ‘birthday cake interview’ where Hewson was asked whether a birthday cake would cost more or less under his GST.

Hewson went into a long explanation on how it depended on the sort of icing you used and whether the cake had candles and the sort of store selling the cake.

The conclusion: even he couldn’t explain his own tax.

John Hewson made himself a large target and Paul Keating – one of the sharpest minds in parliament – took aim and did not miss.

2) Neville Chamberlain: "Peace For Our Time"

Neville Chamberlain, you moron.

At what point did it seem like Adolf Hitler was not a grade-A psychopath?

After expansionist Germany absorbed Austria, the obsequious Englishman traveled to Munich to do a deal with Hitler.

After protracted negotiations, they signed a piece of paper that said, in essence: “You can have a chunk of Czechoslovakia, if you’ll – pretty please! – not go to war with anyone else in Europe.”

Hitler of course signed, meaning to fulfill the bit about invading Czechoslovakia and ignoring the rest.

Chamberlain returned to England and a rapturous welcome.

To a cheering crowd he said:

Chamberlain never lived down his "peace for our time" statement. (Image courtesy democraticunderground.com)

My good friends, this is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds.”

A few days later, Winston Churchill told the House of Commons:
"England has been offered a choice between war and shame. She has chosen shame and will get war.”

He was right.

Hitler continued to build his armies and scream his speeches of hate and military expansionism to adoring crowds.

Chamberlain for the most part remained reluctant to put Britain on a war footing.

When, in 1939, Germany invaded Poland, the UK had no choice but to go to war.

In 1940, the tepid Chamberlain was replaced by the greatest wartime prime minister in history, Winston Churchill.

1) George W. Bush: The Village Idiot Screws Up the World

Where, oh where, do you begin with George W. Bush?

He was never very good at most things and downright terrible at some.

His administration was filled with corporate spivs, political hacks, ghouls, seat-sniffers, and the Prince of Darkness himself — Dick Cheney.

He was a bumbling, stumbling, advertisement for everything that is wrong with America.

Presidential scholars agree, ranking him one of the worst modern presidents.

Let's look at two of his greatest failures:

First, there was Hurricane Katrina — one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

At least 1833 people died in the hurricane and ensuing floods and property damage totaled $81 billion.

Bush Delivers Remarks About Hurricane Gustav At FEMA Headquarters
George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina was a textbook example of government bungling. (Image courtesy weather.about.com)

Bush was severely criticised for a weak initial response.

On Good Morning America, on Sept. 1, 2005, he said:
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

This was six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina.

With classic right-wing disregard for public agencies, Bush had compounded the problem by nominating Michael Brown to head up the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Brown was supremely qualified for the role, of course, as his previous position was the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.

Yeah, you read that right.

After criticism mounted of Brown’s decision-making in response to the disaster, Bush famously said:
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Brown resigned 10 days later.

Second is one of the biggest disasters of all — the Iraq War.

So, how many weapons of mass destruction did you find again?

George W. Bush gave us a war of choice based on a monumental lie.

The cost to America was trillions of dollars and worse: the deaths of 4,409 military personnel, with 31,928 wounded in action.

The cost to Iraq – estimated by medical journal Lancet – was more than 500,000 civilian deaths.

Yet in the lead-up, in 2003, Bush said the following to high-profile evangelist Pat Robertson:
"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties”

mission accomplished banner 23423423
George W. Bush laughably declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq in 2003. 8 years later, the United States were still there. (Image courtesy theatlantic.com)

In 2008, in response to a journalist who pointed out that Al Qaeda wasn't a threat in Iraq until after the U.S. invaded, George W. Bush responded with:
"So what?"

That son of a bitch!

Let’s not even get started on the Global Financial Crisis or any number of his other notable failures.

Rather, I want to end with my favourite George W quote of all time, made in Nashville, Tennessee in 2002:
"There's an old saying in Tennessee – I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me ... you can't get fooled again."

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