Paul Kelly changes tune on Rudd
Paul Kelly was doing an OK job in his interview on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night – until push came to shove.
Kelly has penned a new book The March of Patriots, which looks at the policies of Paul Keating and John Howard in the years 1991 to 2001.
Kelly argued that Howard and Keating were “passionate and intense men that were driven by their vision of how Australia should be”, while Kevin Rudd was different because “Rudd is committed to a more modern view of politics in both public relations terms, in terms of technology, in terms of marketing.”
In other words Keating and Howard were conviction politicians, while Rudd only cares about spin and media control.
That’s a pretty serious claim to make.
Unfortunately, Kelly appeared to have fallen victim to the very same spin, as witnessed by this exchange last night:
LEIGH SALES: So if you see Keating and Howard as part of the same narrative and as part of the era of trying to adapt Australia to the changing world, do you see the Rudd Government as a continuation of that narrative, or do you think we’re at the beginning of a different era?
PAUL KELLY: That’s very much for Kevin Rudd to decide. I thought his comments at my book launch today were very interesting because he had some critiques to make of the book. But in his comments I felt more than before Rudd tended to depict himself in the Hawke-Keating tradition.
And I did think those comments were quite significant. So, it seemed to me today Kevin Rudd was stressing the continuity between his government and Hawke and Keating, and I think that’s a good thing.
Rudd has a tendency to vary what he says and the way he says it depending on his audience.
Rudd the spin-doctor would naturally tell Kelly what Kelly wanted to hear. No surprises in that.
But it is surprising and disappointing that Kelly would fall for it.
Is he afraid of the all-powerful Rudd and his team of media managers?
Gerard Henderson comments today in his Sydney Morning Herald column:
“When Howard was prime minister he occasionally paid tribute to the economic reform agenda of Hawke and Keating. Rudd is not inclined to return the favour. Rather he is attempting to associate the previous Coalition government with what he regards as the discredited agenda of neo-liberalism or free-market extremism.
The problem with Rudd’s tactic is that it diminishes, unintentionally, the Hawke-Keating role in the transformation of the economy.”