(An essay revised in January 2019)
Politics is in the air just now. When is it not?
I’ve been thinking of all the votes I’ve cast during my 85 years. Suddenly I found myself hunting up this list of dubious political statements, possibly to help my fellow voters make better judgements. So there we are. Look what I’ve found.
WORDS THAT LINGER – AND FINGER
If you are going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime. So believe me, don’t ever lie. Richard Nixon April, 1973 advice to a colleague.
No way will the GST be part of our policy. Never ever; it’s dead. John Howard in 1995, one year before he was elected and a little later introduced the GST.
I don’t want in Australia people who would throw their own children into the sea. I don’t. There’s something for me incompatible between somebody who claims to be a refugee and somebody who would throw their own child into the sea. It offends the natural instincts of protection and delivering security and safety to your children. John Howard, 2001.
A number of people that jumped overboard and have had to be rescued, and more disturbingly a number of children have been thrown overboard. I regard these as some of the most disturbing practices that I have come across in the time that I have been involved in public life, clearly planned and premeditated. I imagine the sorts of children who would be thrown would be those who could be readily lifted and tossed without any objection from them. Minister Philip Ruddock, 2001.
Fiction Proven Stranger Than Truth!
But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Miss Lewenski. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never. These allegations are false. And I’m going to go back to work for the American people. Thank you. President Bill Clinton, 26 January, 1998.
Hussein … spends his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies. Madeline Albright, Nov. 10, 1999 Clinton Secretary of State.
The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South-East Asia. It must be seen as a part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. R G Menzies, 1965. Really!
It is good contextual information; it can’t be used as league tables. Julia Gillard in March, 2017 on the NAPLAN test.
The nineteenth century American Party, also known as the Know- Nothing Party because members were forbidden to reveal its details, has echoes in our present world.
The Know-Nothing Platform 1856
(1) Repeal of all Naturalisation Laws.
(2) None but Americans for office.
(3) A pure American Common School system.
(4) War to the hilt on political Romanism.
(5) Opposition to the formation of Military Companies, composed of Foreigners.
(6) The advocacy of a sound, healthy and safe Nationality.
(7) Hostility to all Papal influences, when brought to bear against the Republic.
(8) American Constitutions & American sentiments.
(9) More stringent & effective Emigration Laws.
(10) The amplest protection to Protestant Interests.
(11) The doctrines of the revered Washington.
(12) The sending back of all foreign paupers.
(13) Formation of societies to protect American interests.
(14) Eternal enmity to all those who attempt to carry out the principles of a foreign Church or State.
(15) Our Country, our whole Country, and nothing but our Country.
(16) Finally – American Laws, and American legislation; and death to all foreign influences, whether in high places or low!
Whole Document Source: The Duke University Special Collections Library: 11/12/2017.
South Vietnam would become a Communist State, and the lives and security of millions who have resisted Communism would be in jeopardy.
The impact of our complete withdrawal, as proposed by the Labor Party, would be felt throughout South-East Asia. We, too, would come under threat. Harold Holt, 1966 – election speech.
In the actions we have now taken we are not concerned to stop Egypt, but to stop war. None the less, it is a fact that there is no Middle Eastern problem at present which could not have been settled or bettered but for the hostile and irresponsible policies of Egypt in recent years, and there is no hope of a general settlement of the many outstanding problems in that area so long as Egyptian propaganda and policy continues its present line of violence. Anthony Eden, 31 October 1956 justifying the disastrous Suez invasion.
Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders? I have it in me to be a successful soldier. I can visualise great movements and combinations. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, 1914 aged 40, just before he initiated the disaster of Gallipoli.
To end on a lighter note I conclude this little exposé with a reference to political words of a different kind: creative abuse. I have found no better exponent than
Peter Costello was “all tip and no iceberg”, Andrew Peacock an “intellectual rust-bucket”, and Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey a “stupid, foul-mouthed grub”. He famously called his 1993 opponent John Hewson, “a feral abacus” with a performance “like being flogged with warm lettuce”, and in saying to him “I want to do you slowly”, delivered a taunt that still echoes in the dark corridors of the Australian political imagination. Keating may have lost the election to Howard in 1996 but one suspects that Keating’s special brand of spoken bastardry will endure beyond any memory of Howard’s words. What, after all, do a majority of votes matter, when your opponent has described you to history as a “mangy maggot”, “the old desiccated coconut”, “araldited to the seat” and a “dead carcass, swinging in the breeze”?
As to the ethics of this, you can decide. Source
So there you have it; just my little collection of political dalliances with the truth, garnished with some Keating sauce. I hope I haven’t given you indigestion. R.
Some years ago I tried to do something about all of this deception. I wrote the little book below. It was the subject of two interviews on the ABC and raised a laugh there and at other places.
It was fun to write. Greg Gaul is a masterly cartoonist who caught my ideas so cleverly.
I have also given it to some political friends with a waiver saying they did not need it. If you want a copy, there are still some left. The price is $12.50 AU author signed and posted free anywhere in the world. If you want it, just press the PayPal button.
Tongue in cheek advice to would be politicians to ensure their survival in the present day political climate.
Thanks for your company here,