Monday, November 10, 2014

Taking the Right personally

I like watching Kitchen Cabinet for the opportunity it gives to view politicians in what is meant to be a more relaxed atmosphere, talking to the very congenial Annabel Crabbe over a meal.

I know that people will say that it is simply a part of my complaint that the Right side of politics has been badly damaged here due to the poisonous influence to the ideologically motivated side of the American Right that has lost interest in both evidence based science and economics, but I have to say, I now find that nearly all Coalition politicians compare very poorly to Labor ones, even at a personality level.

Coalition politicians nearly always come across as being nervous ninnies.  Tony Abbott and his "ha...ha...ha;"  Christopher Pyne and his career mother Amanda Vanstone didn't impress me (even though Vanstone is from the moderate wing of the spectrum); and while Andrew Robb might be admired for his gumption despite suffering long term depression, he does appear to now be a permanently glum robot incapable of pleasure (perhaps?) because of medication, and I was dismayed to be reminded that it was a man suffering long term mental illness who roused himself out of his sick bed to convince his fellow politicians to dump support for an ETS, leading to the current hopeless Prime Minister we endure.   I don't remember much about Joe Hockey's episode, except that he was another male politician who has an almost child like inability to cook anything other than a steak.  Yet he has so comprehensively stuffed up the Budget, and come out as an obsessive about wind power to the extent that a wind mill on the horizon 15 km away upsets him, he's turned out to be a pretty comprehensive embarrassment to the party.

There are exceptions, I suppose:  I certainly don't consider Barnaby Joyce to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I can see why people like him anyway.   Nigel Scullion from the Northern Territory also has a certain pleasant air of frankness about him.

But in comparison, I usually find myself pleasantly surprised by the relaxed air of intelligence of your average Labor politician on the show.

I know Bill Shorten was just a bit too lovely dovey on screen with his wife for comfort, but I still felt better about him after the show than before.  (I have always felt relatively neutral towards him.  I think it was painful watching him suffer by the way he was caught up in the Rudd/Gillard battles.)   I am strongly against lesbian couples using some donor semen to make their own baby, but again, after watching Penny Wong I found myself liking her a lot more than before.   Craig Emerson presented as living in extremely modest circumstances, and really, what was he thinking with his little song and dance routine while he was still in power?   Still, I found it hard not to warm more to him as a result of Annabel's show.

And let's broaden this out a bit:  in commentary terms, Andrew Bolt has evolved into a self satisfied ugly caricature of  moderate Right wing analysis with his self pity and obsession with race and portraying Islam in the worst possible light.  As for climate change - he is a complete gullible joke, of course, never showing a scintilla of skepticism towards anything he reads from Watts Up With That or Professors Jonova and  Monckton.  His disingenuous enthusiasm for endorsing all of the Michael Smith sliming of Gillard (while always adding the disclaimer that "Gillard denies ever having knowledge of the matters") was really appalling.

Tim Blair doesn't seem to realise that the "frightbat" thing just carried too much Young Liberal style undergraduate sexism to be funny, and while he doesn't put the same enthusiasm into climate change denial as does Bolt, his reading list on the topic is clearly limited to denial sites.  It's hard to stay enthusiastic for his brand of lightweight critique of the silly elements of Left wing culture and attitudes when he so proudly wears his intellectual laziness on the key environmental issue of our day on his sleeve.

They both like Mark Steyn, of course, who thinks he can call a scientist a fraud, despite no support amongst other scientist in the field for such a view, and then defend it as free speech, while using his corner of the climate change culture war to get more money from his deluded readers.   

And as for News Corp Right wing female commentators and their attitude towards "feminism" (Miranda Devine, Albrechtsen, Sloan) gee, its got pretty ugly when they spent all their time criticising Gillard for "playing the feminism card" instead of  noting the appalling treatment she got from Right wing broadcasters and the patronising and offensive lines Abbott used.  

So it's remarkable how unlikeable I find so many on the Right have become.   And while I have been saying for a long time that attitude to climate change seems to have become an incredibly good bellwether on political judgement generally, it seems to give a good indication of  unpleasant aspects of personality too.

There are, of course, exceptions to this, even on the Left.   Step up, K Rudd, and take a bow...

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