I feel sorry for Emmanuel Macron. Not because he lost a ninety billion dollar weapons contract, but because he still thinks he’s special. You can see in his undiminished anger the very particular sense of violation felt by somebody who has not just been lied to, but has been deceived publicly and shamelessly, adding gross insult to grievous humiliation.
But what the French President is coming to understand, if a little too late, is that Scott Morrison lies to everyone.
Morrison lied to Macron about the subs deal, but he also lied to Joe Biden on the other side of the deal, assuring the American President that he had informed the French about what was happening. He hadn’t. He may have sent Macron a break up text, a couple of hours before AUKUS was announced. Or he may not. How would we know? His multiple, shifting explanations of exactly what he told the French leader and when he told him recall nothing so much as Gladys Berejiklian’s awkward attempts to recalculate, while under oath, the precise dimensions of her Love Circle.
Morrison lied his way through the pandemic. He lied about pissing off to Hawaii during the bushfire holocaust. He lied, and continues to lie about the role his office played in suppressing information about the Brittany Higgins rape case and later about his staffers’ hostile backgrounding against Ms. Higgins’ partner.
It looks like he even lied to the Nationals just last week about negotiating cuts to methane from agricultural production.
He lies constantly, reflexively, and even condescendingly, assuming that there are unlikely to be consequences.
In moving from the amateur theatrics of Canberra on to the international stage of geopolitics he has not simply risen to the level of his maximum incompetence, he has blasted through it and finds himself floating without tether in hard vacuum.
Macron gave him no comfort when asked this morning whether he thought the Australian Prime Minister was a liar.
“I do not think it,” he growled with Gallic scorn, “I know it.”
He then went on to say that there are consequences for the loss of trust resulting from a deception as momentous as that committed by Scott Morrison.
One immediate consequence will be felt at Glasgow.
Morrison was assisted in his dishonesty last week, as always, by Rupert Murdoch’s disinformation factory. News Corp’s pivot to Net Zero didn’t so much choke off the usual hot, vomiting geyser of their climate change denialism as it dry heaved a furball onto the national shagpile and try to pass it off as fairy floss – a magic trick not a thousand miles removed from the Morrison Government’s own attempt to swap out a shiny lump of coal for a glossy blue pamphlet and call it a climate change action plan.
But of course it wasn’t a plan.
There is no plan.
When governments actually plan to make changes they do three things; they legislate, they tax and they spend. But Morrison’s so-called plan does none of that, unless the secret kickbacks to National Party interests count. (Spoiler, they don’t. Even a gold standard bullshitter like Morrison will have trouble selling a new rail line to Gladstone to ship more coal overseas as a climate change positive).
In Glasgow, however, the PM enters a forum where for once his presence is not just an irrelevancy but a provocation. Our eco-stocks were already low in Europe, but we got away with it for years because bigger players had our backs, whether reluctantly or not. Now, thanks to the accelerating dangers of the climate crisis, and Morrison’s own ham-fisted diplomacy — or whatever you might call the opposite of diplomacy — Australia will have to account for itself.
The usual lies and bullshit and special pleading won’t do it.
Macron has already signalled that France in particular and Europe more generally will be looking for hard decisions from Canberra. They’re not going to indulge magical thinking about handwavium-powered sci-fi tech appearing at the last moment to save us all.
I think, or at least I hope, that he’s going to get the shit kicked out of him in Glasgow.
Macron, Biden, and the rest of the world now know what we have always known.
You can’t trust this man.