The panic is creeping in. You can see it in Peter Dutton’s threat to start suing internet rando’s. You could see it in Scott Morrison’s rubbery, shit-eating grin last night on A Current Affair. His minders thought they might just slide him in for a convivial chat with Friendly Grimshaw in amongst the hard-hitting jernalisms about drug grannies, hellish neighbours and the nonspecific but intriguing hints of existential puppy rage.
ACA would surely be the perfect platform to reassure a million or so mug punters who might have been a bit worried about all this rapey palaver and carry-on that their PM has everything under control and it’s safe to go back to watching the footy. The latest rape allegations/charges/convictions against their favourite players/clubs and/or entire codes notwithstanding.
And thus Scotty from Marketing/HR/the-NRL-merch-shop tried on his most ingratiating Chumley Knobwaffle routine. Ms Van Badham has a handy explainer thread:
There’s lots more but boiled down to essences this up to the minute internet meme applies.
The incel group chat of eccentric furniture polishing fetishists who appear to make up the bulk of the Liberal Party’s apparatchik class probably thought he’d have an easy time of it with Grimshaw, but as Mister Knobwaffle’s punchably smarmy grin disintegrated with each increasingly awkward question, you could imagine one advisor after another slipping out to find the nearest undefended desk upon which to take out their frustrations.
None of the usual bullshit worked because Grimshaw, like 52% of the population has had it with the usual bullshit. When Morrison tried to equate Christian Porter’s case with earlier allegation against then Labor leader Bill Shorten, the ACA host shut him down. Shorten, she pointed out, had presented himself to the police, who then conducted an actual investigation, and concluded he had no case to answer. None of that is true of Porter.
Instead of an investigation, Morrison has either sidestepped every hard question asked of him (and most of the easy ones, tbh), or he’s actively stepped up to defend Jurassic fossils like Eric Abetz, accused by fellow Liberal Sue Hickey of slut-shaming Brittany Higgins.
Unfortunately for Abetz, and doubly for ScoMo, the wily Hickey availed herself of parliamentary privilege to drop her load, so there’ll be no begging off comment because of an impending defamation suit.
Abetz raged against the invidious perfidy of it all and Morrison attempted to give him a giant consolation huggy wuggy while simultaneously inviting ‘Bridny’ to have a meeting with him ‘anytime’. In fact he implored the women of Australia to stand with him, even though he’d been incapable of getting off his arse and walking out of his office to meet with them when they turned up at Parliament for the March4Justice protests.
Abetz has always impressed me as a self-sustaining human-centipede-of-one. He cares nothing for your opinion, because you play no part in the hermetically sealed foodchain that sustains him.
But even he seemed to recognise the danger of getting on the wrong side of this. Not enough to apologise, of course, but snarling incoherent threats to “crush his enemies, to see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentation of the women,” is at least a little closer to humble self reflection and nuance than we might otherwise have expected.
End of life enwokenment probably doesn’t explain his performative table-flipping. But panic does. Just as panic explains Andrew Laming’s grovelling apology to two female constituents he had previously cyber-stalked and apparently stalked for reals,
Laming, like Abetz has long fashioned what passes for his career out of these carefully chosen outrages. The bigger the better. Why be a turd when you could be a Godzilla turd? The tell in his pursuit of Ms Hewlett and Ms Russo was that he trolled them publicly, on Facebook, where any of his constituents might see the harassment. Until this week he wasn’t ashamed of it at all. Indeed, his actions since his apology indicate it may have been less than sincere. The trolling wasn’t just something he did. It was an act of political theatre he performed and he did so with the indulgence of his party.
They’re still indulging him. As long as he remains pre-selected he is indulged.
Just as Abetz is indulged.
And Christian Porter is indulged.
And Brittany Higgins attacker was indulged with good references and a well paying gig.
The panic these men feel is that the time of their indulgence might be coming to an end.
[A quick note from JB. It’s almost been a year since I spooled up this column again, which means that if you’re paying subscriber, Substack will try hit up your card or PayPal or whatevs sometime soon. If you’re sick of my shit, you need to get out, get out now! Run! But if you want more, you are of course my favourite and I will happily take your money. Assuming your credit card is good, you lousy bum. Wait. Did I just type that last bit out loud? Oh shit. Pull out, JB! Pull now! Run!]