Malcolm Turnbull’s speech last night, where he talked about the dishonesty in contemporary political discourse, while a statement of the bleeding obvious, has, in no small way, set the feline among the winged messenger carriers.
He must feel a little like the boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes.
And for his pains he’s getting a series of Number 9′s up the you know where from some of his fellow Liberals.
Malcolm’s right to start this debate. Woefully late, but right.
So, what does it say about our politicians that such a debate becomes, not just relevent, but downright essential?
Phillip Blond, the noted theologian and author of Red Tory, has said more than once that politicians are decent people who go into politics for honourable reasons and who could earn much more elsewhere.
I argue that he is only partly right. That’s how politicians start out; idealistic, committed and determined to make the world a better place.
But here’s the thing.
How many athletes set their feet on the path to winning an Olympic gold medal or the Tour de France with the intention, right from the get go, of taking illegal drugs.
My bet is somewhere around…. Oh, I don’t know, maybe zero.
Yet, along the way, the need to win, the smell of money, the siren sound of adoration, the trappings of high fallutinness, all come together and bingo, suddenly our idealistic athlete is taking something both unpronounceable and illegal.
It’s the same with politicians.
Sure they start out, every one of the little dears, just as Phillip describes them – purer in motive and methodology than the driven.
But then, exactly like so many athletes, the above listed forces perform their secret little works.
And, before he or she knows it, our elected representative is taking the political equivalent of a performance enhancing drug. He or she is… what’s a delicate way of putting this? Lying, that’s it.
It starts out as just a little spin. All perfectly harmless, innocent even. And it’s in a good cause, because our polie is on the side of the angels. Or believes so, at any rate.
But, incident by incident, the spinning and misrepresenting stops being about a good cause. The end stops justifying the means, if it ever did.
It becomes about winning, about a place in history, the trappings of power, the biggest seat in the biggest corner office in the land, the place in history.
Or maybe it’s as banal as a desperate need to be re-elected next time around.
Slowly but surely the politics stops being about the common weal, and becomes about the purely personal.
And lo, our politician is on the way to becoming morally and ethically, if not legally, bankrupt. And oh, so slick about it too.
Malcolm’s speech was a good start.
But it ain’t about how we start out, it’s about how we end up.