June 26, 2010

WAS KEVIN RUDD AUSTRALIA’S OBAMA?

FROM the moment Kevin Rudd donned a ”Kevin 07” T-shirt and surrounded himself with adoring young women similarly attired, his days were numbered. There is a limit to the role for marketing hype in Australian politics, and that piece of Americana crossed the line.

It symbolised the hyperbole – the sloganeering – that would come to characterise the Rudd prime ministership. We loved it in the start, of course, because it matched the mood of 2007 – a fresh spirit of engagement with politics after a decade of disengagement, renewed interest in the big picture, a dream of a new order.

So we fell for the oldest trick in the book: over-investment in a new leader. Rudd was swept into office on a tide of euphoria that was dangerous for him, and for us. Euphoria is like a drug with powerful short-term effects. We can’t stay euphoric. We need substance to prop up our enthusiasm, and no politician could deliver a performance to match our madly exaggerated expectations of Rudd.

Interestingly, he was taken out by his own party.

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