Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rudd's Three Mucketeers

That Kevin Rudd, he's such a smartie. Peter Hartcher will tell you that -- and keep right on telling you that until the election, when no doubt he hopes the night will end with drinks and back-slapping and someone semi-important in Team Rudd telling him he's very important himself, fantastic writer and a great mind, too, and aren't we all just wonderful fellows together on the same team and.... oh, wait, over there, it's David Marr and Virginia and Russell, and they are all on the side of the angels too.

Parrots demand crackers for their recitations of learnt lines. The Hartchers are so much cheaper to run and operate, and they know as if by instinct to leave their droppings on sheets of paper.

They won't need to know much else from here until polling day, as Rudd, according to The Age, has recruited a trio of the hard and fast political operatives who returned Obama to the White House. When the new arrivals and their minions spread a meme, Australia's great political reporters will need to do nothing more than pass it on. No need to think whatsoever.
With speculation over the poll date now at fever pitch - and an announcement expected within days - the ALP's campaign team has secured the expertise of Tom McMahon, the former executive director of the powerful Democratic National Committee during President Obama's last campaign.

It has also called in Joon Kim of the consulting firm New Partners, and the British social media expert, Matthew McGregor, known for his ability to get spoof videos online sometimes within minutes of mistakes being made by his opponents.
As the scoop is by Mark Kenny, no surprise that several things are wrong or have been omitted. Perhaps he was too busy memorising his own just-delivered talking points, seeking to get a jump on Hartcher in the Sycophant Stakes, or maybe it was jealousy that put him off his game. After all, only that morning it had been Hartcher's turn at the teat, gulping down and rapidly regurgitating the hoary old Labor line that anxious Liberals, now seeing defeat in the round and confident face of Kevin Rudd, would just love to oust Abbott and install Malcolm Turnbull in his place. Alas, too little time remains before the election to take that sensible step, so the Coalition will likely be stuck with the wall-punching loser. As a theory  it is funny to the point of the grotesque, but that is what we get when journalism's loftiest perches are occupied by gargoyles rather than watchers in pursuit of the commanding view.

The wrong bit in Kenny's story -- he had better work harder on those dictation skills -- is that Matthew McGregor seems not to be a producer of smash-hit, instant spoof videos. Indeed, he is quite dismissive of blogs, Facebook and, presumably, YouTube. What MCGregor does is run email campaigns, which he dresses up with interactive links in order to justify his consultancy fee. He did a lot of this for Obama, by his account (see the video of McGregor below), but there was another cause he served which Kenny neglected to mention: Red Ken Livingstone's campaign to be London's mayor.

McGregor's expertise is in enervating invigorating supporters and getting out the vote -- a skill of limited relevance, one would think, in a country where, unlike Britain and the United States, voting is compulsory and we all turn out for fear of $70 fines. Still, he is worth hearing, if only to see that even after John McTernan, a 457 visa can still get you the services of a fellow who, if he believes the Australian electoral system resembles that of his homeland and the US, will prove to be another expensively imported dill.
The other two amigos, McMahon and Kim, will need watching. Each, not just Kim, is a knob at the New Partners consultancy firm, whose website might lead the casual visitor to conclude that its stock-in-trade is fuzzy cliches. As the founding partner was Robert Gibbs, Obama's former press secretary, there is a bit more to the outfit than that.

The UMR document, which Kenny quotes at the bottom of his spoon-fed scoop, has several points of interest, not just Kim's observation that victory in political campaigns means persuading voters that the other bloke will give them cancer. The full report is here, but this short passage may be well be worth the attention of Liberal operatives. These are not Kim's words but worth repeating all the same. They bring Kevin Rudd very much to mind.
Obama clearly recognised a backlash against too much negative advertising too. He frequently made quips distancing himself from his campaign advertising that included him saying that he approved the message.
Rudd's hired guns are already working their magic, their mere presence on our shores an excuse for the Kennys and the Hartchers to wax rhapsodic about Rudd's bold strokes and big moves, to rave about "momentum" and repeat ad nauseam that Turnbull is the golden boy and the party's passed-over last, best hope.

After that, with emails and attack ads and Rudd's factotums dealing dirt while he floats serenely above it all, well, that will be the election campaign.

If they have not done so already, Abbott's people should be studying Romney's ill-fated effort and the campaign of quicksilver lies that laid it low. Kenny, Hartcher and all of the ABC's Labor-staffers-turned-pundits will be wetting themselves in their eagerness to lend a hand.


  1. It matters not - I hear Abbott is bringing in Meatloaf!

  2. Did you really mean, "enervating", Prof?
    Of course, if McGregor's expertise really does lie in enervating Labor voters, then more strength to his arm.

  3. David of the RiverinaJuly 31, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Australians have proved adept at adapting to British and American politics but the reverse isn't true. The difference is television. We grow up looking in the windows of Britain and the US thanks to an endless diet of TV shows from those countries. Brits peek through the window of Australian TV at Neighbours and Prisoner only, which is why Gillard's Scot came unstuck. It is worse for Americans whose view of Australia is limited to Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin. Rudd's team of foreigners might turn out a gift that keeps on giving, like McTernan did.

  4. Cripes Professor. Is there fracking going on in the vicinity of The Billabong? Something has obviously leached into the water, as you have been o'er brimming with scintillating wit in recent days. Please carry on.

  5. I guess the PM's office must have advertised extensively to try and find suitably qualified locals, so to justify the 457s?

  6. The Liberal Party of Canada began importing 'talent' from the US Democrats c.2005, while they were still the Government. Borrowing freely from that font of electoral success, the LPC is now the Parliamentary third party, trying to stay ahead of the Greens.


  7. Prof, I see that you refer to "the hoary old Labor line that anxious Liberals ... would just love to oust Abbott and install Malcolm Turnbull in his place". I don't know whether there is any such anxiety, but I hope that the Liberals are thinking about a switch, and soon.

    One - there is the ineluctable fact that polling shows that only a Turnbull-led Coalition might produce a landslide that would give them enough Senate votes (perhaps with Nick Xenophon's support at the price of hammering the gambling industry) to do what is necessary to fix up the diabolical mess created by Rudd/Gillard/Rudd. Indeed, perhaps only a Turnbull-led Coalition could win government.

    Second, whether we oldies like it or not, it is Turnbull rather than Abbott (or Hockey, or Bishop et al) who could attract the "younger demographic" to both vote for and join the Liberals. Turnbull may be the only hope for the future for the Liberals. If Abbott loses, watch out for a split.

    I have raised this issue on the Catallaxy blog (Open Forum, July 30), and rather than have your blog clogged up with the nonsense, abuse and occasional reasoned response I got, I refer your many readers to that blog.

  8. "Each... is a knob at the New Partners consultancy firm"


    Just saying...

    Unless you mean "dick"...

  9. I have always voted for the LNP & I would never vote for Turnbull, I have a feeling that he is of the same mold as KRudd - arrogant, smug, pompous

    I may be wrong, but I would rather donkey vote.

  10. While there's no getting away from the fact that Obama won against Romney last year, he was the first US president in history to win a second term with a lower percentage of the vote than for his first.
    So: what did the marketing campaign do for him, exactly?
    If Kruddfuhrer's hired geniuses think they can slag Abbott the way they slagged Romney... well, boys, just ask Jooolya how that worked for her!

  11. Bunyip
    KRudd (aka HasBeen13) has employed his sons as well.

    This from the PM who has said that the ALP must be reformed.....has he forgotten about the nepotism of Michael Williamson so soon???
    You couldn't dream this crap up

  12. Channel-billed cuckooAugust 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    What a farce our system of government has become. The only genuine democracy in the world is Switzerland because power is de-centralized to the cantons. The federal government is kept sensible, conservative and consultative because the people have the power to veto legislation if enough of them object, as well as citizen's intiated referenda. Swiss pollies would never get away with substituting brain farts for considered policies.