18 December 2007

Just let him become an accredited bore

Mr Howard, the former Prime Minister, has been copping a walloping from sections of the media (or should that be the usual suspects?).

In his column in today's Australian Phillip Adams ("Unloved PM well used to rejection") rubs salt into Mr Howard's wounds, while on yesterday's ABC RN's Perspective (thanks for the tip, Noel) Mungo McCallum , did likewise (and showed off his classical learning: will his Latin quotations be the last ones ever allowed on the ABC before Ruddspeak and Mandarin take over?) .

I was not a Howard supporter, and don't agree that he has left Australia a better place than he found it ( for starters look at Workchoices) but I respect the dignified way he has handled his government's and his own defeat. Look at the top half of this picture for an idea of what I mean.

While there's only a tenuous connection between the two, these attacks remind me of George Orwell's 1943 essay Who are the War Criminals? in which he discusses appropriate punishments for Hitler and Mussolini, and concludes:

...let the pair of them escape with a suitcaseful of bearer securities and settle down as the accredited bores of some Swiss pension.

I suppose the modern equivalent of this (for an Australian politician) would be a package of directorships, media appearances and book deals underpinned by generous superannuation.

In time I believe that historians and other commentators will be able to assess Mr Howard's contribution to Australia with more detachment than the likes of Messrs Adams and McCallum.

One touchstone of Mr Howard's legacy will be how much of it Mr Rudd's government overturns or significantly modifies. I suspect it will be much less than those who mock him now expect.

For now, leave Mr Howard alone and let him slide as gracefully as he can into his new role as an accredited bore.

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