Gough Whitlam – his last dismissal

gough

I was in my first year in Australia and in transition from left to right at the moment Gough was dismissed by the Governor-General. Not long before I had been astonished at my own lack of enthusiasm for the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese which was something I thought I had cared about and wished to see. Instead, it left me feeling hollow and uncertain. It was also the year that I came upon Hayek’s Road to Serfdom in the College library at Bendigo and G.L.S. Shackle as well. Nevertheless, I thought Bill Hayden’s budget was very good, being still Keynesian in my outlook. And as a Canadian who had been brought up on the principles of the King-Bing affair, which meant governors-general did not dismiss Prime Ministers, I thought Kerr’s decision was fundamentally wrong, and indeed, in the light of history could never happen again. If a PM has control of the House, the PM remains the PM. But he was nevertheless a bad Prime Minister who has left a bad legacy behind, and it is only the blurring of the years that may have created the impression that Rudd and Gillard were worse. This was put up at Catallaxy by Sinclair and it really does tell a story.

Whitlam-Legacy

And the only thing that saved Medibank from becoming as disastrous as the English or Canadian systems is that Malcolm Fraser found he couldn’t get rid of it so he merely legislated so that everyone could use their Medibank levy to buy private insurance instead if they preferred. It is why we have the best system in the world because you can be in the public system and get reasonable care or you can pay your own way and get better care, with the dual form of funding attracting more resources into the health care system in total than either on their own would do.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum. OK. I will therefore say he was not worse than Rudd-Gillard which his friends will think of as all right and my friends will know perfectly well what I mean. The cartoon, by the way, is from The Guardian. It apparently is intended to be respectful so I think I can have it here as well. But “to show us what was possible” as an encomium to Gough is about as clueless a line about a failed politician as you are ever likely to see.

Obama seeks to follow in Whitlam’s steps

It does strike me that Obama would like nothing better than for the Republicans to try to impeach him, not just because it would create a great crusade to keep him President, but mainly just to distract from how colossally bad he has been as president. Narcissistic though he is, even he knows somewhere that he will be remembered as a failure as president and will leave office even more discredited than George Bush. He is in this like Gough Whitlam, for whom the dismissal was the best thing that ever happened to him. It wiped from the collective memory of the nation just how awful his government had been. I have an article at Quadrant Online that compares Obama’s desire for impeachment to Whitlam’s salvation through the dismissal The article begins:

It has always seemed plausible that Gough Whitlam sought his own dismissal in 1975. Overseeing a government that, by then and in virtually every respect, was making an absolute shambles of the economy – rapidly rising unemployment combined with rapidly rising inflation – while being caught up in the preposterous Khemlani Loans Affair, Whitlam’s was a government certain to enter history as amongst the worst, if not the worst, in Australia’s history. Having been dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr and gone before the press to declare, “Well may we say ‘God Save the Queen’, because nothing will save the Governor-General”, he then went home and had a hearty lunch, reportedly in the best possible spirits.

The rest of the article is about Obama and his desire for redemption by following in Whitlam’s steps. The article is found here.

Obama – the dismissal

It has always seemed a plausible idea that Gough Whitlam sought his own dismissal in 1975. Overseeing a government that by then in virtually every respect was making economic conditions an absolute shambles – rapidly rising unemployment combined with rapidly rising inflation – while being caught up in the preposterous Khemlani Loans Affair, Whitlam’s was a government that was certain to enter history as amongst the worst if not the worst in Australian history. But having been dismissed by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr, and then gone before the press to declare, “Well may we say ‘God Save the Queen’ – because nothing will save the Governor-General”, he then went home and had a hearty lunch, reportedly in the best possible spirits.

Who now thinks of the Whitlam Government in the way it needs to be, as a massive failure, and a failure specifically because of the various aspects of socialist ideology that were the causes of the economic havoc that occurred? Whitlam’s name has been redeemed as a great martyr, rather than as a major political catastrophe.

I now think Obama wishes to take the same approach as Whitlam, to replace his reputation in history as an incompetent fool and see in its place his role as a martyr to impeachment and the forces of the right. That he deserves to be flung from office is obvious. If competence and results were the only issues then he would be. But since the issues would shift from competence to defying democracy, with major discussions of racism as the cause, he won’t be impeached, even though this may be his own dearest wish.

Here is an article that sees Obama in the same light as Whitlam: Obama wants to be impeached. I think myself this is true, not just because even if impeached he would never be removed from office, but because it would raise his standing in the polls. The Democrats could only wish the other side was stupid enough to do it. Although on this occasion no Congressional leader would go near any such action, it may be enough for others merely to raise the possibility for this to achieve its aim. And it does seem to be his aim.

President Obama insists on flirting with impeachment even as House Republican leaders insist there’s no such possibility.

Obama uses a passive-aggressive strategy that can be judged as a political maneuver, a personality disorder, or both.

Secure in the knowledge that impeachment is not the same as removal from office, Mr. Obama brings up the topic on his own and with bold defiance. Martyrdom goes well with a Messiah complex and Mr. Obama’s speeches are a non-stop litany of depicting himself as a victim of Republicans.

This for him would be political gold. Since the process would go on endlessly and divert attention from the more significant issues, it would be an act of political suicide. The article however delves into the psychological underpinnings of Obama’s character to explain his motives in daring others to impeach him:

His behavior matches the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of passive-aggressive behavior, “a habitual pattern of passive resistance to expected work requirements, opposition, stubbornness, and negativistic attitudes in response to requirements for normal performance levels expected of others.” Often, such persons see themselves as blameless victims, projecting fault onto others. Commonly, they follow erratic paths and cause constant conflicts.

Be that as it may, the politics of impeachment are clear. Any such move would help only Obama and the Democrats. Best to leave him where he is, a human wrecking-ball though he is. If after eight years of such governance the American constituency seeks to elect an Obama-clone of some kind, well them’s the facts. In the meantime we out here in the rest of the world will have to work out what to do when America has rolled itself up into an ungovernable socialist ball with little desire to assist its fellow democracies dealing with the various forms of tyranny we see at every turn.