Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pakula NOT in charge of dud branch, it turns out

I covered the lead-up to this fairly extensively a few weeks ago. The score to date – of late 30s Xers challenging useless boomer MPs in safe Labor seats – is so far 2-1. And that’s advantage Xers (Shorten and Marles in, Pakula out).

Probably not surprisingly, no one else seems to have picked up on the generational angle to this – other than to casually throw in the “youth” cliché, re the Xer challengers. But worse than being a cliché, calling someone in their late 30s “young”, as I have stressed, is a cold and calculated lie.

This Orwellian disregard for history is exemplified by the views of the buffoonish NSW ex-pollie Rodney Cavalier. Rodders was a relatively short-lived education minister in the haute-corruption, haute-80s Wran and Unsworth NSW Labor governments (Wran’s gift of posterity for Xers was laying the foundations for HECS, in a post-Premier consultancy). These days Rodders, when he’s not swanning around the chi-chi Southern Highlands calling himself “a Labor Party historian and commentator”, is a capital-Yetch establishment figure: SCG Trust Chairman, a director of Sydney Ferries, and Chair of the Committee for the Sesqui Centenary of Responsible [sic] Government in NSW.

With such a David Flint-like public profile (Labor connections aside), it seems all the more odd that Cavalier’s chief beef with Labor’s preselection system is that it is all but closed to rough-trade; sorry, blue-collar workers. Instead, something called the “political class” (union leaders, ministerial advisers etc) has an effective monopoly on preselection.

At a glance, this looks like an old and unremarkable statement of fact. But when unpicked, it soon becomes apparent that Cavalier’s “political class” is simply a snide, below-the-belt synonym for GenX Labor aspirants. So how does he perform such a sleight of hand?

First: mash-up the decades

“The assault against Crean represents a behavioural sink for this party. Until now the Labor Party revered its past leaders.” (same URL)

Now, you may have raised an eyebrow here (viz, what about Latham, or even Keating, if you want to narrow the reverence-for-leader precedent to past-PMs only?), but you need to understand that by “now”, Cavalier doesn’t mean now. If you read on, you’ll see that by “now” he actually means 1977, the year in which Gough Whitlam was given a dignified departure. But hey, what’s three decades?

Then there’s the two generations of the political class: the “first generation” (tertiary-educated union leaders in the 1970s) and “the second generation” (tertiary-educated union leaders of the present) (same URL) . That the latter are evil incarnate, but the former are/were relatively benign, is a contradiction that Cavalier doesn’t even attempt to resolve. In turn, this is possible because in the three-decade gap between the rise of these two generations – over much of which time Labor was in power federally – there was, for whatever reason, a lengthy holiday from “political class” overlordship:

Out of the embers of 1975 Labor emerged with a critical mass of seriously able men who were there for the long haul — Bill Hayden, Lionel Bowen, John Button, Ralph Willis, Peter Morris, Peter Walsh, Mick Young, not to forget a very young, bloodthirsty Paul Keating. Where is anyone of that quality now? Other than those who were there already, pre-1996? Labor stood still in 1977 in terms of seats, it was otherwise with the infusion of quality representation — Brian Howe, John Dawkins (returning after defeat), Barry Jones, Gareth Evans, John Brown, Neal Blewett. John Kerin followed in a by-election.

With the possible exception of Brian Howe and Barry Jones, every name on Cavalier’s “quality” and "seriously able" (and all-male) list is a right-wing fuck-knuckle, corrupt, or both. With several of them having backgrounds as lawyers, you may suspect that Cavalier doesn’t (for whatever strange reason) regard lawyers as members of the “political class” – a fact confirmed in his Oz Op Ed.

A final date twist concerns the supposed “niceties that once characterised [Labor]” (same URL). Cavalier admittedly doesn’t put a date range on the “once”. But boy, I’d sure like to know what era he has in mind.

Second: for no logical reason, single out boomers for lauding

Supposedly, 29 of the 30 of the shadow ministry in the federal parliament [in January 2005] are people who have worked for a union or for ministerial staff, or in some way related to the ALP wage structure. A damning – and difficult to believe – statistic (that sounds rather “Xers under the beds”), and one that is in any case immediately contradicted by “some significant and very worthwhile exceptions like Peter Garrett” (same URL). Huh? – either Peter Garrett is the lone non-political class member of the shadow ministry, or he’s not.

Oh, that’s right, Garrett’s a boomer, and so the usual laws (of math and all else) don’t apply. Similarly, “only Mark Dreyfuss [sic] QC in the Victorian seats adds anything new” – yep, 49 year-old QCs are (just like boomer ex-rock singer millionaires) total salt-of-the-earth types, especially when compared to late-30s union leaders.

In conclusion, the current crop of Xer MPs, and wannabe MPs, may well turn out to be as talentless hacks as their boomer predecessors and incumbents. But the more that the Rodney Cavaliers and Simon Creans of Labor protest against middle-aged Xers even being given a chance, the clearer the Xer mission becomes: Destroy, destroy, destroy.

Hey Paul

Long time no bait!

What kind of a guy actually takes the trouble to build an entire website devoted to slagging off a particular age bracket? A bitter guy, that’s who.

I can sort of understand why you hate us so much.

I reckon it’s all that delicious free sex we had with no condoms. Not to mention the genuinely new music, wonderful drugs that didn’t kill you and the parties that went on for weeks with everyone naked. You ever get any of that Paul? I didn’t think so. And then on top of that, we all had the audacity to go on to make shitloads of money and now we all drive around in our Audi TTs with our shaved heads, coming home to our cool inner city terraces (paid off) whilst generation X-pired and Y-bother just look on sadly before going back to paying off their HECS fees and their XBoxes.

10 or 15 years from now Paul you’ll feel like such a goose.

Your favourite BB troll

I'm bitter, eh? Well hold the front page!

Believe me, it's not that much trouble to "build" this website. Some things, like spleen, just kind of get produced by themselves.

As for your gen's sex, drugs and "parties that went on for weeks with everyone naked" - ewww, too much information. Here, you may or may not be aware that naked hippies/boomers are still, in 2006, hanging out/on like it's 1969: just google "Confest".

My point is that memories of debauched youth are fine'n'dandy (and my generation had as much bacchanalian fun as yours, BTW), but seriously dude, you need to let go – and zip it up. Being naked and 20 is divine, while being naked and 50 is just creepy. As is being 45+ and fondly reminiscing in public about one’s salad days.
Wow, isn’t your generation supposed to be the one that invented Irony? You must have joined the queue a bit late for that one Paul. I’m not really “fondly reminiscing in public about my salad days”. I’m merely winding you up with your own prejudices because, well, it’s just sooooo much fun.

In actual fact, I think it’s you who needs to “let go – and zip it up”. Check out your front page. “0 Comments” on every post except this one (as of Mar 16). No-one’s listening Paul. I’m your biggest fan, so be nice to me. Maybe next time I’m in Melbourne I should look you up. We could go out and get drunk and bond. How cool would that be?

Time’s marching on Paul.
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