Friday, June 04, 2004

Is "disastrous" "highly unusual" or "extraordinary"? 

How the Australian media is spinning the Prime Minister John Howard's visit to the United States. The "Sydney Morning Herald" - breathlessly:

"US President George Bush has delivered an unprecedented blow to the Labor Party, describing Mark Latham's policy of withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq as 'disastrous'."
An unprecedented blow? How will the poor Latham recover? "SMH" also called the remarks "a highly unusual intervention in Australian domestic politics" (Melbourne "Age" agrees, calling it "the extraordinary intervention"). As highly unusual an intervention in other country's domestic politics, as Mark Latham calling George Bush "the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory"?

Further from the "SMH": "The remarks will provide a stark contrast in the coming election between Labor and the Coalition's policy on Iraq and relations with the US." Personally, I think that the contrast was already quite stark without the remarks.

"The Australian", on the other hand is quite adjective free and straight to the point. Labor, by the way, still support withdrawing Australian troops by Christmas.

And then there's this curious mix of news with light-hearted political commentary about John Howard's previous American appointment:

"Mr Howard, who has become a kind of international Tory pin-up boy in recent years, was also able to offer some elementary political lessons to the Governor [Schwarzenegger], explaining that a 'Liberal' in Australia connotes a different meaning to that of a 'liberal' in America.

" 'It's a slightly different thing ... Liberal in Australia is Centre-Right,' he told Mr Schwarzenegger."
Not that Schwarzenegger, who's been accused of being a "liberal" himself (small "l") would probably mind.

But "a Tory pin-up boy"? That's almost cute.

UPDATE: The walking digrace that is the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown can't stay out of the media spotlight too long, today defending Mark Latham from President Bush's "attack":

"Senator Brown said the president had crashed into domestic politics in a way which was insulting and patronising... 'President Bush should pull his head in. This is Australia. It's not Florida or Alaska or Texas... When the president criticised, quite clearly, Mark Latham and the Australian opposition and that large body of Australian opinion wanting the troops withdrawn from Iraq, Prime Minister Howard should have admonished him ... right there and then'."
Bow Brown, of course, never criticises foreign leaders or their policies, right?


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