Is KRudd keepin’ it real?
Ask any marketing professional in the world today what they believe is the most potent asset in communications and they will tell you, authenticity – and if you don’t have it, then fake it.
Watching the Prime Minister singing at the community cabinet meeting in Brisbane last week reminded me of another performer with whom Kevin Rudd has more in common than he would like to admit.
In Eddie Murphy’s film, Coming to America, Randy Watson took the stage at the Jackson Heights School Hall to perform “The Greatest Love of All”.
There is no doubt the audience would have preferred George Benson’s original. But in Randy’s mind, he was George Benson and his audience loved him. Randy, like Kevin, had truly discovered that “learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all”.
Like Randy, I’m sure Kevin has a very clear view about how the rest of us should see him – perhaps an Australian version of Barack Obama or Kofi Annan. But like Randy’s audience, I prefer the originals.
In 2009 we have been seeing more and more of the real K. Rudd.
His outbursts at flight attendants. His hissy fit over a hair dryer. His indignation that Barack Obama thought someone other than him was the most popular politician on earth at the G20 summit. And just this week berating news editors for not writing stories the way he would prefer them written.
I think we can conclude one thing about Kevin Rudd - he is very, very precious.
Over time the real character of our leaders becomes transparent. For some, like John Howard, it was always apparent.
John Howard has been accused of many things, but being a phoney was never one of them. The same is true of Malcolm Turnbull – the most authentic and candid politician amongst us - what you see is what you get.
John Howard was as tough as they come in politics. However, his strong will also meant he could be very stubborn, which wasn’t always appreciated by the voters.
The flip side of Bob Hawke’s charisma was his insatiable personal vanity. And Paul Keating’s demolishing presence in the parliament was ultimately seen as unbridled arrogance.
At least in the case of these leaders there was an upside to their behavioural traits. I’m also pretty sure personal insecurity was not an issue. In K. Rudd’s case I’m not so sure. Knowing how you would like to be perceived is not the same as knowing who you are and what you’re about.
More than half way through his first term, Kevin Rudd has run some good lines and played the part cast for him by his handlers. Even the profanity is confected! But you could argue why should Kevin try and make it as an original artist as PM, if doing a cover version will suffice?
Some may think this is a bit harsh, but who in the Labor Party can honestly say that the issues upon which Kevin Rudd has sought to define himself have been the dominant passions of his political life.
There is no more important text to summarise your political passions as an MP than your maiden speech. Rudd’s speech began: “Politics is about power”.
Enough said. No wonder he is so happy to take instruction from the NSW Labor Right powerbrokers from Sussex Street in Sydney.
Unlike many of his Labor colleagues who feel passionately about these issues, you will find no mention in Kevin Rudd’s maiden speech of climate change or indigenous Australians. There was not even an acknowledgment of our first Australians. Climate change did not rate a mention for him in the Parliament until 2002, four years after he was elected, and only then in passing. It was only once he saw the political opportunity that you couldn’t shut him up.
And then there is his “commitment” to a republic. As a reformed monarchist, I may not share his alleged view, but I‘m sure Malcolm Turnbull and everyone else who has believed in that cause is wondering why Kevin wasn’t anywhere to be seen when it counted back in 1999.
And then there is his self professed admiration for Dietrich Bonehoffer (Kevin’s version of Randy’s Rev Brown), which he successfully used to appeal to Christian evangelicals before the last election. Again, you will find no mention of this “profound influence” on his values and world view in his maiden speech. You have to wonder.
I believe I’m not the only one who thinks that Kevin is not giving us a fair shake of the sauce bottle when it comes to his authenticity (and yes, I know Kevin, you grew up on a farm).
While I won’t compare Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner to Randy’s band, Sexual Chocolate, they both seem to know that their audience would prefer an original. No wonder Labor are so keen to tear down Malcolm Turnbull.
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