Journal of a Rudd staffer: a touching soap Oprah
Arrive in office. Ask mini-Rudd if he’s prepared the morning news summary. Mini-Rudd says he’d really prefer I called him Lucas. Tell mini-Rudd I’d really prefer it if he were older than 22, because I find it really awkward having to push around my chief of staff.
Mini-Rudd says as chief of staff he should not have to do news summary. Demand mini-Rudd get me coffee before he finishes news summary. Mini-Rudd grumbles something about going to the union.
Meeting with Rudd.
Rudd asks for Wikileaks damage assessment.
George (National Security Adviser) says all damage sustained exclusively by Labor Party. Fitzgibbon and Arbib main victims.
Rudd asks if Australian life has been put at risk by leaks.
George worried about lives of any Australian named Assange, or anyone with a name that is kind of French with an A in it. Americans are terrible at picking right target.
Arbib in. Rudd asks me to sit in, always need a witness present during meetings with Arbib.
Arbib asks Rudd to stop stating that Assange has not broken any Australian law. Rudd is undermining PM’s strong anti-Assange stance.
Rudd says its not his fault that Gillard accused Assange of doing something “illegal and dangerous”. Rudd asks Arbib, how did PM came up with that line, a focus group?
Arbib says “it tested really well” and demands Rudd get behind the “illegal and dangerous” line.
Rudd has a better idea. Opens briefcase – pulls out American football (I am always amazed at how well prepared Rudd is). Throws ball out door. Asks Arbib to chase ball, like a good Sports Minister.
Arbib accuses Rudd of selfishly sabotaging Gillard Government.
Rudd pauses. Thinks Arbib makes a fair point.
Arbib says he’s relieved Rudd has seen sense.
Rudd says Arbib has convinced him that he’s not only not a good Foreign Minister but that he isn’t cut out for politics at all. He promises to resign as the member for Griffith tomorrow. Rudd is sure Arbib will locate a fine candidate for the by-election who’ll romp it in.
Arbib fetches ball.
Mini-Rudd says Assange needs a laptop, with internet.
Rudd wants mini-Rudd to get him two!
Mini-Rudd says he is on to it.
Rudd tells mini-Rudd “that’s why you’re my chief of staff”.
Meeting ends – I order 8 coffees from mini-Rudd.
Mini-Rudd returns. I pour coffees down sink. Lesson for mini-Rudd about disappointment and failure in politics, despite best efforts.
Rudd storms into my office. Says he just saw news. Asks if I knew Oprah was in Sydney tomorrow.
Rudd asks why it was not in his news brief.
Thought now that Rudd was not PM we did not need to summarise celebrity gossip.
Rudd says he needs to know EVERYTHING.
Point to the five TVs in my office. Oprah is on 7, 9, 10 and ABC. SBS has Croatian news, but the top 3 headlines are Oprah related.
Rudd sees Gillard in shot with Oprah. Rudd says if Gillard’s been with Oprah, he needs to be with Oprah.
Ask Rudd if he really wants to lower himself to that level.
Rudd nods vigorously.
Just spent two hours on phone with Oprah’s representatives. Most important person I have spoken to is Oprah’s third personal assistant. He’s responsible for carrying the bags of shoes.
Ask mini-Rudd how he is going with laptop. Says he has convinced Ambassador to give Assange a mouse. Is working on keyboard and USB stick. If Assange is all he’s cracked up to be he should be able to build a computer himself.
Speaking to the chef to Oprah’s personal chef.
Finally speak to top Personal Assistant. Says she is equivalent of Oprah’s Chief of Staff. Says Oprah deals exclusively with Prime Ministers, patients with rare terminal diseases, and people with inspiring personal stories.
Pass information on to Rudd. Rudd says he and mini-Rudd will start working on story.
About to go home. Rudd catches me. Says I need to go to meeting about Wikileaks on his behalf.
Arrive at meeting with Swan and McClelland. Swan delighted to see me! Always prefers me to Rudd - says I use the C word far less.
McClelland reports that his department could find no source of law to charge Assange. Advice is that Assange has done nothing illegal. BUT department does think he’s done something dangerous.
Swan delighted that we get to keep half of line! Now only need a word to replace
“illegal”. McClelland one step ahead of Swan, has asked department to put together list of words. His favourites are immoral, terroristic, and, unlegal.
Swan asks what unlegal means. McClelland says it means it’s legal but we wish it wasn’t.
Ask whether government will respond to American suggestions that Assange be assassinated. McClelland didn’t realise he was expected to investigate that as well.
Suggest new approach to managing Wikileaksgate, as Swan calls it. “We shut the fuck up”.
McClelland says he will run it past department. Swan agrees with plan but is worried Rudd is rubbing off on me.
Swan gives me and McClelland high fives. Says he thinks he could really do this Prime Minister thing for real. Swan is cute.
Arrive in office. Rudd and mini-Rudd show me 40 minute audition tape for Oprah.
Mini-Rudd is weeping. Says tape is as sad as Four Weddings and a Funeral, as inspiring as Erin Brocovich, and has the deep meaning of Eat, Pray, Love.
Tell Rudd film is great – just not sure Oprah’s audience is going to relate to genius-diplomat who overcomes the hardship of losing the Prime Ministership, to become Foreign Minister for “the sake of the whole world”.
George worried at damage that could be done if audition tape were leaked. Audition tape more embarrassing than World Cup bid.
Rudd agrees not to submit tape.
Rudd calls Oprah personally. Speaks to Executive Producer. Equivalent to Foreign Minister of Oprah. Rudd explains his efforts to help protect Julian Assange from assassination and to provide him with a prison laptop, in the face of fierce opposition from the evil Mark Arbib.
Foreign Minister of Oprah sympathetic but declares it’s imperative for Oprah to retain good relations with the USA. She can however offer a trip to Kiribati. Rudd really disappointed, would have loved Volkswagon.
Swan calls. Says he has been speaking to Oprah. Has heard that Rudd is planning to help Assange.
Swan says he is sending over McClelland to negotiate with Rudd. Rudd is furious Swan is sending McClelland. McClelland is the only member of Gillard’s front bench he feels guilty yelling at.
McClelland arrives. Declares that Rudd has violated several treaties. Rudd asks McClelland how he knows. McClelland says Rudd has been leaked against by Oprah. Rudd says he thought that leaking was “dangerous and illegal”. McClelland corrects Rudd, “unlegal” is proper term. Rudd points out that McClelland is himself leaking by leaking the leak to Rudd. Demands to know why McClelland is conducting himself in a dangerous and unlegal fashion.
McClelland says he needs a dark, quiet room to think this through.
George submits latest Wikileaks damage assessment. No change - all criticism continues to be towards Labor party, none towards Rudd.
The rise of Rudd the Maverick rolls on. Will continue to take notes from Turnbull’s twitter feed.
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