The only beauty contest that Joe Hockey will ever win
After a week when the Liberals took decisive action to reduce their political footprint Joe Hockey is sitting snugly between ‘Someone Else’ and ‘Don’t Know’ as the preferred Liberal leader.
If politics really is Hollywood for ugly people, then this week’s Essential Report shows Joe is about to slip on the political swimsuit and start strutting his stuff by default.
The polling confirms what we all supected – the nation is over Malcolm Turnbull, it can’t abide Tony Abbott and it doesn’t really know who Julie Bishop or Andrew Robb are. As for Kevin Andrews, like his own party, we didn’t bother to ask. This leaves just three credible options for the Liberals: Don’t Know, Someone Else and Joe Hockey.
Which of the following do you think would make the best leader of the Liberal Party?
Let’s deal with these three options in detail.
Don’t Know – this is the position the Liberals have been trialling for the past week. It works like this. You call a party room meeting and offer the MC job to Wilson Tuckey. You hand the conch around the room and let debate continue for eight hours. You nearly miss question time. When a few people leave the room you determine the issue in your favour without a vote. Then you roll your leader. When someone sensibly asks, who is running the show? The answer is clear: Don’t Know.
Someone Else – As opposed to the rudder-less ranks of the ‘Don’t Know’ backers, those promoting Someone Else at least agree they need to have an individual running the Party Room, their only problem is that they individual they want is yet to be born. On current evidence, this person needs to be able to embrace climate change while denying its existence, sound the dog whistle on refugees while embracing the economic opportunities in the region and be able to lie down with an array of rabid canines without getting fleas.
Joe Hockey – As we wait for these advances in genetic technology, there is our man Joe.
Points for Joe:
- He doesn’t actually want the job. The Liberal leadership now fits into the Catch-22 frame – if you are mad enough to want this job, then you are too crazy to be a serious contender. Hockey genuinely appears to sane enough to pass this threshold.
- He comes across as a decent bloke – the basis of his public name recognition is the old Sunrise love-in with his old sparring mate Kev. The idea of turning the national political debate in a breakfast news show hosted my Mel and Kochie appeals to many. Maybe we can reach agreement on an ETS through a other bonding hike – maybe out across Greenland’s melting glaciers.
- It will be great for cartoonists – there is nothing like a big man with a disproportionately small head to make us chuckle.
- It will be great for headline writers – Australia has never had a leader whose surname is an Olympic sport. Just wait for the convergence - if he’s caught kissing someone – tonsil Hockey; if he’s giving someone the cold shoulder – ice hockey; if he is reducing emissions – air hockey (Scrap that last one, it will never happen).
Points against Joe
- He comes across as a decent bloke - it was noted during the Oceanic Viking stand-off that Turnbull was just not racist enough to run a credible scare campaign. It is a character trait that could hamstrung Joe as well.
- The poor fella has three pre-school aged kids. Once he gets through managing the chaos in the house and cleaning up the mess of a bunch of fractious trouble-makers still in nappies, he will just not have the energy to meet his domestic duties.
- Like 74 per cent of the population, Hockey believes it is important to address climate change. At some point – either before or after Copenhagen - he will be forced to choose between the mainstream and the flakes in his party room. Either way, he will be disappointing people.
- He is a large man who perspires when under pressure (witness his string of sodden WorkChoices appearances in the dying days of the Howard regime). The Liberals created the playbook for campaigning against size XXX with the Beazley ‘no-ticker’ assault. One way or the other, Joe faces becoming the Biggest Loser.
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