The world belongs to Kevin. It always will.
Kevin Rudd, the backbencher from Queensland? No such thing. In his own mind, he’s still Foreign Minister. Prime Minister, too.
Rudd turned up in the United States last week and addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It’s a talk that should have been given by his replacement, Bob Carr.
If Australia knows that Rudd is no longer the Prime Minister, or Foreign Minister, the rest of the world does not. Because Rudd is still roaming it, acting as though he is.
Check this opening line from his speech.
“When I mentioned to Henry Kissinger in New York on Monday that I was coming here today, he observed that…”. It doesn’t matter what Kissinger observed. It’s Rudd’s tone that matters. Me and Henry. It was a huge namedrop.
And Rudd was dropping his own name as much as he was dropping Kissinger’s.
Rudd went on.
“It is also a great honour to be welcomed so warmly here during my first visit to this great city of Chicago—including having been received by Mayor Rahm Emanuel - who proffered his objective view that Chicago was without doubt the greatest city on earth.”
Since when are miniscule Australian backbenchers personally welcomed by the Chicago mayor? The mayor might welcome a delegation of Australian backbenchers, but one bloke, with no portfolio?
You have to wonder: has Rudd actually told anyone in the US that he doesn’t have a national, let alone international, role? Have they done their homework?
Or does Kevin tell them: “Mate, it’s all sorted back in Oz, bit of a shitfight, nothing serious, small misunderstanding, I’ll be back in January, no f****n probs.”
A question I put to Rudd’s media person was: “Could you also clarify in what capacity Mr Rudd addressed the Chicago Council?”
The response: “Not something we discussed specifically with them - they were very happy to have him though.”
Rudd has not taken his ball and he has not gone home. Australia now has two Foreign Ministers, and two Prime Ministers.
“I come here not just as a new friend of Chicago,” said Rudd. “I come here as an old friend of America. Australia is one of America’s oldest continuing allies. We had been in the trenches with each other in every major war over the last 100 years.”
Note his use of the perpendicular pronoun, “I”.
Backbenchers don’t use such language. They would never dare.
A backbencher would say: “As an Australian, I come here as an old friend of America.”
Backbenchers are sent forth to represent the government. Rudd represents the Kingdom of Rudd, a one-man island nation to the west of New Zealand, south of Indonesia, and just east of Rottnest.
The Chicago talk was on China, one of Rudd’s areas of expertise.
Noting growing tensions in the South China Sea, Rudd delivered this killer: “My purpose today is not to attempt to foreshadow any detailed course of diplomatic action.”
He did not say: “My purpose today is not to attempt to foreshadow any detailed course of diplomatic action, because my government doesn’t permit backbenchers to foreshadow diplomatic actions involving countries as important as China. That would be the job of the Foreign Minister or the Prime Minister.”
But I forget. He holds both of those titles.
“Nonetheless,” Rudd went on, “I am sufficiently concerned about unfolding events in the South China Sea to flag the fact the time has come for all parties to take a deep breath, step back a little, thereby enabling all of us to take stock.”
Once again, note the language, the use of the personal pronoun. Note that he, Rudd, the backbencher, has issued a worldwide alert.
Rudd continued: “In the last week I have been in the United States in discussions with the UN Secretary General, Vice-President Biden, Henry Kissinger and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. China has been the constant theme for us all.”
By using the word “us” in such company, Rudd elevates himself close to the pinnacle of world power, and world wisdom.
On Thursday, Rudd was in Canada, charming them with his knowledge of French (“Merci beaucoup tout le monde”), discussing Australian policy direction and talking about what he called “my” challenges with globalisation.
Why, anyway, has Rudd been meeting all these people, particularly the UN Secretary General? Who does he represent, beside himself? And does Bob Carr know about it?
He must. Maybe Carr just shrugs and thinks, “Oh well, that’s Kevin.”
Or maybe the fix is in. Come January, or whenever Coup II arrives, Rudd will permit Carr to remain as Foreign Minister.
But watch out, Bob. The world belongs to Kevin. It always will.
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