Therese Rein has missed her shot at a commentary career
In a classic piece of understatement on the weekend, the SMH described comments by Therese Rein about her husband’s political future as “her first public comments hinting which way the couple might lean.”
As “hints” go, this one was about as subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish. Asked if she would support Kevin Rudd’s return to The Lodge Rein said:
‘‘Is it [supporting him in that role again] something I would do? I don’t know. But if I ever agreed to do that, it would be on the proviso that it was completely about the country, the national good, Australia’s place in the world and the people who have, over many years now, told me, ‘Look, we’re vulnerable on this or we’re hurting on that, and things need to be better.’‘’
What immediately ensued was one of those hilarious “outrage” media stinks between Rein and the leader of the Greens Christine Milne.
Milne took it upon herself to chastise Rein for her “destablising” comments, which were “not in the national interest.”
“This is Team Rudd letting everybody know that Kevin is ready to be begged to take it on.”
“I’ve seen Milne’s remarks. They are factually wrong & they offensive because she assumes I’m not an independent person with my own view.”
Obviously not one to give up the final say without a fight, Milne then dismissed Rein’s response as “faux outrage.”
How did we get here again?
That’s right… for the second time in three weeks Rein has made public comments about how she and her husband feel/felt about the way his prime ministership ended and/or whether they were up for another shot.
Last month at the Young Minds conference in Sydney Rein opened up about how the kindness of strangers had helped them through their crushing eviction as first couple two years ago.
I’ve learnt that, and I guess been refreshed in, the kindness of friends and the encouragement of friends. And also the kindness and gentleness, the loving kindness, of strangers, of people I’ve never met before coming up and saying thank you. Those acts of kindness really help when you are going through something that’s a bit challenging and difficult.
Before I go on, let me be clear that I do indeed think Therese Rein is an independent person with her own view.
But it would be naive in the extreme for her to think comments about the end of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership or his future prospects should be read as if they’re being delivered by any other disinterest party who just happens to have a view on the topic. And I can’t imagine Rein is naive.
Her message has actually been quite artfully delivered. The Rudd camp knows his popularity lies outside the Caucus room, with voters.
They appealed to this strategically (although unsuccessfully) during the leadership fight earlier this year, with Rudd’s daughter Jessica even urging her readers to ring their local Labor MPs and “own this spill.”
Rein’s message is consistent. To paraphrase, it’s about the good of the country, and people keep telling her it’s what they want.
When she says things like that, of course people are going to draw certain conclusions.
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