What readers think of the Abbott soap opera
Acting ability is not a prerequisite to land the leading role in political office, but if past experience shows, it can help sometimes.
Take, for example, the late Ronald Reagan. Reflecting on his career change and ascent to the top job in the White House, he once said, “I’ve often wondered how some people in positions of this kind … manage without having had any acting experience”.
Perhaps Tony Abbott would rather not model himself on Reagan, but it seems he has different ideas about what it takes to become prime minister.
Quizzed last week about a suggestion that he had been offered acting lessons by media specialist Marcus West to brush up his image, Abbott replied: “My image is what it is and I think that I will live with it and I hope Australians will too. I’m dramatic enough as it is, even at times melodramatic enough.”
One thing is for sure, politics and drama seem to go hand in hand. You only need to tune in to Parliament to recognise the symbiotic relationship.
But do Australians want their political leaders to be like John Wayne-style movie stars staging a showdown at the parliamentary corral or someone like their old mate down the pub?
Reader comments to online news site last week seemed to show a preference for the latter.
Frank Appleford of Melbourne, in a comment to the Herald Sun, expressed disdain at the thought of Abbott taking up acting classes: “Just what we need, more actors in parliament!”
James of Adelaide added: “Tony, stay as you are. We can see what we get. It is Krudd that needs coaching how to be one of the ordinary people and not one of his snobbery click.”
But Robert of Lindsey, on news.com.au, thought Abbott was already stage struck: “Tony off to acting school. Tony off to the ironman. Tony off for a seven-day bike ride. Yet the bloke still can’t answer any policy-based question about what he would actually do on any issue. I don’t think he needs acting lessons. He is doing a very good job pretending to be Leader of the Opposition at the moment. As the alternate prime minister of the country, a bit less acting and a bit more action might be good advice.”
The Opposition Leader was not the only politician whose personal style was a talking point last week.
Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce gave the Canberra press gallery a serve, accusing them of marginalising him over his free-flowing language and grassroots communication style.
Jude of Outer West gave Joyce’s down-to-earth style her vote of support on The Courier-Mail site: “At least Barnaby speaks a language that most understand - unlike the spin of Kevin 747. So keep it up Barnaby.”
But Silly Bludger of Brisnowhere disagreed: “It’s not about the language he uses so much as the fact that he just has no idea what he’s talking about. I hope the Libs keep him for a long time.”
Meanwhile, in his own inimitable way, Joyce told an interviewer on Sky News that voters appreciated Tony Abbott’s style.
“The thing people like about Tony is the real deal,” he said. “People on the street want reality but they don’t want pretend.
“They will smell it like dog poo on the shoes if they think it’s not the real deal.”
Perhaps, instead of going to the polls, the solution is for Abbott and Rudd to battle it out in a Big Brother-style house on a political reality TV show. Acting ability optional and may the best contestant win.
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