Why Rudd should not be the Foreign Minister
It doesn’t wash that high profile Western Australian politician Stephen Smith would be happy to forego the plum foreign affairs portfolio to make way for Kevin Rudd.
For a start, Mr Smith’s high profile in his home state and the capital Perth is critical to the party improving its electoral appeal in the west, and a demotion to a lesser portfolio would not sit well with the Liberal-leaning punters.
Taking any parochial state-based political thinking out of the equation, there’s also the national interest to think of.
The foreign affairs gig ought to be the portfolio the man himself, Kevin Rudd, should least want in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s next cabinet, or any thereafter.
Yes, Mr Rudd is a former diplomat and fluent Mandarin speaker, and the international stage is a place he not only covets but where he has performed in an outstanding manner.
He has put Australia firmly on the table at the G20 and true, the sheer power of the man’s personality was on display in Copenhagen last year when, by Ms Gillard’s recall, he came “within a breath of brokering an international agreement on climate change”.
The reason Mr Rudd ought not be foreign minister is simple: he’d look a lot like a feather duster when surrounded by roosters at meetings where heads of state gather, almost always with their foreign ministers holding the jackets.
It would not be in our nation’s interest for him to be appointed to such a post, nor would it be fair to a man who clearly still has a lot to offer to Australian politics.
In terms of the global stage, you can’t bury the king then bring him back to life as a prince, or in some other diminished capacity.
Imagine if Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd needed to travel to Washington to hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
Mr Rudd is more accustomed to first-name basis and strolling red carpets with Mrs Clinton’s boss, President Barak Obama, and he’d find himself in an invidious and humiliating position were our former PM instead asked to play the role of White House door man.
There’s another reason why he ought not be given the foreign affairs portfolio now, and for a good while yet.
On a personal level, Mr Rudd and his brave family needs political rehabilitation - only time, hard work and a redefined mojo will help heal the wounds.
His week has been painful enough, and having committed to staying in politics, he needs time to recharge, rebuild and reconnect with the good voters of Griffith, in Brisbane’s leafy south.
Labor owes Kevin Rudd, a whole lot more for 2007 than the train wreck of 2010, and he deserves a senior portfolio divorced as much as Ms Gillard can, from his role as the nation’s leader.
A man of Mr Rudd’s intellect and political rigour needs a ministerial workload to keep his instincts positively engaged, while limiting the potential for an ugly 24 hours to gnaw away at him, turning him bitter.
Bilious Mark Latham is a good example of why Labor need not let regret get in the away of a political retransformation of Kevin Rudd.
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