Three years ago, in February and March 2004, [Malcolm Turnbull] branch-stacked his way into federal politics.Howard can't keep polling a mile behind Rudd forever. So why doesn't Peter Costello bite the bullet, abandon his ridiculously self-centered leadership pretensions, and throw his weight behind the new boy?
Sorry, let me rephrase that: he unlocked a grassroots democratic upswell in his local federal seat, Wentworth, which defeated the sitting member for preselection in this safe Liberal seat. The inconvenient local member was Peter King, who himself had knocked off the previous Liberal sitting member, Andrew Thomson.
At the time, another ambitious man, the Treasurer, Peter Costello, told reporters: "It's a pretty stiff deal that he [King] has been given after three years." Costello must have seen what was coming. John Howard, after four election victories and 11 years as Prime Minister, chose not to step aside in favour of his patient deputy (a decision the electorate has come to view as self-indulgent). Then Howard entrusted Turnbull, still in his first term, with the second most important job in the country, mobilising the nation on the greatest threat to Australia's long-term prosperity - water shortages and climate change.
Imagine the smirk on Costello's face when he told Johnny the deal had been done! Howard's dribbling bottom lip would be quivering like a rabbit in a cage! The Murdoch crowd would love it (Howard has always been a bit of a wannabe in the top social circles, however hard he's tried). And a Liberal leader called Malcolm has a certain... familiarity.
Turnbull is about the only senior Liberal who is not tainted beyond all hope by a decade of half-buried Howard government scandals. Seems to me he is their only hope. How long before the media picks up on that story?
How long before Tim Dunlop steals this idea for his Murdoch blog?