Whenever George W. Bush gets in big trouble with the polls, he goes on a national speech tour (and makes things worse). Howard is once again following Dubya's lead:
The prime minister is embracing his underdog status and will go on the offensive with the first in a series of speeches setting out a wide-ranging coalition agenda for the future.The problem is that talking about safeguarding the future does not resonate well from a man who has spent the past decade making such a mess of the present (think Global Warming, Iraq, etc).
"Today's speech will focus, amongst other things, on the kind of world that we will all face, by say the year 2020," Mr Howard said in his weekly radio address.
Howard's inside team are now in crisis mode, pumping stories to the media as fast as they can. But I'm not sure that this story was supposed to come out. Howard has ferreted away an additional $2.3 billion, on top of an estimated $12 billion surplus from this year's budget, which will be "available for pre-election promises":
The extra funding exists in government discretionary spending programs, which have yet to be revealed, Fairfax newspapers report.This is actually even more good news for Kevin Rudd: if Howard can promise to blow this wad, so can Rudd, right? It also gives Rudd ammunition against the standard "rates-will-rise-under-Labour" meme.
The money has funded past projects for regional and rural development, schools and water programs.
But the projects that would benefit have not been announced, giving way for a host of funding announcements in the lead-up to this year's federal election.
Also in crisis mode is an old fellow war-monger at the World Bank Headquarters, where Paul Wolfowitz is reinforcing widespread public perceptions of both himself and the institution as disgraceful tools of US Imperialism:
Joining a long line of critics of former U.S. deputy secretary of defense Wolfowitz, additional Bank officials are urging the institution's president to step down.More interesting background on the Wolf Man here:
Two sources confirmed to IPS that about 110 country directors, their deputies and program coordinators sent a message Friday saying they want Wolfowitz out.
At issue is a scandal involving excessive pay he coordinated for his girlfriend and then-Bank staffer Shaha Riza at a time when he was spearheading an anti-corruption campaign at the Bank and in its projects.
The officials, many of them considered senior staff, had met with Wolfowitz Wednesday at the Watergate office complex in Washington DC, where he was asked repeatedly to resign. At least four country directors publicly called upon him to leave his job which he took in June 2005, the sources say... More than 100 people were in attendance, the source says.
Wheeler, who had called for Wolfowitz's resignation a day earlier, received "a huge ovation" for his position, the source says.
Meanwhile, Wolfie's wife, Clare -- that's right, he's not divorced -- is reported to have written George W. warning him years ago that her husband's adultery could jeopardize national security!Here's Steve Bell's take:
Sigh... It didn't have to come to this, did it? But that's how these people are. Bastards all. So, which Bush stooge is gonna go next: Wolfie, Gonzo or Karl Rove (a man who won't let even Sherryl Crow touch him)?
Meanwhile in London, fellow Iraq war-monger Tony Blair's long, windy, God-awful farewell is finally coming to an end, just before the cops start nabbing his mates:
One Labour MP said: "He is going on May 9 - the day after the Northern Ireland Executive takes power.May 9th is only a couple of weeks away. There could be more Iraq warmonger blood on the carpet by then. Bring it on, I say!
"He wants to go out on a high note, not wait around to hear if or when the CPS are going to prosecute any of his friends.
"That would be the worst possible way to bow out."
Police are said to be determined that charges should be laid against three people involved in the cash for honours affair. It is believed officers leaked information that their inquiry had uncovered "serious wrongdoing".
Howard will probably survive at least a few weeks beyond Blair, given how gutless (and equally tainted) his cabinet colleagues are. It looks like the next few week's will be Howard's own private last desperate "surge".