Heffernan's comments were actually carefully timed to take the latest polls and the WorkChoices debate off the front pages, and cleverly crafted to resonate with voters who know how to nod when they hear Biblical code-words like "barren woman".
The Prime Minister has proven himself to be a master of dog-whistle politics --campaigning using coded language that only resonates with some voters, playing on prejudice without using overtly prejudicial language himself.This is actually a classic Karl Rove play: you send out your Swift Boat goons to launch a deplorable attack, hit your opposition with a low blow, then pull back to base, shaking your head and muttering about what an embarrassment it's been.
You have to be listening on the right frequencies to hear a dog whistle, and the Prime Minister was letting it sound loudly at lunchtime yesterday...
Bill Heffernan has been allowed to remind voters -- once again -- that the deputy Labor leader is an unmarried fortysomething who doesn’t have any kids.
And we all know all about them, don’t we?
But the damage has been done. The mud sticks. And you know that damned well.