17 Apr. 2008

Dinner With Dickheads Redux

Peter Hartcher has more details on Rudd's dinner at the Sydney Institute the other night. Apparently the MC, Nick Johnson, chief executive of Barclay's Capital Australia, also mis-introduced Rudd as "Mr Ludd", Was it a play on Luddite? Or was he just pissed?
Yesterday, Nick Johnson said he might have been misunderstood.

"It wasn't a right-wing pushback from the Sydney Institute," he said. "It was meant to be an adulatory comment. It's a real challenge these days, defining areas of social change. How does a reforming government describe itself, set itself apart?"
Maybe he's just a compleat wanker? Hartcher reckons Rudd has not set himself apart for Howard at all:
Communism is dead, Rudd seemed to say, yet market fundamentalism is not the alternative. Having described what the reforming centre is not, Rudd then sought to explain what it is: ... a place where the market is balanced judiciously against the society, the private sector against the state, individual initiative against social responsibility.

The tagline is new, but the political space it seeks to describe is not. Indeed, this explanation does nothing to set Rudd apart from his predecessor.
What does set Rudd apart from Howard, according to Hartcher, is his consultative and open style of government, compared with Howard's strident "right-wing identity politics". Of course, we'll see plenty of that consultative style over the coming week, with the fallout from the 2020 summit likely to dominate media commentary. Who's "listening" now, eh?