Belvedere Jehosophat - Sunday, 5 July 2009
Only the most blinkered of idiots can pretend that the events of the last few weeks weren’t damaging for Malcolm Turnbull.
I am, of course, referring to utegate, which, if it comes to claim the political career of Turnbull, might survive as something more than a vaguely interesting blip in Australian political history. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you’d like to see this thing pan out) it doesn’t look like Malcolm Turnbull will be going anywhere, certainly not of his own volition. I’ll get back to why in just a little bit.
Stop at Nothing was made available sometime between the 4th and 19th of June, which in the utegate timeline roughly represents the moments the shit left the hand and subsequently hit the fan.
It is in this context that Stop at Nothing becomes most interesting. In her essay Crabb reveals the personality of Malcolm Turnbull that has driven him in his multifaceted career, that of the crafty lawyer, the cutthroat businessperson, chairperson for the Australian Republican Movement, and, most recently, aspirant to the office of Prime Minister.
We can see in Turnbull’s personality that there was no other way for him to proceed on the utegate issue. Turnbull, we’re told, responds to bullying antagonistically, whilst coming across, somewhat paradoxically, as being a bully himself. He is an opportunist – though he is quite willing to force that opportunity if and when it doesn’t present itself of its own accord, as evidenced by his hostile takeover of the seat of Wentworth. Furthermore, his most famous stoushes, those in which he made his name – Spycatcher, the Costigan Commission, the Tourang consortium – all involved cloak and dagger operations of altogether dubious necessity.
How then does a person, a truculent, ambitious, opportunistic person with a penchant for melodrama such as Turnbull respond to the possession of an e-mail that could potentially inflict substantial political damage to the Prime Minister? Evidently, & to put it as succinctly as possible, he blows his load, and spectacularly.
And, to return to that earlier point, that it is unlikely that Turnbull will be quitting as leader of the opposition, especially now that he seems to have been cleared of any wrong doing by the AFP, that can also be traced back to Crabb’s essay. For the same reason that after losing the campaign for an Australian republic he moved on, it becomes abundantly clear from reading Stop at Nothing that Turnbull isn’t a careerist. He is constantly moving. Another clue, perhaps, to the disastrous haste in which he prosecuted his case?
Stop at Nothing is a good essay, one made better because of the timing of the release in that it helps answer one very pertinent question: how could he have been so fucking stupid? Crabb’s profile of the man is, all told, considerably more complex. His imperfections are balanced by the positives: the generosity, charm, wit, keen intelligence, etc. It is worth reading, however, as it allows for an insight into the man who regards himself as Australia’s alternative Prime Minister.
Stop at Nothing