The (politics) business is a cruel and shallow money trench,
a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free,
and good men die like dogs.
There’s also a negative side.Hunter S Thompson
It is easy to criticise Malcolm Turnbull for his lack of political leadership. I do it often. Even more so because he is the indirect reason I decided to become an Australian citizen. He offered the promise of a better leader for our nation. Hope since shattered by the swinging shackles of party politics.
And what the debacle of same sex marriage has demonstrated more than anything, is that to be a leader of a political party is not just difficult, but almost impossible. The mere notion of leadership in politics has become a contradiction in terms.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for agreement, but a moulder of consensus”, said Martin Luther King. To become the leader in the first place, Turnbull had to make so many backroom deals that it effectively rendered him impotent as a leader who could mould anything. Whatever vision he may have had clouded by his desire to become Prime Minister.
Maybe he believed it would give him a platform to lead from the front. Maybe he believed that he could change the deals he made. Maybe he believed he was stronger than the party. What he failed to understand was that party politics is all about the deal, and nothing but the deal.
But deal-making is not leadership. And deal-making belongs in business, not in parliament. Yet we have come to accept that as the way things are done – or as Otto von Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor” of 19th century Germany said: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best”.
It is a sentiment that I vehemently abhor, but nevertheless, Malcolm Turnbull is a long way from being even ‘next best’. He will no doubt join Rudd, Gillard and Abbott in what I hope will be known as the worst decade in the history of Australian politics. Surely, it cannot get any worse. Or can it? No wonder Laurie Oakes is retiring…