25 November 2007

The Narcissism of Kevin Rudd

There is no question that Kevin Rudd is narcissistic, given what I've independently observed and comments made by others who have gotten close to him, including a backbencher within the ALP. The question is how narcissistic. This is an important question about Kevin Rudd's personality that needs to be answered. Some of his behaviour can be strange, such as his chameleon-like ability to say, be, or do whatever he wants at any point in time regardless of how contradictory it is to the choices that were made before. If he just has the common every day self-centredness that aggravates people but he still puts the nation first, that's fine.

At the other end of the continuum is pathological narcissism. Some people who have had the misfortune of knowing someone with pathological narcissism will tell you that they never would have guessed at first, and by the time they realised their true nature it was too late and the relationship had already taken a substantial personal toll.

Anyway, this is enough for now and I'll just wait and see what he is like before speculating on his character.

24 November 2007

Waiting for the real Kevin Rudd? Don't hold your breath.

Rudd is becoming somewhat mysterious. I've been trying to find out who the real Kevin Rudd is. I'm not the only one asking that question; many people are.

It is amazing how so many people are not hesitating to swing to the Left, or whatever the ideology of the Labor Party is now. Australians tend to take a simple approach to politics. Whenever you get fed up - or just simply bored, even when a 1 trillion dollar economy is as healthy as it ever has been - just switch to the other major party. Howard has been very successful, but at the same time, there has been so much anger about some of his policies that it seems they will switch to anybody, even if they actually don't know much about the person.

There are plenty of comments about what might be the elusive Kevin Rudd - that is, the real one - from a variety of sources. He is a ruthless autocrat and can have a bad temper. He has a glass jaw. He is very calculating. It is no secret that he actually has no friends in the ALP. Nobody likes him, but they've chosen him as their leader as they don't care who it is as long as he can beat John Howard, even if it means actually adopting some of the Liberal Party's ideology.

Kevin Rudd is described as a chameleon who will adopt any position at any given time, leaving everyone confused from the many contradictory actions and statements. He has already openly shown his chameleon nature in the formulation of "his" policy - his famous "Me too!" approach - where he just flagrantly copies Howard's policies as he proposes them. I have never been able to understand this aspect of the campaign and how it has been successful. His voters for some reason don't mind letting Howard do all the work, and Kevin Rudd realises this. Am I different because I expect politicians to come up with their own policies and not just copy those of their opponents? Bizarre.

I suppose the comments that offer the most insight are from someone within the ALP's backbench, some of which have already been mentioned:

  • Friendless
  • Cynical
  • Autocratic
  • Egotistical
  • Narcissistic
  • Short-tempered
  • Thin-skinned
  • Condescending
  • Smart-arse

Narcissistic is one adjective I have already used to describe him.

After all my research, I am beginning to wonder whether the real Kevin Rudd actually exists. I wouldn't be surprised if all the usual spin and empty rhetoric which have been the hallmark of his brilliant election campaign don't cease and reveal the relaxed, every day Kevin Rudd that you are expecting. His personality quite possibly will evolve as he tunes it to his goals. I suspect Kevin Rudd sees a personality as a means to an end.

23 November 2007

Kevin Rudd to Unleash "Razor Gang" on the Public Service

On Saturday many voters will embrace Kevin Rudd and will trust him enough to give Labor both the House of Representatives and the Senate. To them, he appears to have miraculously bridged the ideological divide between the two parties and discovered the perfect balance where he can offer the wealth of economic conservatism and yet, at the same time, the compassion for the socially disadvantaged found in socialism. This of course is the dream of all Australians, whatever their ideological beliefs.

Notwithstanding the government’s good handling of the economy that has taken advantage of the mining boom driven by the rapid growth of China and India, many down-to-earth Australians feel that they have a moral obligation to reject the incumbent because of policies that to them appear to compromise the welfare of the Aussie battler for sake of free enterprise and his decision to commit our soldiers to a protracted military campaign that was justified by intelligence that later turned out to be false. This of course is not the view of all Australians, who are quite polarised in their views of the Liberal Party. Whether or not you believe that the Liberal Party’s policies have been motivated by a desire to create wealth and raise the overall standard of living for the good of the nation, Howard arguably has to be universally judged as ideologically a typical social and economic conservative.

Kevin Rudd has done the unthinkable by cutting ties with the militant unions (or so we believe) who now feel betrayed because he will not fulfil his promises after accepting millions in donations. He is also planning on slashing spending in the public service. This is a bold announcement to make just before the election, because it will cost jobs.

These voters will be excited to see this bright clean-cut rising star as being the ideal choice after waiting for a long time for an alternative. Unfortunately, the less apathetic voters who have carefully considered his proposed policies can be easily forgiven for holding an entirely different view. One cannot help but be sceptical about his promise to take on head-to-head the powerful unions who founded the Labor Party and quite understandably expect him to restore the power they once had that was diminished by the Liberal Party's reforms. Will he seriously be able to maintain an iron grip on his authority over the rest of the party to curb the former union officials who make up the majority of Labor and believe that the basic freedoms of workers have been undermined? One thing is certain: there will be no shortage of members who secretly despise him as a traitor and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are making plans on how to remove him should they win government at this very moment. Labor is hopeless at maintaining unity to further the party’s general goals, but such is their desperation that they’ve had enough self-discipline to force their smiles and wait a little while before bringing out the knives. It is hardly surprising that throughout the campaign just about everyone else including those expected to be on the front bench have rarely spoken outside interviews and debates, and when they have, left us confused with an embarrassing set of contradictions. Was Peter Garret really joking when he said they were going to do a complete back flip on the policies that have been flagrantly copied from those of Howard? Even before such a frank admission or foolish joke there have been such suspicions. If they plan a back flip, it is unlikely to be a decision of Rudd’s, and he’s unlikely to remain should this be the case. If he isn't swiftly booted from the leadership, then there will just be the same chaos that seems never-ending, only this time it will well and truly disrupt the running of this country.

The biggest question of all everybody is asking is what Rudd personally wants to achieve. One cannot help but wonder if underneath this well-mannered intellectual is nothing short of an absolute control freak seeking centralised power. Throughout the campaign he has clearly kept other members of his proposed front bench as silent as possible without arousing too much suspicion, and the lack of communication shown through the contradictions and gaffes leaves one wondering if he has run the whole show alone throughout his campaign.

It is difficult not to believe that this fantasy of a government that offers the best of everything from the two parties is just a complete con.

He has just announced that he, in the name of fiscal conservatism (which has become an irritating mantra, but seems to be having the desired effect) is going to sack workers in the public service:

"Well a razor gang is precisely what it says — you look at the totality of government outlays and see the extent to which fat can be cut in administration and delivered to frontline services instead,"

Confused that he has revealed that jobs will be lost, and not only that, had the audacity to use such insensitive words like a ruthless CEO in a board meeting? Don’t be. Use of the term razor-gang is deliberate and is spin at its finest; he is trying to promote himself as a shrewd economic manager who is prepared to make tough economic decisions. It is easy for common every day Australians to understand the justification for sacking workers in our government where there is clearly a lot of inefficiency. Also, he hasn’t revealed his hit-list, so you’re not going to see any picket lines yet.

Restructuring the government’s bureaucratic machine is no trivial task. Nobody can praise this policy announcement because he hasn’t shown Labor has improved and now proposes policies backed by proper study instead of nebulous ideas. It’s just too easy to give the impression you’re a fiscal conservative by sacking workers in government en masse who are easy targets. Well, easy for Rudd to do anyway.

After such a policy announcement from a man who lets us know on TV that he can beat Howard in a pub brawl, there is absolutely no legitimate argument to be made that Kevin Rudd has shown any more compassion than Howard when it comes to working Australians. Office workers are entitled to just as much compassion from government as our blue-collar workers on construction sites and similar unionised workplaces. One thing is certain: jobs will be lost under Rudd at his behest, and to make matters worse, he hasn’t provided the proper justification that you would expect in the formulation of economic policy and it is more than reasonable to expect that this should be provided. It is no different to announcing redundancies in a national corporation, except that he hasn’t even attempted to tell us what the savings will be. Businesses almost always explain what’s behind such decisions, but our prospective government announced this one and kept the policy away from scrutiny. For all we know, Rudd might have just thought it was a neat idea.

You might draw comfort from the fact that there are also reports of plans to do precisely the opposite and increase spending in the public service as well. The proposals are confusing and contradictory but he has every intention of axing jobs in the public service.

22 November 2007

Will the grass be greener under Rudd?

Just then I watched an interview and for the first time in this election campaign I listened very carefully and kept an open mind about him and the Labor party. And I wasn't just disappointed, I was concerned. Not by what he said. I must admit I really couldn't disagree with anything he said. Unfortunately my impression was worse because for the entire interview, he effectively said nothing. He was full of empty American-style rhetoric where the hopeful utters an extraordinary number of words with the least amount of content. The message was simple but meaningless: in return for your vote, you will get me. But wait, there’s more: he is a fiscal conservative, just ask him. That might be enough to convince the swinging voters that are looking for someone who will have the Liberal Party’s key strength – good economic management – minus their industrial relations reform.

My opinion is different: while he might be bright, he does not have much skill in economics, which is in short supply in the present Labor Party. It is far from reassuring that he thought he could deceive the Australian public by telling us that productivity dropped just when there was a sudden jump in the number of jobs.

To counter criticism of the Labor Party because it is full of ex-union officials, he insults lawyers to tell us that their party has a bigger heart because it does not have as many lawyers as the Liberal Party. Somehow I don’t think this is valid as a counter-claim. The problem is that it is difficult to trust that the party has the nation’s interests at heart if it is being run by former officials of powerful organisations that can do great harm to business and affect the community as a whole since they will be heavily involved in passing the laws that are needed to control their activities. The lawyers in parliament are no less independent than any of the other members there. Furthermore, there should be some in parliament. The people trained and experienced with practising law have to be involved in the creation of law. Creating laws is not as simple as you might think. Ever heard of loop holes which allow the most outrageous failures of justice to occur?

I don't recall him explaining in any reasonable detail how he intends to implement his agenda. And he didn't seem real at all; it is as though all the effort he has put into in his campaign has gone into carefully crafting his persona rather than formulating policy to convince Australians that he has more to offer. Politicians always put on a polished performance and indeed they should. This is different though. There is just no telling what lies beneath surface.

I hope Labor voters can offer me a good reason why they intend to elect him, apart from just “he is not Howard”, “he has been there too long, time for a change” and “he will abolish WorkChoices”.