But it was only a small blot on the landscape. Since those days when hope momentarily raised an ugly head, reality has seeped back.
The expected omens are all turning up. Disunity in government ranks, reports of anonymous ministerial despair, etc etc. Now the signs are getting more direct:
- Howard asked his cabinet whether he was the problem. But pessimism had already taken hold, and nobody could be bothered piping up. Nobody had an alternative, of course.
- The ALP comes up with a corker of an ad campaign: the one where an old man stays in bed while the alarums are ringing for climate change, water shortage etc. A real winner.
- Howard delves into youTube. With a crummy policy anouncement on climate change that draws screeds of negative comments. His own stalwarts, however, can’t be bothered sitting through it. Or they don’t know how to access youTube.
- Peter Costello, as Treasurer and second-in-command, bags Howard with either faint praise or outright hostility. On his ability, truthfulness, and politics. The comments were made last year after Howard failed to pass over the baton (again), but the significant point here is that Costello is currently declining to repudiate his comments or even defend the Prime Minister faintly.
And the truth is out of the woodwork, via John Howard’s silent partner, his wife Janette:
“You talk about a whole lot of things when you're trying to convince people to do things but you don't go back and honour every single one of those unless you have made a firm commitment about it, and John wasn't into making firm commitments.”