Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paddy McGuiness, the crass struggler

Conservative columnist and ex-Quadrant editor. If you took the name out of the following (from the Herald's Letters to the editor), most who recognise columnists by their writings would instantly recognise this description:

"The cultural prohibition of never speaking ill of the dead has always been in conflict with the desire to avoid the stench of hypocrisy in the nostrils as one unwillingly complies. As Paddy McGuinness himself never regarded such middle-class prohibitions as valid, neither will I.
Paddy's genius, in his later bibulous years, lay largely in his ability to deal in elaborately constructed illusions. Unlike Paul Sheehan ("Thinker, sceptic, commentator, cultural warrior", January 28), I was never able to detect, in those years, any trace of intellectual honesty or coherence in the illusory and often muddled word pictures that he painted of the fictional people he sought to parody.
Such straw men were daily constructed by Paddy only to be swiftly dispatched by what he no doubt regarded as his rapier-like mind. But they were without substance and their dispatch was intellectually meaningless. Paddy became embittered with a world that failed to recognise what he regarded as his genius, so he turned on it, and on himself, and tried to destroy both. He only succeeded with himself.
Les MacDonald Balmain

Bill Hayden and Bob Carr also give their view on him. One thing Hayden shares with McGuiness is apostasy. Hayden shed his republican principles to become Governor General; McGuiness shed earlier vestiges of leftism to become a right wing apologist.

Apostasy bemuses me. But my religious, political and ethical principles have remain unchanged since formed between ages 13 to 17. But apostasy in itself is not a sin. And Carr was enumerating McGuiness' part in the recent demise of the conservative government. He was more woolly than Gerard Henderson, somewhat on a par with Michael "Duffer" Duffy. I've seen McGuiness' shortcomings most succinctly detailed in the above letter. Follow the top link and you'll find another letter about his readiness to flout conventions about speaking ill of the dead.

The blog Larvatus Prodeo carries some comment on Hayden's words on McGuiness, referring to the latter's pretension to being a middle class "friend of the working classes" by the overlaying of class struggle with a "crass struggle" - an intentional mobilisation of conservative "battlers" (working class) against the non-conservative "intelligentsia" (read middle class) - and Hayden's part in that. There's numerous comments at bottom of that blog entry has an illuminating dialogue on the intersection between Hayden and McGuiness.

Update 31_jan-08: ex-PM Paul Keating has added fuel to the flames: "The quality of the Australian press will rise simply because his vituperation and contumely will have been excised from it." Apart from a few specific examples of McGuiness hypocrisy, Keating makes the quite valid point that McGuiness spent his [later, at least] columnist time fulminating against middle-class elites - when McGuiness was one himself, particularly as a poster boy for the Howard government.


Chris said...


Re Hayden's apostasy - surely you mean he left his republican principles behind to become G/G.


S Simmonds said...