I chanced upon some television last Friday that pitted Graham Morris against Tim Gartrell in a discussion of the recent wave of boat people headed for Australian shores.
A debate on "illegal immigration" is hardly going to be edifying, much less one that involves ex-heavyweights from each side of politics. And it's particularly daunting when the participants are the above two. (For the ALP, ex-National Director Gartrell put in an especially disgraceful turn in rolling up wetness, rightwing thuggery, and knee-jerk populism into an unpalatable ball. But that's another story.)
Graham Morris was once John Howard's chief of staff when Howard was Prime Minister. He leaves little impact on the world, judging by his web presence, but he has been a Howard adviser, Howard defender, and now PR flak. His latest appearance of note was on the ABC documentary The Howard Years.
And what a small man he was in the above debate. He displayed a manner and pettiness of spirit that was directly reminiscent of... John Howard. He could have been the doppelganger that took over from Howard when the latter got booted out - if Morris hadn't already been given the boot some years back - an apparent head rolled in the travel rorts affair of 1997.
But it's so damned uncanny! Such a close approximation of John Howard in a man who ostensibly shared such a brief stint on stage with him. The ingratiating yet supercilious mannerisms. The arrogant yet populist meanness. And the nasty streak behind him. For someone who has been apparently out of the corridors of power for so long, he wielded attitude like a big stick. Towards the end of his time, he appeared to directly threaten the preselection or senate position of anybody in the Liberal Party that held a view differing from the one he'd expressed.
In all, Graham Morris purveyed just the sort of dogmatic determinism you'd expect from the small man behind a small man.
Links: of the few traces I find of Graham Morris, you can pursue the following if you feel so moved:
- His entry on Zoominfo, a personal profile aggregator;
- ABC's The Howard Years is available here, although you'd have to trawl for Morris' appearances.