On Monday, Bill Shorten was roasted after not promising to end offshore detention. He’s the saviour by default – and I’m not sure the halo is realistic.
On Monday evening, the Great White Hope of Auspol strode the top step of the podium to address the volcanic, albeit supportive baying mob of #QandA, to secure their vote, and to enable his ascension to the throne. It was a moment worthy of Hollywood, not in what was said, but rather what wasn’t. In a parallel closer to The King’s Speech than The Great Dictator, Bill verbally stumbled, denying the hooting audience the pleasure of the promise they expected to hear.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) 11 June 2018
The answer was not a flat no, but a political maybe, focusing on local resettlement and greater oversight. Ok. What was missing was the same promise of a timeline, as he has done previously in matters close to his base, such as promising to bring marriage equality to term within 100 days of his Prime Ministership. Offshore detention was not afforded the same, which enabled vituperative online scorn toward him, his own not caring for his politicising, thousandfold comment boxes stuffed with angst, all unified by a suggestion that he grow a pair of the testicles he’s apparently lacking.
The problem was that he gave a political response, and his supporters were let down by the lack of grandstanding. They needed him to be a man of grand action, because a lot of grand things need to be actioned.
This whole thing also reveals something about the left, and indeed the way that they view Malcolm Turnbull.
Because Bill is the apparent opposite of evil, he’s therefore good. He’s a vessel of their ambitious De-Trumblisation. He’s Gandalf on a White Horse, he’s Mum coming through the door with surprise KFC, he’s the fabled knife standing against the 10,000 spoons of fuckery. Election day will soon come, and all problems will evaporate, and Australia will magically shift back into the land it was, as we’ll stumble out of the technicolour horror of the ballot box, wondering if the previous eight years were just some crazy dream.
But, much like Dorothy’s return to Kansas, we’ll notice that the faces certainly look familiar, and that’s the problem, Toto. We’re expecting far too much of him. We’re expecting him to be the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, when in reality, he’s a man furiously pulling the levers behind a curtain.
Over on Twitter, Greens Senator Nick McKim posed a question to Bill in the wake of the QandA capitulation.
For how many more years must they suffer Bill? How many more people need to die?https://t.co/khVsrkhdW9
— Nick McKim (@NickMcKim) 12 June 2018
The replies to the Twitter highlight the issue. Some castigated McKim for not asking Dutton the same question, some criticised Bill for not posing a question to Dutton, others criticised the Greens for criticising the ALP instead of uniting with them. Obvious fragmental division exists in Bill’s base. A lot of weight rests on Bill’s wand hand, a lot depends on his flick of the wrist to make Turnbull’s Australia magically disappear.
If he does manage to Mindfreak the election, don’t be surprised if the expected thousand blossoms of positive policy do not bloom, but are rather heavily salted by the same political inaction that hamstrung the ambition of the Turnbull years.
Bill we save us, but only after he saves himself.
He’s a politician, not a sainted magician.