Like pretty much every other political tragic in Oz I was glued to the teev the last three Tuesday nights watching The Killing Season. My eyes were agog and jaw was on the floor the whole time. Just couldn't believe the vindictive shenanigans these scheming, screaming, bloodthirsty backstabbers were engaging in for the entire duration of those six ghastly, traumatic years.
Sure, I experienced them at the time like the rest of you. But back then I was repeatedly recoiling in horror and struggling with a persistent feeling of defilement. Not privy to the internal machinations that produced such gruesome dysfunction I, like the other 23 million or so exasperated souls of this poor, afflicted nation, was simply trying to survive the ordeal day to day.
But now, with the adults back in charge and much of the bloody, toxic mess mopped up, we can look back at those events with only occasional surges of nausea. And The Killing Season certainly laid them out in compelling detail. Watching it was akin to being a survivor of a real train wreck being shown a documentary detailing every little mechanical and human error that led to your violent brush with death a couple of years after it occurred. Therapeutic is not too strong a word.
There were numerous serious cultural problems in Labor that the doco made clear. But one of the main ones was the stunning self-centredness of so many of the players.
Many have said that Kevin Rudd himself is a classic narcissist. And I think that's probably true. But almost every other Labor pollie seemed to be just as narcissistic as Rudd, of not more so. And if that man's affliction has shame at its root, theirs was driven by shamelessness.
Take Tony Burke detailing his coded telegraphing of support to Gillard pre-knifing. Then there was Sam Dastyari calling himself by his nickname, "Dasher". And they both actually played themselves in re-enactments!
These childish, self-indulgent arsehats seemed completely out of their league. But alarmingly they weren't at all. They were the league's undisputed champs. They'd done all the hard yards to reach positions of real power in Labor, and had exercized it.
Given how traumatic those events were -- and their respective roles in them -- you'd think they might be a bit reluctant to relive them, or at least be more guarded in interviews. But nup. These guys just lapped up the attention as if that excruciating period was some sort of wild, intoxicating adventure -- which it was for them, I suppose.
There's a saying that "politics is showbiz for ugly people". Of course that's meant to mean that it's a kind of theatre, and perceptions are important -- though not paramount.
But in the Australian Labor Party they seem to think that showbiz is all politics is. It has clearly lost its foundation of concern for workers, the marginalized, and the generally hard done by. It's now completely infested with young ambitious fools whose only goal is glory, power and adulation. No longer even the dregs of the middle class, they seem to be the castaways from Big Brother auditions.
That's very sad. And you really have to wonder how the hell it's gonna reform itself.