The Hardest Hard-Arse of Them All
When told that certain muffins are as bad for you as ice-cream, the idea is not to eat more ice-cream.
Wrong lessons have been troubling me of late, since Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup especially. I was struck by the extent to which Wallaby supporters were willing to infer from their humiliating defeat at the hands of a sub-par All Blacks all kinds of things except the glaringly obvious. It is canine-testicles to a non-Aussie that the result was a searing indictment on the Wallaby team’s myriad weaknesses. It further struck me that the whining about All Black infringing, and bluster about injuries and poor fortune, are more than just helpful fibs to salve the sting of defeat. They are actually inhibitors to improvement.
The ALP is undertaking a review into the recent campaign which is either (a) recognition that it was atrocious, and therefore an encouraging development or (b) window dressing and, thus, pointless.
If rumours that Robert Ray will head the review turn out to be true, then that is a tremendously good sign. Robert is by far my favourite former employer. He possesses both the most well-tuned — and the least tolerant — bullshit detector I have ever witnessed. His toughness is legenday — but, unike other former factional “heavies”, this is not the product of careful image management and self-instigated myth-making (think Richo, Conroy, etc.) To the contrary, Robert has not the slightest interest in having a public image at all. In the place where politicians usually keep their tender and enormous egos, Robert seems to store an extra brain.
A former Defence and Immigation Minister, as well as a devastatingly forensic and effective Opposition Senator, Robert Ray treats the media with unbridled disdain (except in the rare instances where he finds them useful). In stark, stark contrast to his snivelling and obsequiois colleagues, he never panders to power or patronises voters.
Steve Bracks, another erstwhile boss and former Premier of Victoria, is the other name bandied about. He is a smart and steady fellow — but he is Jimmy Stewart and this is a horror movie. Nice guy, wrong genre.
If the campaign stunk only midly, Bracksy would do nicely. But the scale of the debacle is such that it will take a person in possession of rare qualities: a peerless political mind, unwavering integrity and a gigantic pair of steel balls.
Since one of my many unwritten books is “Robert Ray: Mind, Integrity, Gigantic Steel Balls”, it seems obvious that if Labor want to learn the hard but necessary lessons from its dreadful campaign, then he — and only he — is the person for the job.