Tuesday, August 08, 2006

MEDIA: Denton meets John the Baptist

The New Testament quotes Christ saying no man walked this earth greater than John the Baptist. The Koran paints him as a noble Prophet of Allah. But last night we saw a very different kind of John the Baptist on Andrew Denton’s popular talkshow Enough Rope.

Dr John Hewson comfortably spoke his mind on deeply personal topics -.his strict Baptist upbringing in Carlton, the effect of his mother’s illness and his working numerous jobs through high school.

Hewson spoke of his great successes in academia, business and politics. He was Professor and Head of the UNSW Economics Faculty. He worked as John Howard’s Chief-of-Staff, and consulted for what became Macquarie Bank.

Hewson also spoke of his weaknesses – his “cats in the cradle” attitude to his children, his addiction to work and his tendency to exude stress on those around him, acknowledging his marriages possibly failed because he was too much of a “handful” for his partners.

Hewson also gave us his assessment of other political players. He told us of his conversation with Paul Keating after losing the unlosable 1993 election. After virtually apologising for calling Hewson nasty names, Keating confessed:

Mate, you must understand. Politics for me is a game. I’ll say and do whatever it takes to win.
Hewson said he could never be part of this kind of politics. Certainly that seemed clear to me as a final year law student watching him deliver his speech after Keating claimed victory to his true believers. Hewson was far too honest for politics.

Howard, on the other hand, may be a different story. Hewson acknowledges growing up in a similar era and in similar circumstances to Howard – working class Protestant neighbourhoods in South-Western Sydney. But Hewson says Howard is still driven by many prejudices they grew up with – relating to women and ethnic minorities.

So how does Howard get away with exuding prejudice? Hewson says part of the reason is playing games with the truth and of hiding political “Chinese” walls of his advisers.

If he hasn’t been told, it’s because people around him know not to tell him what he doesn’t want to hear.
It seems obvious who Dr Hewson thinks more deserves the title “Honest John”.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

i loved the interview, he was open about his experiences and showed the flawed nature of man. He would have made a good PM.

weekbyweek said...

There is a lot to be said about Hewson.

At the end of the day, his honesty is offset somewhat by the fact he lost the unlosable election. Had he won, would he have become the archetypal politician? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

A curious character is so manny ways.

Anonymous said...

I missed the show last night, but I've just read the transcript and am left thinking, "why do we not get this sort of coverage in the mainstream media". JHewson seems to be honest and would not have played the games that Howard today is playing.

Anonymous said...

Ahh Irf, you are nothing if not consistent in your inconsistence.

It is quite apt that you identify with John Hewson. He, like you was a spectacular political failure and also like you, far from honest.

What both of you have to realise is that sitting outside the tent taking pot shots at people who were better tacticians than yourselves at the same treacherous endeavours doers not constitute an entitlement to any moral high ground.

You were and remain, no bloody good at vitually anything, so now you attempt to throw mud at people who are qhite good at the things at which you failed.

In Christianity envy is a deadly sin. Islam clearly has no such moral code.