Chewin' the Gristle


Hello Gristlers! and welcome to Chewin’ the Gristle, the week’s political bits that we found hard to swallow.

This weeks Gristle is dedicated to that great advocate for the right not to wear pants Humphrey B Bear. Yes, it seems that the bear who dares to bare may fall foul of Eddie ‘Bone ’em’ McGuire’s honey cutbacks. In a fitting tribute, this week’s Gristle has been written while fully nude except for a waist-coat and straw hat. [I thought that’s how you always wrote this! Ed]


From one beloved children’s character to another, this week’s SMH/ACNielsen poll has struck fear into the hearts of the Labor Party by finding Kevin ‘Charlie Brown’ Rudd the most popular Opposition Leader in 35 years of polling. Anyone who belongs to or follows the Labor Party will recall that is pretty much how Mark Latham was faring nine months out from the last Federal election. The Labor Party can, however, take some comfort from the fact that ‘Charlie Brown’ is too small to beat up all but the shortest of taxi drivers and it’s hard to imagine him physically intimidating even John Howard with an over-vigorous handshake.

On the other side of the playpen, this week Tony ‘the Mad Monk’ Abbott, the Manager of Government Business in the House of Representatives, has announced that the Matter of Public Importance debate, held each sitting day after Question Time will, from now on, be curtailed to ensure it does not go over one hour. This will ensure the end of Independents getting a disproportionate slice of Parliament’s time with pesky matters of public importance.

The Gristle applauds this move and hopes it allows more time for the serious business of Parliament, such as we have seen this week, including: Malcolm ‘God Save The Queen’ Turnbull blaming Kevin Rudd for Queensland pensioners with bad backs; Peter ‘The man who walks alone’ Costello rabbiting on about Rudd drawing his research from Donald Duck cartoons; and the Mad Monk raving about Rudd believing that ‘Jesus is standing for a Labor Party seat.’

Yes, let’s minimise the Matters of Public Importance debate to allow for more Matters of Childish Sniggering.

It hasn’t been all beer and skittles for the Government this week, though, with Howard mistakenly denying the link between carbon emissions and climate change ‘Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that the jury is still out on the degree of connection’ and then having to return and recant. Apparently the jury was not only not out, but had returned its verdict, been discharged and was sitting at home with its feet up watching the telly. A couple of hours later, Howard returned to Parliament to clarify that he had misheard the question ‘I was wrong to talk about climate change and drought when the question was about climate change and emissions.’ By this time, though, the jury had had enough and was tucked up in bed with a cup of cocoa.

Thanks to Bill Leak

This was only the start of Howard’s week and he was saving the best for last. While the rest of us were eating toast or mowing the lawn on Sunday morning, Howard was on TV with Laurie Oakes trying to pick a fight with the US Democrats. Laurie asked what Howard thought of Barack Obama’s suggestion that a troop withdrawal from Iraq is possible by 2008. Howard responded:

I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory. If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.

Now, this tasty little morsel from our very own Napoleon has drawn pretty much universal scorn from the US where, apparently, they don’t like it when foreign governments tell them what to do. Go figure. The response was best summed up by Obama himself:

So if he is … to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and send them to Iraq, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.

Ouch!! Brendan Nelson, however, has defended the Prime Minister he believes that’s what his job as ‘Defence Minister’ means.

All in all, it seems like a fairly injudicious statement from Howard which begs the question: what was he thinking? Based on his gaffe earlier in the week, we think we may have it: when Laurie asked about Obama, is it possible that Howard thought he said ‘Osama’? That could explain why he was suddenly talking about al-Qaeda and victory.

We are only surprised he didn’t start suggesting that the Democrats have Weapons of Mass Destruction.

You can catch the Gristle on Radio 2SER 107.3 in Sydney or on the web at every Friday evening from 6:00 to 6:30.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.