If you thought John Howard finally got the message that it’s time he retired from politics, think again. It seems the ex-Prime Minister will soon be launching a new career in the United States as a hubristic has-been.
Howard has been endowed with the Irving Kristol award for his "contributions to improved government policy, social welfare, or political understanding."
The annual award is presented by the American Enterprise Institute, a Neoconservative think tank and outlet for the kind of elitist self-congratulation Howard so claimed to loathe.
The Irving Kristol award replaces the Francis Boyer award, which has previously gone to such luminaries as Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan – leaders renowned for their improvements to social welfare and political understanding.
Now that he has no use for appeals to the common battler, Howard is free to conduct a victory lap of the United States, collecting the medals he always wanted for supporting the Republican Government.
The Institute mentions that Howard’s middle name is Winston, after Churchill, and compares his defeat in the 2007 election to that of the British statesman after World War II. That defeat occurred after a 10-year suspension of democratic elections – which also reflects the current circumstances of George W Bush.
While the US has laws about staying in office too long, it is doubtless hoped that some of Howard’s magic lingering ability will rub off on the Republicans. In exchange, the Yanks will be swapping tips about contrived political dynasties. Could Melanie fill the void at the top of the Liberals’ food chain? Or is it time that Janette ditched her purse-lipped silence for a neoThatcherite butch?
Speaking of the Iron Lady, the Institute has also seen fit to compare Howard with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan – not for his tendency to be featured on punk rock album covers in compromising circumstances, but for his "strong commitment to the Anglosphere alliance."
The ‘Anglosphere’ is a curious concept, generally attributed to leftie science fiction writer Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age. Some linguistic quirk (such as not being allowed to say "the White race") has delivered it to Neocons, who have stripped it of irony like a meth-fuelled squirrel shucking a nut.
As part of the award, Howard will be giving an address to the Institute in March. This is likely to be the first of many such reminiscences, as the ex-PM becomes more and more like an elderly relative who won’t shut up about how great things were back in his day. Perhaps, after what he’s done to nursing homes and hospitals in this country, it would be fitting if he saw out his twilight years in the USA. Perhaps new Immigration minister Chris Evans could refuse him re-entry to Australia on grounds of character.
He’d probably be happy with any arrangement that offered him an audience. After all, Howard loved rewriting history – imagine the fun he will have with his own time in office.
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