MUNGO MACCALLUM. Morrison joins the conga line.

Sep 24, 2019

And so back to Mark Latham’s conga line of suck holes – Scott Morrison goes to Washington. The regular obeisance is hardly unexpected, but it is no less embarrassing for that.

Morrison has made it clear that the main purpose of his visit is to shmooze. He will continually tell The Donald how grateful and obedient Australia has always been to its great and powerful friend.

We have been in every war America has instigated  for more than 60 years – probably longer, but living memory will be sufficient for the moment.

We share the same values – well, perhaps not guns, but we like trade, at least when we are winning. We are worried about the Pacific, we are good at racist dog-whistling about the horrors of asylum seekers and we are at one in denying climate change.

Actually we won’t even mention it – after all, it would be tactless to do so when millions of children and adults around the world are demonstrating about it, and just down the road the United Nations is running an emergency session on the subject, a session neither of the recalcitrant leaders will attend.

So back on with the slobber:  Morrison fawned that Trump’s approach to his trade war was entirely justified and within the rules – Trump’s rules, at least. And anyway Americans know they have no better friend than Australia – 100 years of mateship.

We cringed back in 1966, when Harold Holt declared on our behalf: “We will be all the way with LBJ.” In 2019 we await a similar promise: “We will go up the rump of Donald Trump.”

Trump responded by dubbing Morrison a man of titanium; as trivia buffs would know, the principal use of titanium is the manufacture of white paint, make of that what you may. No expense was spared: a rent-a-crowd was enlisted with free flags handed out for the customers to wave, and there was a 19 gun salute, all of which unfortunately missed.

The jean-creamers of our obsequious leader’s cheer squad in The Australian could barely contain themselves and indeed are making no attempt to do so. Why, there was a state dinner – yes, POTUS actually invited ScoMo and his eager hangers (but not, sadly, his favourite happy-clapper, he ordered pastor, not pasta – perhaps the Americans misheard)  to sit down and eat with him, instead, presumably, of sending them out for some take away.

And we were breathlessly told that the menu included ravioli, fish and apple pie – a trifle bland, one would have thought, but at least there was little danger of anyone throwing up during the gush that followed.

And it has been 13 long years since our last state dinner, when George W Bush was duchessing John Howard.

Of course, we all know what happened then: our prime minister was anointed the President’s deputy sheriff and sent home to enlist Australians into America’s wars, with predictably disastrous results which are still playing out in the Middle East and beyond. Given Morrison’s easy acquiescence to Trump’s early sallies against Iran, the prospects are worse than ominous.

The first toast may well have been the preliminary to a poisoned chalice.

But Morrison obviously feels no apprehension – rather, he seems to revel in his submission. As long as there are a few photo-ops, a selfie or two, it will all be worthwhile. So let the kowtow continue.

And look at the famous people whom he has met: shitloads of the super rich (read: potential donors) and even a real celebrity – Greg Norman, maybe even Nicole Kidman. And he even visited Wapakoneta, Ohio – almost certainly the first Australian politician to do so. The reason? Australian’s richest man, Richard Pratt, is setting up a factory there, so the cardboard king is dragging along the cardboard prime minister for window dressing. A fitting end to the grovelthon.

Naturally the visit will be regarded as an amazing triumph for our prime minister; only one other head of government has been accorded the privilege of a state dinner by the Donald, so ScoMo must be something really, really, special.

The reality is probably rather more mundane. Trump needs all the friends (read sycophants and yes men) that he can get. He has alienated almost all America’s respectable allies, and the totalitarian dictators he finds most congenial are regarded as unacceptable even to his Republican colleagues. Morrison, by contrast, is very comfortable to sit on. What’s not to like? And ScoMo is only too happy to provide the beanbag Trump requires.

But it should not be said that Morrison is only interested in sucking up. He is equally happy sucking down, so come in, Pauline Hanson, and walk all over the supine and subservient prime minister.

There is absolutely no point in yet another inquiry into the Family Court; we know the main problem, the lamentable lack of resources offered by Morrison’s government. And in any case, of the last two inquiries one has been ignored altogether and the other has not even been finalised. No one – not the lawyers, not the experts, not even Morrison’s own party room – thinks that starting another one is a good idea.

But one of Hanson’s children has complained that he was dudded by the court, so apparently that makes it a matter of vital importance. Not only has Morrison acquiesced, he has already anointed Hanson as deputy chair of the bodgie exercise, an almost unique precedent and an entirely unwarranted promotion.

The backlash against nearly everyone who has a real interest in the subject has been intense,  but who cares? All that matters is that Hanson can be kept onside in the hope that she can deliver a vote in the senate to help Morrison secure his legislative agenda, which seems to consist exclusively of wedging the Labor Party.

The sight of the nation’s prime minister putting himself in thrall to the demented demagogue of the lunatic fringe should be humiliating and pathetic – and indeed it is. But that’s our glorious leader in action.

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