MUNGO MACCALLUM.  Morrison joins the dark side.

The conservative line about Donald Trump used to be that really, he himself was not all that important. What mattered was the unbreakable link between Australia and the United States, our great and powerful ally.

Such was the strength and durability of the alliance that a single president – a single administration – was only a passing phase, one that could be managed without any serious consequences. And even when The Donald emerged as an archetype of mendacity, egomania and just plain craziness, Australia did not really need to worry, because the log-standing institutional stability of the most powerful and successful nation on earth would still survive his depredations and all would be well in the relatively near future.

But within this wall of reassurance was the implicit assumption that it would not be too smart to get too close to the dysfunctional White House, and that above all that partisan domestic politics – the only kind Trump knows – should be avoided at all costs. The idea was to play the game with the USA, not with the temporary POTUS.

However, it is now clear that Scott Morrison, normally a cautious ducker of policy risk, has gone over to the dark side and become an unashamed, even enthusiastic, acolyte eager to roll over and  have his tummy tickled at the slightest gesture from the Oval Office.

His zeal to embrace Trump’s  demented conspiracy theories in the prelude to next year’s presidential election campaign is not only  stupid and inappropriate – at a time when the beleaguered and barely rational Trump is fighting personal vendettas against his largely imagined enemies it is seriously bad policy and endangers rather than enhances the national interest.

Morrison’s ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey, pre-empted the grovel by telling Trump that sure, he would be willing to do anything within treason, sorry, that should be reason, to help out; then. as Morrison was preparing to pack his bags and his knee pads for his ritual obeisance, Trump rang just to confirm his riding orders – anything you can dredge up, especially about that treacherous pinko Alexander Downer, should be conveyed as soon as possible.

And of course ScoMo said sure, boss – whatever you say, it’s all part of our great history of mateship. Except that it isn’t – it’s all about subservience and servility and not even to the American nation, but to its deranged leader.

This  is the Morrison mindset – the attitude that regards criticism of the man as an attack on the entire country and its population, that insists that  any legitimate debate about, say, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and his authoritarian regime must be dismissed as anti-semitism. It is an echo of Morrison’s constant refrain when his own policies are queried: “Which side are you on?” The taunt of the kindergarten – demeaning, dangerous and deeply stupid.

But that’s our ScoMo. This goes further than identity politics – it is a cult of personality, the arrogance that leads authoritarian dictators to declare themselves president for life. If the alliance survives Trump and Morrison, it will be not because of them but in spite of them.


Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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10 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM.  Morrison joins the dark side.

  1. Avatar Andrew Glikson says:

    All that appears to matter nowadays (as well as in the “good old times”) is the “might is right” principle. On a tinderbox globally heating Earth, increasingly prone to fires, the genocide of helpless people (Rohinga Kurdistan) us becoming rampant, the UN has been largely replaced by the “Empire”. The icebergs are no longer noticed on the Titanic.

  2. Avatar Richard Ure says:

    Given Howard’s enthusiasm for the Iraq adventure, would he have been any less smitten by The Donald?

  3. Avatar greg hurst says:

    Alexander Downer, as our chief spy, has been exposed. In the interest of the Alliance,would it be , for the better good, right to hand him over to the CIA for examination? Perhaps waterboarding.

  4. Avatar paul walter says:

    As ever, Mungo MacCallum is spot on.

  5. Avatar James O'Neill says:

    Agreed Trump and Morrison are both dangerously inadequate men to be leading their respective nations. But what happens if Trump falls under the proverbial bus or worse? He is replaced by a dangerous non-entity from the mid-west. The lead Democratic Party candidates for the next election are both in their late 70s, one has just had a stroke and the other has all the signs of dementia.
    Isn’t the more serious question for Australia’s future about where its future interests really lie? Hint, not with the 15% of the world’s population that is white, ageing and dangerously out of step with the massive geopolitical changes that are occurring.

  6. Avatar Lorraine Osborn says:

    The grovel by Morroison to Trump may be more than an error of judgement. Scooter is a practising pentacostal and as such, an evangelical Christian. An American writer, Jeff Sharlet has written a couple of books about the world wide evangelical christian “family” that got going after the second world war and has infiltrated American political, institutional and public life. Trump is described as “the wolf” to ensure the dominance of these very dangerous people and their beliefs. This may sound like another conspiracy theory, however what Sharlet describes in his books is worth consideration. Trump of course is an opportunist, non believer who thinks he can use this for his own domination and money making. He is a pawn.

    • Avatar Jane Walton says:

      Lorraine, yes the phenomenon worries the life out of me. Netflix did a docuseries based on Jeff Sharlet’s book and it’s well worth watching if people have any interest in the power/political aspirations of the fundamentalist American expression of Christianity. Netflix has a free trial period btw.

      The Radio National Religion and Ethics report of this week ending 13th October also provides some valuable insights.

  7. Avatar Simon Warriner says:

    All good and true, but the deeper and far, far more important question that needs to be answered is


    Yes, I am shouting.

    Could it be that repeated iterations of selecting from a gene pool devoid of a functional understanding of conflicted interest and it’s dangers (party politics of any flavour) has eliminated even the last vestiges of common sense? Smart people don’t conflict their interests and thus are not available as party political representatives.

    I asked my elected member, and ex army bloke, successful businessman and respected member of our local farmers co-op, how he thought we should handle the dissonance between our trade and security partnerships. He responded with, “very, very carefully” in almost a whisper. It will be interesting to see how he handles his conflicted interests.

    Morrison’s trip to the US was more akin to a drunken ramble through the paddock out the back of a country pub than anything resembling careful diplomacy.

    If your job depends on sales to China, best you look for one that does not.

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