Far be it from me to revel in the misfortune of another, but this particular misfortune John Winston Howard brought on himself. It seems clear now that Howard had become such an empire builder, so blinded by his own ambition to emulate Sir Robert Menzies, that even when the best thing to do for his party was to step down, he refused to do so.
He had plenty of warning. But the polls were all wrong, apparently. When more than 80% of the 54% of Australians planning to vote Labor said that this was due to the draconian Work Choices legislation, he refused to believe it. When he was told by the public, and even by those whose counsel he actually sought that he was tired and failing to make an impact, he dismissed it. As much as I dislike Peter Costello, I have to admit that Howard should have handed over to him earlier. That would have taken the puff out of Labor's "New Leadership" platform. It's not all that Rudd had, but it was a pretty solid starting point.
And now he's gone. The people have spoken against him, and his colleagues. If just the seat of Lindsay had fallen, you could have claimed it was because of the laughable farce of those bogus Islamist brochures. If just Bennelong had fallen, you could have said it was a backlash against the man himself. If just marginals had fallen, you could blame swinging voters. But this was huge. Long-standing blue-ribbon Coalition seats turned red. Despite Michael Kroger's rather pathetic bleats of denial, this was the mother of all landslides. Over a decade of deceit (Tampa, children overboard, Haneef), arrogance and cynicism ("Those were non-core promises"), refusal to accept accountability (AWB scandal), brown-nosing (Dubya), war-mongering (Iraq), recessive industrial relations (AWAs), flip-flopping ("The GST will never be a part of our policy. Never ever."), paternalism (NT interventions) and an absurd refusal to simply offer an apology, we have at last seen the end of a morally compromised and cynical government. Best of all, their leader went as well, along with their deputy leader, and their treasurer. I agree with Allan Ramsey - if only Ruddock, Downer and Abbott would make our Christmas complete by disappearing as well.
Yes, Saturday was a good day. A very, very good day.