Tony Abbott must be either breathtakingly stupid, or deeply dishonest. To illustrate this point, I offer two examples.
First, let's look at his claim that when he spoke of the government “dying of shame” barely a week after the Alan Jones imbruglio, he was not referencing Jones’ deeply offensive comments, but rather using a phrase he has used “seventeen times in the past.”
Perhaps he has. Even so, should we not realistically expect that someone aspiring to the highest office in the land might internally process the ramifications of using such a highly-charged term? That's what his frontal lobe is for. So, either he was too stupid to make that connection in advance, or he knew what he was doing and is now lying about it being inadvertent, a mere slip-up. (It is tempting to offer a third possibility: that he fully meant it, and he intended it to hurt the Prime Minister – to inflict actual emotional pain upon her. But I can’t bring myself to countenance the hideous possibility that someone so cruel could be our next PM, so I’ll try to assume that it’s one of the first two.)
My second example is from yesterday (10 October, 2012) when Mr Abbott produced a power bill sent to him by a disgruntled Perth retiree. Her power bill had doubled! Doubled, I say! He related how she’d almost “had a heart attack” when she saw that her bill had increased from $736 to $1,563. “See, I told you so!” he effectively gloated. “It’s the carbon tax! I told you it would have a crippling impact, and look now! Look now!”
When he tabled the document at Labor's urging, the reason for the woman’s power bill doubling soon became apparent. It was because her power usage had doubled.
So, once again, which is it? Is Mr Abbott too stupid to notice such a non-trivial error in his reasoning, or has he been caught passing off a deliberately misleading data interpretation?
I suspect it’s the latter – after all, Mr Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar, and they don’t make a habit of handing those out to half-wits. Which would mean that it’s the other option – that he’s happy to say whatever he thinks is politically expedient, and then play the “woops” card when he’s busted.
There’s an additional component to this that should be mentioned. If Tony Abbott’s not stupid – meaning we must therefore assume that he’s being dishonest – we need to draw a clear line to a more troubling conclusion: he thinks that more than fifty percent of Australian voters are breathtakingly stupid. And since we’re talking about someone who wants to lead all Australians after the next election, it's a point that needs to be made, and made often.