On Thursday, as Ruddgate flooded the news bulletins and pages, The Australian Financial Review's highly respected Laura Tingle has dubbed Rudd 'the People's Prince', pointing to his political dexterity in dismissing lightweight arguments that he is a big stick-in-the-mud and should suck it up and shut up.
"The Gillard forces have tried to use the former foreign minister's absence to change presumptions and perceptions about the leadership race," she wrote.
"Journalists who were declaring the end was in sight for the prime minister on Friday night were reporting yesterday she was fully in control of the numbers and would sack the foreign minister, or call a spill, next week. The Gillard camp portrayed Rudd as a wrecker loathed by his colleagues, who has mistimed his run, and lost momentum. But they have nothing on Kevin Rudd, or his media cutzpah when it comes to changing the story line."
Indeed. Monday's Financial Review headline read "Rudd Makes Pitch to Business" with revelations that Rudd has been beavering away rebuilding bridges with business leaders to ensure his safe return to the prime ministership. "Mr Rudd left Australia yesterday morning for a five-nation, one-week trip which puts him out of the immediate leadership storm and gives Ms Gillard and her supporters a week to try to dash perceptions that her fate is sealed," reported Tingle and John Kerin.
Jump to Wednesday and we find she didn't have as much time as anticipated up her sleeve. Kevin "the Milky Bar kid" Rudd jumped the gun with his People Power pitch (scratching an alliterative itch). There is talk of a second ballot to determine who is the ultimate ruler of Labor on Monday morning, with one third of caucus reportedly in the Rudd camp. "Will Kevin Rudd prove to be a Paul Keating or Andrew Peacock?" asks Tingle.
History, politics, a parliamentary playground stoush... gosh this is getting interesting. But the instability is disconcerting. And so too is our preoccupation. Nothing like a clash of the egos to lose sight of the important stuff: good-bye Gonski Report, you had your five minutes. With Gonski safely on the agenda, education being Gillard's passion, a Rudd challenge was always in the pipeline.
"Tackle Rudd now, Gillard urged," The Australian's Monday headline read. "Accusing Mr Rudd of gross disloyalty and his supporters of lying about his level of support, a senior Right faction leader told The Australian last night: "This has to stop. She has to take him on."
But she left it a moment too late, giving him an advantage point. This is not love all. It's all out war. (Oh, let go of your annoying tennis metaphor!). Following Rudd's resignation from the Foreign Minister post broadcast from Washington last night, the story continues to unfold between the sheets of newsprint, the airwaves and online as Anna Bligh sits silently on the sidelines thinking, "But this is my time!".
Bligh's humility and patience thus far in the leadership crises' wake could just prove the extra impetus Queensland voters need to get her over the line against Campbell 'Can-Do' Newman; a reminder of her cool and calm post-floods demeanour. A blessing in disguise? Or another chapter in Labor's embarrassing demise? Either way, it's good news all round for those in the media enterprise. And Rudd Rage, which made Monday's front pages, has has officially been upstaged. Ta da!
Girl With a Satchel
P.S. Yes, GWAS cheated... but deception is only a matter of perception, so to it with the confession: this 'Satchel Review' was originally part of The Media Satchel roundup. Now it is not. While other news most certainly happened this week, it's Ruddgate that had us all captivated (mission accomplished!). Back to other pressing matters, such as The Gold Coast Bulletin's "Bats Crazy" story, soon.