Abbott pleads: Please sir, I'll be better. Promise.Every smarty pants schoolboy learns eventually that there comes a
reckoning, expulsion threatened, when there is nothing left for it but a
grovelling and a desperate pleading.
"I'll be better. Promise I will," is the time-worn entreaty.
so it was as Tony Abbott faced the music beneath a clouded sky in the
prime ministerial quadrangle soon after being let off with a final
Illustration: Ron Tandberg. Photo: rtanberg
"I have listened, I have learned, and I have changed….I accept
that every day I'm being tested. That's the way it is. I am determined
to do better in these tests in the next few months than I have in the
last couple of months," he sweated. No smirk today. No rocking on the
balls of the feet. No swagger.
Abbott, of course, is the Australian Prime Minister: national
headmaster, as it were, and, it turns out, self-confessed recalcitrant
head boy rolled into one.
It was an awkward juxtaposition; as awkward as his confession and his pleading.
He had, of course, avoided expulsion, but knew he was on probation.
problem was that he'd promised to be good before. He'd discovered
barnacles that needed scraping only late last year, vowed that he'd
start the year fresh and clean and new. He'd sworn again and again to be
more consultative and collegiate, only to prance off on his own strange
frolics. Sir Prince Philip, for pity's sake, as grown-up as a wedgie in
the locker room.
A third of his own classmates couldn't stand it
any more. Even without a clear replacement, they wanted to give him the
boot. He was saved only because the prefects felt they had no choice but
to show what passed as solidarity and weren't swept away by the thought
of supporting a lad they'd rejected before.
And there Abbott was,
forced out into the open, looking less a prime minister than a
caught-out adolescent, abashed and calling it chastened. The class clown
magically reformed, confessing and promising to be better. Everyone
would be better, including his dorm mistress, Peta Credlin.
all of us have had to have a good, long hard look at ourselves over the
last few weeks...and all of us are resolved to be different and better
in the future than we have been in the past and that's true at every
level. Me, my cabinet colleagues, my ministerial colleagues, my senior
staff, we are all resolved to be and do better," Abbott babbled.
didn't explain what he and his schoolyard gang had been up to for the
past 17 months. The final report remains to be written.