Shock and Awe

On the apparent eve of the calling of the 2010 Federal Election, I’d like to give a left field ‘shock and awe’ tactic that could work a treat for the Opposition.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was a famed Roman general who was held up as a perfect role model for Roman values. He had retired to  his small farm when the Roman Republic called him up in 458 BC to serve as dictator and to lead the Romans in defeating the Aequians and the Sabines. He agreed and immediately on defeating the tribes, resigned the dictatorship and returned to his farm. This action – to serve one’s country in its time of need but to willingly step down from power – was rightly seen as great example for future generations of Romans (including, perhaps Sulla, who also resigned the dictatorship but had acted as a tyrant in the meantime).

So here is my shock and awe strategy.

On Saturday afternoon, following Gillard’s press conference stating she has seen the Governor General and that there will be an election on 28 August, Tony Abbott appears at a press conference with Peter Costello.

He states that the party has asked Peter Costello to return to public life in the national interest. That the Government has proven to be incompetent and unethical. That it requires a steady hand at the helm by someone who will ensure that the nation’s finances are returned to the black and to unwind the excesses of the Rudd and Gillard governments. And that he, Tony Abbott, has decided to ask Peter Costello to run in the seat of X (and there will be at least a week for nominations to be submitted by candidates) and immediately be the Leader of the Opposition. And that he, Tony Abbott, would be pleased to serve in Peter Costello’s cabinet should the people of Australia think that the Coalition is worthy of election.

Peter Costello would then take the mike and explain how distressed he has been at the damage to Australia’s national interest wrought by the Rudd and Gillard Governments and that he stands ready – should the people want to elect the Coalition – to serve as Prime Minister for one full term and to work assiduously to repair the damage of the Labor Governments. And that he would cultivate a Coalition team member to offer himself/herself at the following election and that, following that election, he, Peter Costello, would return to private life, satisfied that he had worked in the nation’s interest. That he was following the example of Cincinnatus.

That is my ‘shock and awe’ strategy.

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51 Responses to Shock and Awe

  1. I don’t know if it would be in Australia’s interest for Costello to step down after 1 term. I’d personally love to see him as PM, but also think Tony Abbott has a good chance. Maybe.

  2. Ev630

    What a splendid, splendid dream.

  3. dover_beach

    I’d be shocked and awed if that strategy was successful. Although I like Costello’s managerial skills he just doesn’t impress me as having killer political instincts. What portfolio would Abbott be given and who’d be Treasurer? For me, the team to go to the election with is Abbott as Leader, Turnbull as Treasurer and Hockey as Shadow Finance Minister. That would for me be the better shock and awe strategy. Resurrecting Costello now would appear desperate.

  4. sdfc

    Costello’s got no balls. That’s the only way he was ever going to be leader, if it was handed to him on a plate.

    Having said that I agree he’s a better bet than Abbot who is a complete joke.

  5. Samuel J

    While this is purely hypothetical, it is a question of what combination of Coalition leadership team members would maximise the probability of victory – that is to exploit the problems confronting Labor.

    I don’t think bringing Howard back – which would be another Cincinnatus option would work. But I do think that a Costello-led Opposition would have a higher probability of victory than an Abbott-led Opposition. He has economic credibility still that would swamp Labor and it would not seem desperate to bring someone back in the circumstances described.

    But I think Abbott is on his way to victory.

  6. Rod

    One last desperate chance to get that “Abbott and Costello” billing.

  7. pete m

    Rod, that billing is the greatest missed opportunity in Aust politics. We’ll unlikely get another chance.

    Samuel – Costello would have been a great PM – he missed his chance.

  8. Dandy Warhol

    Sam, I don’t think you do justice to Tony Abbott.

    Just last December – yes, that recently! – we were facing a choice of either Rudd or Turnbull. Can you believe it? How bloody awful!

    Tony Abbott has gotten rid of BOTH those imposters! This is a magnificent achievement and a true public service.

    The government has now either had to admit that all of its major policies were either mistaken, and have had to be reversed or reviewed, or are impossible to implement. Abbott is responsible for this also. He has forced the government to abandon most of its first term agenda.

    He may not deserve to be PM – that is up to the electorate. But he has certainly earned himself the right to be a contender.

  9. AndrewR

    Brilliant analysis Samuel J.

    I think we are heading to an election where the Greens will pick up a massive proportion of the vote. I suspect many people do not “want” to vote for Gillard nor Abbott, and in the absence of the Democrats…

    I reject the “Costello” has no balls argument categorically. There were many precedents for orderly succession plans for long serving Governments of late: NSW Labor (Carr -> Iemma); QLD (Beattie -> Bligh); TAS (? -> ?); WA/SA?

    While Labor accused Costello of lacking guts, most of their long serving state governments were changing leaders with not one challenge involved. Shame on Howard.

    In the political market, Costello has so much value. He has credibility. He has a reputation. He has runs on the board. And I do think people would be “interested” in hearing what he has to say.

    Plus, remember the flack he copped with his National Press Conference address before the last election regarding an oncoming “financial tsunami”…

    How prophetic.

  10. Samuel J

    Dandy – I agree absolutely that Tony Abbott has earned the right. He has performed amazingly and considerably better than expectations.

  11. sdfc

    Shame on Howard. Now there was a man with some plums. Faced down to the lot of them apparently.

    Costello didn’t have the drive thats why he’s not leader now.

  12. .

    I agree that Costello should have knifed Howard once Rudd got the drop on him.

  13. .

    “Shame on Howard. Now there was a man with some plums. Faced down to the lot of them apparently.”

    A few times.


    He got on the phone and said are you happy with the result, and I said “No I’m not”, and he said “Why?” and I said “Without your front pages and total disunity I’d have had ten percent swing. I would have got myself another four and you’ve fucked it up for me and he went off his brain.


    Oh did he?


    And he went off his brain trying to (inaudible)


    He went off his brain?


    And I said…


    And HE went off his brain?


    He said to me, “I didn’t like the way you kept me out of the campaign”. I said, “Wouldn’t have you in it, and I didn’t have any federal people in it.”


    Well you didn’t have me. Didn’t have anyone.


    And I said to him, “Tomorrow, I’m going to bucket the whole lot of you”.


    No! Don’t do that Jeffrey.


    Hold your flow. I said, “Tomorrow John” and he said, “I know where your sympathies lie”, and I said, “I couldn’t give a fuck. I have no sympathies any more. You’re all a pack of shits and tomorrow I’m going berserk”. Well he went off his brain and in the end I said to him, I said, “Howard. You’re a cunt. You haven’t got my support, you never will have and I’m not going to rubbish you or the party tomorrow but I feel a lot better having told you you’re a cunt.”


    Oh shit!


    And the poor little fellow didn’t know whether he was Arthur or Martha.


    Oh shit!


    (laughing) I just thought I should let you know.


    Well, tomorrow you are humble. You do feel better. And I am getting out of that car. I’ve told you. I told Margaret, I said “Tomorrow I’m just gonna get out of that fuckin’ car and say this is not Howard’s day, it’s not my day, it’s not Carla’s day, it’s not anyone’s day, not Richie’s day. This is a day for Jeffrey Kennett”. And I was thinking that I’d go in even earlier, and even if only a third of the bastards were there I was gonna go and grab the mic and say this is unprecedented. This in the midst of the most horrific difficulties and I faced ‘em when I was the leader in by-elections, we haven’t had ‘em for some years. We had a great win yesterday, and the only person who is deserving. Not just earnt it, but deserving of support is Jeffrey Kennett and if you don’t give him everything then you’re letting down the Liberal Party.


    Well, all I can say. I thought I should let you know where I ended up with your little mate…


    Well, fuck him. I’m not worried. I just.. I almost bloody cried. I was terribly worried. I was terribly worried. My fuckin’ anger yesterday as Margaret knows. First thing I came in last night I said “Oh, fuckin’ cunt! I said the whole fuckin’ thing could upset tomorrow” I was really… And she was saying “What’s Jeffrey done?” and I was saying “It’s not what Jeffrey’s done. It’s what everyone’s fucking done to Jeffrey”.


    Well. I think we came out of it alright and certainly…


    Alright? The news reports. Have you seen them on the television?




    They’re saying “Labor down 7%”. Cain is claiming on a two party preferred vote – and don’t you let that cunt get away with that – it’s only 2%. They’re saying the Joh campaign has stopped in it’s tracks. In one part of the three state electorates it’s something like 2 to 3% down on the last vote and the Liberal Party will walk in.


    Well. We won on primaries in every lower house seat. And even in the National Party seats. So it’s a fantastic…


    Well, exactly. That’s what I interpreted from it. Mate I didn’t have the details, I was just going to talk you. And don’t you (inaudible) me. You can all go and get stuffed. This is Jeff Kennett’s day.


    Well. It’s been a good result. But anyway. Howard won’t know whether he’s Arthur or Martha.


    I know. But you feel better?


    Oh yes.


    Be humble. Everyone’s gonna say “You are the greatest leader” since sliced bread mate.


    It’s a good all-rounder.


    Where are you?


    I’m on the way home. I’m going home and having a reasonably early night and I will see you tomorrow.


    I’ve got to sit in the chair about four or five rows back from the front. And I’ll allow Howard, after he’s had his tumultuous reception to come down and sit next to me and be photographed together smiling.


    Oh, how pathetic.


    I would do that.


    How pathetic!


    Yeah but I’m doing it on the basis of when I get out, and when I talk because they’ll be chasing me because of the federal issues, I’m just gonna talk Kennett. I knew it was gonna happen, and it should have been fuckin’ better but it would have been better despite those difficulties.


    Well there’s two points. One is the federal difficulties. The other point is the way Cain tried to bloody deceive the electorate on this price control thing.


    That’s right


    And the good thing about it….


    Be humble mate.


    Oh, I know.


    They’re behind you. So you don’t have to…


    The thing is we didn’t (inaudible) like Cain and the National Party did to try and win political support. We might have lost some votes on that price control thing but we’ve kept very firmly to our philosophies. That’s an important part of this whole win I think.


    Well make those points. But just tell them, there are hundreds of thousands of people in this state who are going to support you. And you’re right. And that’s it. Just be humble.


    I will see you tomorrow.


    I look forward to it. And I am just so thrilled.


    Alright mate.


    See you then.


    Give my regards to your good lady.


    Ok. Ta. Bye.



  14. daddy dave

    Nice daydream there Samuel. However although Gillard’s going in as the favorite, I predict two things will equalise the field somewhat.
    Prediction 1: Gillard will make more campaign errors than Abbott.
    Prediction 2: Labor’s dumb policy ideas will be worse than the Coalition’s dumb policy ideas.

  15. daddy dave

    another thing working against Labor. They did not expect to be in this situation, with Gillard as leader. They are, without a doubt, flying blind. I’m betting there are a lot of late-night brainstorming sessions going on right now. It’s a risky time for them to go into an election campaign.

  16. Samuel J

    Daddy – that’s right. Labor is flying blind. Why not throw in a bombshell and catch them totally off-guard? They have been preparing to fight a campaign against Abbott. If Costello suddenly turned up, they wouldn’t know what to do.

  17. Infidel Tiger

    If we’re going to play “dream team” I’d prefer John Eales back at second row for the Wallabies.

  18. Matt C

    Wasn’t John Elliot the Liberal party’s Cincinnatus?

  19. C.L.

    Mmm, one for the classicists.

    Costello’s Cincinnatus versus Gillard’s Incitatus.

  20. Ev630

    But is Tim Mathieson the Delilah to Gillard’s Samson?

  21. Dandy Warhol

    With Harris, Jordan and Charlton as the ineffective German bodyguards?

    Gillard would have to be Cassius Chaerea, surely?

    Swanny’s more suited to the role of Incitatus I think.

    V. good CL!

  22. daddy dave

    Gillard would have to be Cassius Chaerea, surely?

    Cassius Chaerea meets Cassius Clay?

  23. Ev630

    So Dandy, shouldn’t that be Dumbus Incitatus?

  24. Infidel Tiger

    Rutilus Caput Capitis Invado

  25. Rococo Liberal

    Labor delenda est

  26. Dandy Warhol

    daddy dave that wins the prize.

    To paraphrase the great man:

    ‘You were surprised when Kevin resigned? Wait until ah kick Gillard’s behind.’

    With an honourable mention in dispatches for IT.

    Ev630, I suspect ‘Dumbus Maximus’ is more appropriate.

  27. C.L.

    More importantly, folks…

    Are you not ENTERTAINED!

  28. THR

    Given the likelihood of an ALP victory at this point, the Coalition could always save Costello for the inevitable post-election implosion. Either that, or Turnbull will square off for the leadership against Kevin Andrews.

  29. C.L.

    The most amazing thing is the ‘ifs.’

    Labor supporters think it will be one for the record books if they win a second term – traditionally, hard NOT to do. That’s how bad this government has been – arguably, the worst ever – and how stunning has been Abbott’s success.

  30. Ev630

    Yes THR. All indications suggest a Labor landslide.

  31. THR

    CL, the pattern is that most first-term government lose seats, and win a second term by scraping through. This is exactly what happened to Howard, for instance, and polling at this point suggests a loss of seats to the ALP, but a win all the same. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a landslide or not, since another 3 years in the wilderness will send the Coalition into meltdown once again. Instead of analogies from the classics, Coalition supporters can illustrate the situation by comparing a dusted-off Phillip Ruddock to Rocky VII.

  32. Infidel Tiger

    Howard lost seats because he went to an election with a GST. What daring piece of legislation is Gillard bringing forth? Fibro lunch sheds? Long drop toilets? A free roof fire for every home?

  33. Ev630

    “It doesn’t really matter if it’s a landslide or not, since another 3 years in the wilderness will send the Coalition into meltdown once again.”

    Equally, another three years of Labor ineptitude will drive them out of office and into the wilderness for a decade.

    Which leaves Bob Brown to run things.

  34. C.L.

    What daring piece of legislation is Gillard bringing forth?

    By 2090, no Australian child will be living un-uniformed.

  35. tal

    CL un- uniformed children are a moral crisis, I’m going back to the bunker until this latest drama has blown over

  36. Paul Williams

    So is the previous emergency over, then?

  37. Paul makes a good point. I dont remember anyone announcing that the “national emergency” that required the ALP to delve into treasury for advertising funds was over.

    Should I empty the sandbags and unload the rifle yet? I’m starting to run out of tinned food.

  38. dover_beach

    I’ve run out of tinned food and am now eating the neighbours.

  39. “or Turnbull will square off for the leadership against Kevin Andrews”

    Kevin Andrews?!? *shudders*

  40. JC


    It’s about time you rusted on labor supporters started to look at your side of the fucking fence.

    Kevin Andrews hasn’t killed 7 odd people like Lurch has and he never went out of his way to burn down 200 odd houses and counting.

    Kevin Andrews ain’t my cup of tea, but labor people have no shame and have no right to be shuddering at the like of Andrews when you’ve got morons like Lurch and Maxine McKew on your side of the fence. This shit just doesn’t work any more.

  41. “you rusted on labor supporters”

    I can’t even remember the last time I voted Labor. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.

  42. JC


    You whine about Kevin Freaking Andrews, yet you’re silent about Labor meatheads.

    Are you freaking serious?

    look at them all. Einstein couldn’t count that far.







    and the list goes on..

    These are heavy duty morons.

  43. Ev630

    Well then Jarrah, why send mixed signals? You can’t blame a chap for assuming you’re a left footer when you constantly bash the opposition despite the fact that the current front bench comes from the shallow end of the gene pool.

    Or do you vote… ack… gag… urlgh… Green?

  44. JC

    Honest question:

    You think Andrews is as bad as Controy?

  45. “yet you’re silent about Labor meatheads. ”

    Obviously you don’t visit my blog often enough 🙂

    “You can’t blame a chap for assuming you’re a left footer when you constantly bash the opposition”

    I’m generally an oppositional commenter. So here I bad-mouth the Coalition, at LP I defend economic reality, at ToF I defend science, at Anon Lefty I slam the Greens, at Quiggin I spruik nuclear and do my bit to correct leftist mythology.

    What can I say, I’m a knight in shining armour, sallying forth to slay the dragons of illogic and unreason… *rides off into sunset*


  46. Moderated? No links, so was it too many smileys?

    In the meantime:
    “You think Andrews is as bad as Controy?”

    Yes. Conroy hasn’t had as many opportunities to make me mad as Andrews, but he’s got plenty of potential.

  47. entropy

    I don’t think it is the number of opportunities that matter so much as the scale: the internet filter, NBN and other assorted mistakes that have resulted in a new expression (to be “conroyed”).

  48. rog

    Costello is dragged out of a cupboard and reinflated in a desperate attempt to ensure coalition victory – shocking and awful

  49. Jc..

    Oh hi wodge

    How’s geoffrey

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