Kevin Rudd worked very hard to position himself as a regular guy, happy among the folks, trading jokes and bonhomie. A bit of a policy wonk as well, but not too much of that in public.
The “regular guy” image was worth a surge of primary votes but when the surge stalled the man who would be king has to face the grim reality of fighting against the tide rather than swimming with it. He has to demonstrate the ticker of a man who can win from behind, unlike the frontrunner of 2007 who was never under any threat in the final campaign.
A few more bad days and the PM could find himself struggling to be taken seriously. The copycat Northern development plan did not impress, nor did the confusion about the size of the tax reduction. He has referred issues to colleagues, stopped talking about the boats, does not dare talk about the state of the economy and suddenly stopped chasing Tony Abbott over hill and dale to debate him, “any time, any place”. How much will it take for the public perception of the PM to shift from a hyperactive and avuncular media hound into a scary clown.
Even the people who are supposed to like clowns—children—supposedly don’t. In 2008, an English survey of 250 children between the ages of four and 16 found that most of the children disliked and even feared images of clowns. A child psychologist declared, “Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don’t look funny, they just look odd.”
But most clowns aren’t trying to be odd. They’re trying to be silly and sweet, fun personified. So the question is, when did the clown, supposedly a jolly figure of innocuous, kid-friendly entertainment, become so weighed down by fear and sadness? When did clowns become so dark?
Will the PM become weighed down by fear and sadness? Will unrestrained children run away when they see him coming?