Julia Gillard’s speech to joint sitting of the US House of Representatives and the Senate earlier today was mostly excellent. Assuming she means all she said, our PM would appear to have a clear picture of the United States and its place in the world. Moreover, she added, that America is indispensable to maintaining world order now and into the future. On this note, I could not agree more.
Nonetheless, two thoughts came to mind after reading the transcript.
Firstly, how would the same speech have gone down, if it were Tony Abbott PM not Julia addressing the Congress, one could imagine the outcry from the left accusing Tony of selling out to “imperialist” power thirsty America, the land of multinationals that scavenge the planet, of assuming a deputy sheriff role in Asia Pacific, and accusations relating to Australia, as America’s puppet. I remain certain that Julia will draw criticism but she remains from the left, albeit a fluid and fragmented evolving self, just getting to know her place in the world. Still, the left does not attack its own as harshly.
My second thought relates to the Governments chief allies in power, the Greens. Has anyone asked Christine Milne or Bob Brown for an opinion of The PM’s address today? Let us hope someone in the press gallery does, I would be interested in the response.
I cannot help but recall how many within the Labor party including Julia Gillard vilified John Howard and George W Bush's America when they responded to 9/11. Fast forward to 2011, and we note Julia heaping praise on Howard and showing steadfast support for the war on terror. In the context, she is a hypocrite.
Michelle Gratton echoes my thoughts about Gillards performance:
... her congressional performance a revival of her political flair that will be admired by her Labor colleagues, or will it reinforce doubts about her policy substance and even her political identity?
The images back home out of her appearance in the US House of Representatives chamber were compelling. But they add to confusion about the ''real Julia''. How could someone who once came from the left of Labor be seen to outdo Menzies, Hawke and Howard in her rhetorical genuflecting to the US?
Now really think about it, Julia Gillard suddenly sounding like a Capitol Hill hawk? A a few short years ago she was a peacenik dove. Who are you Julia? That’s what the press gallery ought be damanding. Just maybe the PM wants to be a hawkish dove? Thus, Julia Gillard is more akin to something of a dove hybrid.
Finally, for those interested in John Howard's 2002 address to a joint meeting of the United States Congress click here.