The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1999

After a two week hiatus, I'm finally back on board with my blow-by-blow, catclaw-by-catclaw account of the best bits of The Latham Diaries, which I notice is already being discounted by some retailers. Yesterday's epic is tomorrow nestling against the Complete Works of Max Walker. Sigh.

Friday, 29 January

In New York I met with Clinton's campaign adviser, Dick Morris, who has an amazing instinct and feel for politics. I explained my sutation is Australia and he got it straight away. He reckons that 'This period of ostracisation is essential to your success'. We also talked about the Third Way and the triangulation of policy. He sees it as a spin-off from Hegel's dialectic interpretation of history - out of two conflicting positions a synthesis emerges. - Page 96/97

...and this was Morris' recall of this same conversation, on the ABC in 2003:

JOHN SHOVELAN: Dick Morris first met the Opposition leader when Mark Latham sought him out on a visit to the US four or five years ago.

DICK MORRIS: I think he wanted to learn as much as he could about President Clinton's third way in triangulation and how that worked in the United States. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of history and of politics. He's brilliant and I really feel that he just has a wonderfully penetrating, inventive mind and I was thrilled that he now is going to be the leader of the Australian Labor Party. It really marks a decision by them that they'd rather not lose the next election too.

I'm a Morris fan, but I think on this occasion he was blinded by the Latham charm into seeing a visionary when instead all he had was a charlatan.

But back to the diaries, here's a pearler from Paul:

Tuesday, 30 March

Keating calls, very greatful for the intervention. He gives me some of the history of his run-ins with Kerry Packer. Before the 1993 election, Graham Richardson (now working for Packer) said to Keating, 'At least we still have Packer on side'. But Paul reckons, 'That was bullshit. Anyway, what was he going to do, get Laurie Oakes to fart twice instead of once on TV every night?' Classic stuff. - Page 101

If you say so, Mark. And here's another one from Keating:

Friday, 16 April

A corker of a day - a briefing and then lunch with Keating at his Sydney office. The man is a comic genius. Best to record his observations in his own words.

On the restoration of the heritage building in which his office is located: 'The National Trust sent around an adviser, a bloke in a turban, telling me what to do. I said to him, "Listen, mate, I first visited this building when I was seventeen years of age. You would ahve been selling pappadams in Bombay back then"'.
- Page 103

Surely Keating's comment is on a par with John Brogden's mail-order-bride comment about Helena Carr, yet no one has raised a storm over JPK's comments. Double standards? Or have we just conceded that Keating is a tired and cranky old man of whom we stopped expecting high standards long ago.

And now Ari uses a new word on his blog:

Thursday, 2 September

But they are not all bad. Give me (Senator) Rosemary Crowley any day of the week. Years ago, Joel's dad and predecessor in Hunter, Eric Fitzgibbon, told me the story of Rose visiting a colleague's electorate and getting into a discussion with some of the locals about their cars. She floored them by pointing out, 'Listen, you blokes, I have had more rubber up my cunt than you've got on those tyres'. Rose for PM. - Page 113

Time to get out of the gutter...

Tuesday 28 December

Parliamentary poltiics is not longer a viable instrument of social reform. The big issues are social - the breakdown in trust and compassion between people. But the state has no compass or toolkit with which to handle these issues. It relies on the exercise of centralised, hierarchical power; law-making and bureaucratic control over people. It is institutionally incapable of dealing with the big social policy questions: mutualism, devolution and civil society. - Page 124


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