WHEEL OUT THE WIFE
Do you care if Tony Abbott watches Downton Abbey and gets all “sooky” in sensitive movies? Do you care if he cried when his wife had a miscarriage?
Do you care that Tim Mathieson doesn’t let Julia Gillard into his shed in the backyard or, as that they were forced to admit in a cringe-worthy interview with Charles Woolley on 60 Minutes, that they are absolutely in love with each other?
Should Americans care if the Obamas have had a great marriage for 20 years or that Mitt Romney belongs to a religion that may allow him more than one marriage at the same time?
And so we go down this road again: the political becomes personal, and we’re not sure that it should.
Tony Abbott with his typically publicity-shy wife, Margie.
Today Margie Abbott gave an interview about Private Tony, because she wanted to stand up to claims that he is sexist and has a problem with women. She gave www.news.com.au an insight into the Tony she knows and loves which is apparently at odds with the Tony being portrayed to the rest of Australia.
He calls twice a day, he empties the dishwasher, he wants to watch Downton Abbey not the footy, his three daughters love him to bits.
Will it change anyone’s mind at the ballot box?
First of all, there is the issue of wheeling out the “this is what I’m like behind closed doors” strategy.
And it’s clearly a strategy. Someone in Tony Abbott’s office thought it was a good idea for Margie Abbott, known to be a very private woman, to give an interview about the Tony she knows, the one we don’t see, to put to rest the perception that he has a problem with women and sexism.
Perhaps it is a strategy of another kind too: to take the heat off Abbott’s friendship with Alan Jones. The timing is interesting indeed.
On Channel 9 this morning, Abbott was having none of that. He and Margie had discussed this over breakfast weeks ago.
According to Yahoo! Margie Abbott said this morning:
“I just want to add a bit of balance to this and to present the fact that he is a pretty ordinary bloke, no airs and graces, who enjoys time with his family and is surrounded by strong, capable women.”
When asked if his wife’s public defence of him was a “diversionary tactic” to deflect recent criticism of him, Mr Abbott said his wife had wanted to say something on the matter for some time.
“Margie and I were sitting around the breakfast table a couple of Sundays ago and she said, `Look, this is just wrong and it’s unfair, I want to say something’.”
Mr Abbott said his wife was a private person and both of them had tried to keep their family life separate from his public life.
“Just for once she thought it was important to speak out.”
Shouldn’t Tony be able to speak for himself? (As well as Margie, as he appears to be doing here.)
Should political strategies remain strictly political?
One school of thought is that we will be better know the whole personality of that person who may run our country if we know what sort of movies they like to watch and how they conduct themselves in the privacy of their homes, in the privacy of their sheds, and the privacy of their relationships.
Or, in the case of Bill Clinton, in the privacy of an antechamber of the Oval Office.
But do we care, in the end, about what Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky and a cigar one day at work, or do we care about his political legacy?
History may be the best teacher here. JFK, anyone?
Over to you Hooplarians. This one’s a hoary old chesnut.