Thursday, 6 September 2007

APEC on the cheek

I read yesterday that two thirds of blog entries posted on the Internet begin along the lines of "sorry for the lack of posts recently". I'm not sure who calculated this or how, or even if it is true, but rather than add to the pile I shall make like John Howard and issue no apologies.

Speaking of the Great Satan, he has been in the news a lot the last few days as Australia is hosting the APEC conference. Half of Sydney has been shut down behind a huge metal wall and security forces patrol the streets below thundering military aircraft. Howard has been widely criticised for imposing this over-zealous Diet Coke version of martial law, but think of it another way, perhaps he was just trying to make the other Asia-Pacific leaders feel at home.

Of course Johnny's friend George was in town too, and looking quite jolly after some recent press conferences where his "serious" face went into overdrive. It seems a little incongruous to be so upbeat when the 'surge strategy' is looking increasingly ineffective and it appears that his successor, whether Republican or Democrat is not going to continue his Iraq mission. Perhaps he has realised that with only a year to go his reputation is fucked, so he may as well enjoy the ride while he can. Certainly his response to a question about the situation in Iraq ("We're kicking ass!") smacked of someone sticking a defiant finger up at the liberals, a dead man going to the gallows with a smile on his face.

No-one seems to have explained any of this to poor old Johnny though. He has taken every opportunity to pose with George and Condi, gleaming his rodent toothed smile as though every camera flash were another swinging voter coming over to him. It's certainly a vote winning strategy, but unfortunately for the Prime Minister it's a vote winning strategy from 2004. The whole thing feels a bit like someone bringing a mangy stripper to breakfast after a drunken lads' night out, "that was last night Johnny, we're past that now and slightly ashamed."

While Johnny makes his moves on yesterday's babe, Kevin has been cosying up to the sexiest new human rights abuser in town. His speech to the Chinese delegates proved that it is possible to speak Mandarin with your tongue up someone's arsehole. Still, while a communist behemoth keeps the Australian economy afloat it doesn't do to upset them (even left-wing students seems to recognise this, being strangely uncritical of a genuine dictator while working themselves into a pant wetting fury over Bush).

Reading a transcript of the speech though, it seems Mr Rudd's Mandarin vocabulary may not be as extensive as we have been led to believe. "You have many, many friends here in Australia" he told them "many, many friends, many, many real friends" , before adding "I went to work in Beijing in the 1980s. My wife and I have a particular love for Beijing — we love the feeling of Beijing, we love the people of Beijing." It sounds like Kevin knows a few phrases, a few key phrases, a few very key phrases.

Of course the ABC's Chaser have been on the scene, dressed as (who else?) Osama and highlighting the spectacular incompetency behind the stern facade of security. Predictably condemnation has ensued with APEC's chief security policeman saying "I enjoy a big laugh, but this isn't funny." Well it's never very funny when the whole world realises that you haven't done your job properly is it? Particularly when you've spent $150 million doing it. But I doubt whether someone who describes themselves as enjoying "a big laugh" has much of a sense of humour anyway. It implies a face permanently twisted in a hate filled grimace but occasionally allowing a chortle to escape, perhaps during Last of the Summer Wine or a prisoner beating.

The people involved in the Chaser stunt have apparently been arrested, so with the conference ending soon it seems that a few comedians will sit in jail, while a ramshackle bunch of war-mongers and despots are flown back home in luxury. Wither satire?

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