Yes, I watched it…

18 Nov

tue18 I refer of course to The Howard Years. I thought it a good job, though it was rather scary seeing what I for one regard as having happened just a few minutes ago receding into History. Oh yes, I remember Pauline 1996! I was teaching at Sydney Girls High at the time and my English and History classes were all a-twitter about her. In general she was not going down well in that context… I myself wrote to every politician under the sun about her, and even received a bland reply from JH himself, adopting the stance we saw last night. Interesting to see that was just about the only occasion he gave the ever faithful Alexander Downer an earful… Pauline put me in hospital too as I scored a hernia going out of my way to be nice to every Asian I met, including helping one Korean carry some heavy luggage up the stairs here in Elizabeth Street (right), causing the hernia and hospital. 😉

But did you read Gerard Henderson this morning? He clearly got out the wrong side of bed. What does he want: hagiography? He’s wrong too about the Menzies doco. Sure it speculated about Menzies’s ambition in the UK, but not crudely. If anything it went a long way towards rehabilitating Menzies as wartime PM in my eyes. I didn’t see the Chifley one.

If you can be bothered with Gerard at his most tendentious, see The left writes Liberals’ history. I certainly didn’t see last night’s program in that light. I can’t imagine Howard being too displeased with it. Rang true with my memory. Gerard, Howard was such a dominant figure that just about the only “objective”  thing that can be said about him was that he was Prime Minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007 and he isn’t Prime Minister any more. The fact I smiled when I wrote the last bit is of course not objective – but then neither is Gerard’s rather pathetic piece today – and I use pathetic in the proper sense there: “Deserving or inciting pity”. Last week, on the other hand, as I noted, Gerard wrote a rather splendid piece on World War I. I keep reading him because he does from time to time write something really good…


Posted by on November 18, 2008 in Australia, History, John Howard, TV


4 responses to “Yes, I watched it…

  1. Jim Belshaw

    November 18, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I was wondering about your reaction on this one, Neil. I have not read Gerard’s comments yet, but I can imagine. I thought that it was very good and informative TV.

    Some measure of bias is inescapable in these things – they are after all current events. The touchstone I am using from a personal perspective are the insights I gleaned given my own biases.

  2. Neil

    November 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Not all that current any more, Jim! And to think I actually remember Chifley — the PM, not the recent ABC program! Though I was 5 or 6 years old… But then Thomas (for example) would perhaps barely remember Hawke as PM…

    Ah, we grow old!

    Piers Akerman gets all jowly on it today too: Portrait of partisan ABC, though his suggested comparison with Rudd’s first year may appeal to some and is worth considering. Of course last night dealt with rather more than Howard’s first year…

    The first episode of The Howard Years is more theatre than history with its portentous music score and dramatic editing.

    Yet for all its irritating attitudes, it is entertaining viewing.

    Two things stand out about the main character, the strength of his personal character and that he was thoroughly intellectually prepared for the job when he won office. Points which make a comparison with the current PM almost unfair.

    Unfair is probably the right word, given the way Piers has framed that to the benefit of one side…

  3. Victor

    November 19, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Peter Reith came across as a bit of a goose.

  4. Bruce

    November 20, 2008 at 3:35 am

    I can remember the Menzies (Institute? i.e. think-tank-whatever) peddling its own version of history, where Menzies got the name “Pig Iron” from unionists because of his tenacity, and how he saved xmas for the families of Pt Kembla workers by breaking a strike back before WWII. No mention was made of the trading pig iron with Japan at the time, which unionists objected to on the grounds of Japan’s imperialism (and because of Japan’s infamous right-wing friends).

    Maybe that’s what Gerard would consider fair.

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