Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 10:12 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 10:12 | SYDNEY

John Howard goes to Washington


Michael Fullilove


7 March 2008 09:09

The Australian is splashing John Howard’s guest appearance at a ‘glittering’ dinner for the American Enterprise Institute here in Washington last night, at which he delivered the Irving Kristol Lecture and received AEI’s award for outstanding achievement. (I wonder what they would have given him had he won last year’s federal election?) The Oz reports that the 1250 guests (including Dick Cheney’s wife Lyn and neocon Paul Wolfowitz) gave Mr Howard a standing ovation when he was introduced as a ‘great friend of freedom’.

I’d like to tell you what the American press made of the affair but I cannot, as they did not cover it. This is not John Howard’s fault, of course: it’s very hard for foreign heads of government (let alone formers) to get their head above the news parapet in DC. Even when foreign leaders address the Congress, the authorities are often left to hunt around for interns and others to fill the empty seats.

There are one or two traces of the event online, however, including some introductory remarks by the president of AEI, replete with the usual dusty nonsense about the Anglosphere. In his own remarks, the guest of honour dipped his lid to those nostrums and personalities favoured by those present on the night. The transcript reads pretty well, though it does contain one or two strange lines, like this one: ‘If the butter of national values is spread too thinly it will disappear altogether.’

The butter of national values? Surely as a visitor he could have given the Americans the cliché they really wanted: the Vegemite of national values.