Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 23:58 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 23:58 | SYDNEY

Rudd: Killing English softly


Sam Roggeveen


1 June 2009 15:43

The above image (courtesy of the International Institute for Strategic Studies) was taken at last weekend's Shangri-La Dialogue, and shows IISS Director-General John Chipman presiding over a Q&A session with Prime Minister Rudd. If you think Chipman's expression is a little vacant, then perhaps you should read the transcript of the Q&A so that, rather than condemn the man, you may marvel at his fortitude. Here's some of what he had to sit through:

The only other point I would make by way of furtherance of this discussion, is again an initiative that emerge during the Bush administration, and which has continued, and many of you in this room are familiar with it, in terms of the bilateral, strategic and economic dialogues between Washington and Beijing, which have been continued and, at least against one argument, elevated. This has been important, as it brings together key economic decision-makers, foreign policy decision-makers, and strategic policy decision-makers in both countries. This is to be encouraged, and to be developed further, and certainly in my discussions with counterparts, not just in the White House, but also in the administration in Washington, there is a strong desire for that to continue. In summary, active engagement in a new forum wrestling with a common crisis that unites us all, which is how to jump-start the global economy back into life and to fix the rules up for the future, China and the US are actively and constructively engaged on this, and it is good to see and be part of. Secondly, on the bilateral, what is occurring with the strategic and economic dialogue is a very good thing both for those two countries and the rest of us combined. 

It's been said that Rudd's natural style is to speak more like a policy wonk than a politician, but in either guise, this passage would be considered poor expression. In fact, it is hard to believe that the Prime Minister is making a sincere effort to state his meaning clearly here.

As to his real motive, well, perhaps there isn't one. Perhaps the verbal habits he's developed — dead metaphors, foreign policy jargon, empty and meaningless words — are now so ingrained as to operate without any real purpose.