Panda Cons are reacting badly to mockery of Australian hysteria in the US
IT’S always interesting when fresh talking points and excuses roll into currency at the same time. Never more so than now as Australian ‘conservatives’ strive to save face after months of lockdown fraternising and vacc ’em all nagging. Last week, for example, capricious society destroyer Gladys Berejiklian camouflaged her retreat from a failed assault on Delta as a timely triumph of will and science. By mid-week, Sky, Peta Credlin and The Australian were hailing the change as the most splendid fallback since General Monro’s famous exertions in 1916. Gladys was the Gold Standard again, the measured antipode to Chairman Dan.
This week, there’s new craic doing the rounds: of course Australian politicians behaved like frenzied caudillos; certainly they obliterated the rule of law, parliamentary democracy and the economy; yes, they made public offices and the police toxic for a generation. But forget all that. Let’s compare ourselves to the US, exhorts Quillette’s Claire Lehmann. “Adjusting for population size, if Australia had failed its own people on a scale equivalent to that of America we would have lost 50,000 countrymen, a body count inconceivable to most of us.” The excellent Gray Connolly makes the same case.
In epidemiology, however, this sort of pro rata flimflam just won’t do. Unlike Australia, America is not an island continent with an oceanic moat; it doesn’t have nine governments but more than 50. Precisely because the United States isn’t largely unpopulated – New York City alone has more people than New South Wales – the matrices of infection cannot be easily mapped or so lazily contrasted. There is no point trying to score cheap coronavirus points by comparing ourselves to other nations because – excepting New Zealand – no serviceable comparisons exist.
The reality is Australian political leaders had the most undemanding pandemic theatre on earth. The fibro facade Panda Cons are punching through is the one jerry-built at the start of the War on Terrorism 20 years ago. Behind it is John Howard – sitting on a Chesterfield, sneering at America and daydreaming about the Cinque Ports. It’s respectable again for the old man’s heirs to despise vulgar freedom. They know Australians are too sensible for it.