There is an American folky, country band called the Creekdippers. They have a great, sort of campfire sing-a-long feel to their songs. They have one called The End Of the Highway, and I have been slowly swaying around Sydney, singing it to myself. With one little, minor, lyrical change.
“That’s the end of the highway, Howard.
You’re a sorry, silly man, with a pocket full of mumbles.
Please nod off like the old Generals do.
I wonder if they’d even have you.”
Occasionally, the song doesn’t fit Howard, because of what I figure is his one saving grace – the guy wasn’t evil. He can’t be compared to Bush. Or the Stalins of history. But he was a selfish, backwards, lying prick.
John Howard has been PM my entire voting life. So when he lost the election, even by such a spectacular margin, I had no idea how to feel. As friends (older) punched the air and threw stuff at the TV, I kept thinking, what a relief. And “finally”.
And I don’t want to be forgiving, as this man bows out. I pride myself in seeing the good in most everyone, but the media and Howards team are so good at sweeping things under rugs and tweaking history.
Lets we forget:
Being elected on the promise of NO GST (the thing that killed John Hewson) and then with no apology, in his first term no less, brings it in. I don’t mind the GST so much. The flat out lie, however, was fucked. As an early adult I thought that was a nasty, fucked thing.
KYOTO. I missed the lead up to the campaign, and missed how big this issue was. And thank God! Now we’re not the only modern nation left out. What exactly was the problem here. Yes, environment is good, it would be good for the planet to survive. However, we need to make money. This isn’t sifting through your garbage and sorting out your plastics. And much, much bigger economies in the world have been behind the Kyoto treaty, and taken bigger losses on less healthy economies. Really, can someone do a Howard debrief and just go – “John. Kyoto. What the hell was going through your thick skull?”
BABIES OVERBOARD. I’m descended from boat people. My family didn’t give up their entire living and worldly possessions so they could come to Australia themselves! They did it so their baby children could have a better life, education, a warless society, fair working conditions and maybe a suntan. Would they really throw them overboard?
It brings up the Liberal party’s constant HATEMONGERING. Of immigrants, both before and after September 11. And not to mention Howard’s old nemesis, the Asians. As someone who is not a Howard Battler, it was pretty clear to see they guy never once spoke to me in any forum. He was talking to the whites, with whom I sometimes mingled. This culminated in the party’s disgraceful Fake Flyer campaign. That guy should be shot.
But when it comes to racism, how can we forget the CRONULLA RIOTS. It was the boiling point from years, if not decades, of racial tension. The Liberals, and Howard, did nothing to stop the racial tensions. Under their watch, they bred the cautious, suspicious White Australia – leading to Pauline Hanson. But the worst thing about Cronulla, was the chance we lost. I just thought, this was so disgusting, such an act of unbelievable racist hate, that it would be a turning point for us as a country. A humbling look at ourselves would follow, and we would be better for it, having seen how ugly our distrust have become.
But no, John Howard came along, and played it down. Wiped it under the rug. Not a racist act, he tells us. There is no problem. Nothing needed to be done. Lets all carry on with no effort to understand eachother. That’s not an answer, Howard. This is the scar you left on my country.
But the word that I hope someone writes on John Howard’s grave for all time is SORRY. Again, an act of such ignorance, and a blind refusal to admit a problem in the interest of solving it. How can he stand by this? How can you not say sorry to a generation of kidnapped children? It happened. It shouldn’t have happened. Howard hid behind the legal liability card. That any official admittance of “sorry” could leave the government open to legal action. This, from our great government ever, in an economic sense. You could afford it.
There have been so many times that I thought about meeting Howard. Maybe years and years in the future. Somewhere, I will see him. Like in a Scorcese movie. Out on the docks somewhere on Sydney Harbour, as the early evening sets in. I’m standing there in a trench coat, looking out at the harbour, the bridge, and the skyline. A black van pulls up behind me, slowly. The back doors open up, and a sorry figure in a wheelchair rolls up beside me, and looks at the view. The van drives away, leaving us to talk.
“Hello John.” I would say, without looking at him.
“Hello Danny.” He says, as we both continue to look out in the distance.
“You know, John, you were a terrible Prime Minister.”
“I did what I thought was right, what I thought was best, with the blessing of the majority Australian people.”
“But you’re not the majority of Australia. You’re our leader. We needed you, who sat in those meetings about finances, and environment, and more, and to make the right decisions for us. You failed us, ad you can’t fall back on I-was-voted-in, I’m-always-right.”
“The people trusted me. And I stand by my decisions.”
“I know you do, John.”
And with that, I take a pistol out of my pocket, and I shoot the little fucker in his little fucking wheelchair in the side of the head. I kick the body out of the chair and into the harbour. It makes an ugly splash, as the man pollutes Australia one more time. I walk away and don’t look back.
We will never be sorry to see you gone.
PS. The original of End Of the Highway is about Donald Rumsfield.