Video: Welcome to the party (politics), pal

posted at 3:31 pm on April 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Via our Headlines, this clip from an Australian news show provides a sort of Rorschach test for political junkies.  Last week, Speaker of Australia’s Parliament Peter Slipper temporarily resigned his position while he defends himself against same-gender sexual harassment allegations from his former advisor, who is suing Slipper and the government.  Slipper denies the charges but had been under pressure to resign, which prompted Prime Minister Julia Gillard to make a statement on the case while visiting Turkey.  When an interviewer asked fellow Labor Party MP Bill Shorten what he thought of Gillard’s statement, Shorten offered this bizarre response:

Q: … Do you think he should return to the Speaker’s chair while the civil claims are still being played out?

A: I understand that the Prime Minister has addressed this in a press conference in Turkey in the last few hours.  I haven’t seen what she said, but let me say I support what it is that she said.

Q: Hang on.  You haven’t seen what she said …

A: But I support what my Prime Minister said, so …

Q: Well, what’s your view?

A: My view is what the Prime Minister’s view is.

Q: Surely you must have your own view on this, Bill Shorten.

A: No.  When you ask whether I’ve got my own view on this, that’s such a general question and it invites me to go into lots of places –

Q: Well, specific question is whether Peter Slipper should return as Speaker of your Parliament while he’s facing civil claims of sexual harassment.

A: Sexual harassment is an incredibly serious matter.  Ah, there should be no tolerance for sexual harassment.  That’s my view. On the other hand, these matters have yet to be established, and I support what my Prime Minister has said.

Q: But you don’t know what that is.

A: No, I’m sure she’s right.

And, er … don’t call him Shirley.  For the record, Gillard yesterday demanded that Slipper extend his hiatus from the office, as reported by the Herald Sun earlier today.  That’s a change from the more defiant tone Gillard took in Turkey a few days earlier, in which she vowed to stand by the embattled Speaker and dared the opposition to remove him.  Ironically for MP Shorten, not even Julia Gillard was sure Julia Gillard was right at that press conference in Turkey, and at least she knew what was said.

That brings us to the Rorschach test.  Is this an example of party hackery in politics, or an unfair media ambush?  I expected to see a lot of comments laughing at Shorten’s faceplant on TV, but a couple of commenters blamed the media host for putting Shorten in an impossible position, as party politics in parliamentary systems forces unity on its members.  Otherwise, governments can fall, forcing elections and potentially a loss of status for people like Shorten, who serves in Gillard’s government as the head of two ministries.

However, the charges have been made public, and the question of efficacy in the role during the litigation — as well as the political damage the charges will do to Gillard’s government — are hardly out of bounds.  All Shorten had to say was that the charges were serious, but he had no position on whether Slipper should step down.  Instead, Shorten turned himself into a lasting example of party hackery, and an easy point of comparison for those who reflexively defend their party or favorite politician regardless of circumstance.  Don’t be surprised to see Shorten Awards in the future.


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I’d vote for him! Refreshing honesty and loyalty. Of course I’d like to know what his bosses positions are first though!

LeftCoastRight on April 29, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Rats! I thought this was news about Sketchy since he seems to have fallen off the map this week.

DannoJyd on April 29, 2012 at 3:35 PM

His AI is broken.

StubbleSpark on April 29, 2012 at 3:36 PM

See, politicians all over the world are just as shallow, chickensh*t, ridiculous and useless as ours. I feel sooooo much better now!

Tim Zank on April 29, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I’m going to repost what I wrote in the headlines thread:

I think you’d find that this degree of party loyalty is very high in parliamentary systems, its just the nature of how the process works. Each representative isn’t asked to do what he thinks is best (not a trustee) nor what his constituents think is best (not a delegate), but rather to tow the party line 100% (the Responsible Parties model of representation). While in the USA we have elements of all three of these models, the Responsible parties model is much much more prevalent in parliamentary systems.

Agreeing with the PM before you know what the PM said is just an unfortunate consequence of this model.

Lets look at it this way: Lets say you, the Hotair commenter, were asked the following question:

Do you agree with what (Insert popular conservative politician here) said in response to President Obama on Thursday?

Given no context, I’m sure we’d find a majority of Hotair commenters saying yes, I do agree. Not because I know what he/she said, but because I trust that person and agree with virtually everything he/she has said politically thus far. Why would this time be any different?

That is a perfectly logical method of reasoned support, but I’m not sure I’d say you would make a good member of congress because of it!

vegconservative on April 28, 2012 at 11:33 PM

vegconservative on April 29, 2012 at 3:37 PM

What the hell was that?

Black Adam on April 29, 2012 at 3:38 PM

This guy could give DWS a run for her money.

multiuseless on April 29, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I didn’t hear what Nancy Pelosi said in her press conference but I completely disagree with everything she said.

Smedley on April 29, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Rats! I thought this was news about Sketchy since he seems to have fallen off the map this week.

DannoJyd on April 29, 2012 at 3:35 PM

..you really ought to take a rest, old son. You’re working too hard.

The War Planner on April 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

This guy could give DWS a run for her money.

multiuseless on April 29, 2012 at 3:39 PM

…he would be a more attractive woman than DWS.

KOOLAID2 on April 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I object in the strongest possible terms to the comment following mine.

Nethicus on April 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM

lol i did watch this in the headlines..had to watch it again here..too funny..he is the one who brought up the press conference and didn’t even know what the prim minister said..haha

sadsushi on April 29, 2012 at 3:45 PM

I object in the strongest possible terms to the comment following mine.

Nethicus on April 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Perhaps, “You might very will think that, but I could not possibly comment.”

..or, “I refer the right honourable gentleman to the remarks I made some moments ago.”

The War Planner on April 29, 2012 at 3:46 PM


Can you hear what I’m saying
Can you see the parts that I’m playing
“Holy Man, Rocker Man, Come on Queenie,
Joker Man, Spider Man, Blue Eyed Meanie”
So you found your solution
What will be your last contribution?
“Live it up, rip it up, why so lazy?
Give it out, dish it out, let’s go crazy,
Yeah!”

J_Crater on April 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

I support and agree to the comment made three comments ago.

BigGator5 on April 29, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Is he pleading the Fifth Amendment? Was Australia represented at that GSA blowout?

onlineanalyst on April 29, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Shorten sweet: “I agree with whatever you thought that you heard the Prime Minister say.”

onlineanalyst on April 29, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Joking aside, this was the greatest faceplant ever recorded on TV.

BigGator5 on April 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM

He’s also the Governor-General’s son-in-law, and being touted by some on the Left as potential Prime Minister material. Popcorn, please!

s_dog on April 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM

those who reflexively defend their party or favorite politician regardless of circumstance. Don’t be surprised to see Shorten Awards in the future.

Debbie Wasserman-Shorten?

massrighty on April 29, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Lets look at it this way: Lets say you, the Hotair commenter, were asked the following question:

Do you agree with what (Insert popular conservative politician here) said in response to President Obama on Thursday?

Given no context, I’m sure we’d find a majority of Hotair commenters saying yes, I do agree. Not because I know what he/she said, but because I trust that person and agree with virtually everything he/she has said politically thus far. Why would this time be any different?

vegconservative on April 29, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I call BS. I am a Hotair commenter, and I don’t know that ANY of us conservatives would do something so stupid…

1) MOST of the politicians that call themselves conservative don’t know the meaning of the word, or what political ideologies are supported by conservatives as evidenced by their votes, actions and even words.

2) I don’t trust politicians. They lie, cheat, steal, threaten, and lie some more… and any “good” ones almost always get turned to the dark side. The few that do stand out, stand out because they can be counted on one hand with multiple fingers left over.

3) Conservatives don’t blindly follow politicians EVEN WHEN THEY ACT CONSERVATIVE. We hold them accountable and continue to evaluate their actions against a conservative standard.

dominigan on April 29, 2012 at 4:01 PM

How would Wasserman-Schmutz handle it?

That is the million dollars question.

Schadenfreude on April 29, 2012 at 4:03 PM

See, politicians all over the world are just as shallow, chickensh*t, ridiculous and useless as ours. I feel sooooo much better now!

Tim Zank on April 29, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Yeah, right. I get the warm and fuzzies. All he had to say was this: “The matter is still being adjudicated and it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time,” and stick to that.

Quick on his feet, he is, but the stupid is strong with this one…

dogsoldier on April 29, 2012 at 4:06 PM

*pictures the Skipper smacking Gilligan with his cap*

Ugly on April 29, 2012 at 4:12 PM

There is not a Democratic congress critter who would not do the same thing no matter what bone head thing O said. But they would filibuster and attack the questioner first.

Just look at what Energy Secretary Chu said, before he was in the administration he thought gas prices should be the same a Europe ie 10 dollars a gallon, and needed but now that he is Eng Sec he has to tow what the WH said and it is not okay with no personal opinion allowed.

tjexcite on April 29, 2012 at 4:14 PM

mittens and the gop suck

Pragmatic on April 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Like a Jewish married couple.

keep the change on April 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Sounds like every democrat I’ve ever known.

Absolutely. Brain. Dead.

Rational Thought on April 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

While I may not know what Prime Minister Gillard says about any matter, I would fight to the death to defend MP Shorten’s right to agree with it!!

TugboatPhil on April 29, 2012 at 4:27 PM

AMessNBC, CNN, ABC, and CBS are now all in a battle to hire this guy to be their WH correspondent.

beedubya on April 29, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Q: Surely you must have your own view on this, Bill Shorten.

A: No.

I actually really liked his answer here.

What if he legitimately has no opinion on the matter? If he has no opinion, it may be because his position doesn’t require him to have an opinion.

Every 2 bit politician having an opinion about every little thing is how the Nanny State gains power.

Lehosh on April 29, 2012 at 4:29 PM

That brings us to the Rorschach test. Is this an example of party hackery in politics, or an unfair media ambush?

Are the two mutually exclusive?

gryphon202 on April 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Look out, Jay Carney. Someone is after your job.

onlineanalyst on April 29, 2012 at 4:38 PM

I remember a local councilman was asked his opinion of a controversy involving his colleagues and replied, “I don’t have one.”

But these folks are from Australia. That’s in the Southern Hemisphere, like the crazy Argentinians. And New Zealanders. They live upside down, all the blood rushes to their heads and makes them do stupid things like invade the Falklands or screw a sheep.

Adjoran on April 29, 2012 at 4:39 PM

L. O. L. !

WeekendAtBernankes on April 29, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Dis no one else catch this?
Or just classier than I am to not mention it?

Peter Slipper

Great name for a homosexual harasser,
whether it happened or not.

LegendHasIt on April 29, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Just more proof of the feminization of men….grow a pair sparky and give your own opinion….what a bunch of pc bull

crosshugger on April 29, 2012 at 4:50 PM

He went to the Rick Santorum school of team poilitics.

rubberneck on April 29, 2012 at 4:59 PM

That’s in the Southern Hemisphere, like the crazy Argentinians. And New Zealanders. They live upside down,

Adjoran on April 29, 2012 at 4:39 PM

You Northist!! Apparently you live in a magno-centric world!

I first saw this in the mid-80s in Christchurch, NZ. There was a guy that dressed as, and was called The Wizard. He spent most of the day in the large plaza downtown and had come up with his own map that was oriented “correctly.”

TugboatPhil on April 29, 2012 at 5:08 PM

mittens and the gop suck

Pragmatic on April 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

…in Australia… dimwit?

KOOLAID2 on April 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Peter Slipper

Great name for a homosexual harasser,
whether it happened or not.

LegendHasIt on April 29, 2012 at 4:49 PM

When I was a kid there was a candidate for Governor of West Virginia named, Peter D. Beter. (yes, pronounced the way you suspect) He was also a forerunner to Art Bell.

TugboatPhil on April 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Makes me so proud to be an Australian. NOT!

wakey74 on April 29, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Umm, his name is Peter Slipper?

Charged with sexual harassment?

Of a man?

Really?

SteveMG on April 29, 2012 at 6:29 PM

R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y is a four-letter word, it seems.

hillbillyjim on April 29, 2012 at 7:13 PM

One things’ for sure, if he were in the U.S., he’d be a Democrat.

bflat879 on April 29, 2012 at 9:43 PM

vegconservative on April 29, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Bollocks.
Thanks for demonstrating YOUR kneejerk political bias, but projecting your own dementia on others don’t make it reality, bub.

Midas on April 29, 2012 at 9:56 PM

I thought it was a magnificent answer. His real answer is “me too,” so why try to pretend it’s anything else?

David Blue on April 29, 2012 at 10:25 PM

I have read neither the article nor the comments, but I agree with all of the above.

CountDeMoney on April 29, 2012 at 11:08 PM

….and my 2 cents from the Headline thread:

Here’s the thing — like every media slug, the interviewer is trying to feed him half the story and get him to say something politically embarrassing. The politician knows he doesn’t have the whole story, the party’s spin, or anything to put the party’s statement in context…..what the heck is he supposed to do?

cthulhu on April 29, 2012 at 1:06 AM

The “gotcha games” are always being played — the interviewer could have said, “well, the PM thought that extending the hiatus was unnecessary — what do you make of that?” Whether Shorten thought this was good or not would have been a “gotcha!” So he clamped on it — the only rational move (besides killing the segment).

cthulhu on April 29, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Another empty meal of grist served up at Hot Air.

rayra on April 30, 2012 at 1:22 AM

You’re working too hard.

The War Planner on April 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

The AWE inspiring Danno Man: Doing the work real Americans refuase to do. /s

DannoJyd on April 30, 2012 at 1:42 AM

BTW, I did not know that John Hinderaker is your father!! You are young indeed…

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/the-nanny-state-squelches-fireworks-rights.php

leftnomore on April 30, 2012 at 3:55 AM

The Shorten Awards? I’m afraid I’d have to throw cold water on that, Ed.

swinia sutki on April 30, 2012 at 5:53 AM

A simple “I don’t make that decision, it’s the Ministers responsibility, I carry out the decision”…follow up…”I have stated, I don’t have that responsibility, so it doesn’t matter what I think, what matters is following procedure, and in this case, I will support the ministers decision”….follow up…”I represent the people and the government, when the two make the final decision, I will properly help implement that, right now the Minister is deliberating and deciding which is best course of action, and I will support that. If it does not best represent what we want to do, I will address that at the time, this is not my decision to make”.

He was just clumsy…

right2bright on April 30, 2012 at 7:53 AM

Another empty meal of grist served up at Hot Air.

rayra on April 30, 2012 at 1:22 AM

Another whining post…

right2bright on April 30, 2012 at 7:54 AM

Q: But you don’t know what that is.

A: No, I’m sure she’s right

Gosh, this sorta reminds me of Nancy Pelosi:

But, you don’t know what’s in Obamacare…
But, I’m sure it’s right -just pass it and we’ll find out
(especially after the more “flexible” second term?)

Don L on April 30, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Pragmatic on April 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Your ADHD acting up this morning?
There’s a reason you have to take that medication on schedule.

Solaratov on April 30, 2012 at 11:11 AM