Pauline Hanson as Australia's Trump
Angela Mollard (above) rightly compares Pauline to Donald J. Trump below. She could equally have compared Pauline to Ronald Reagan or Joh Bjelke Petersen. It was the Gipper who was first described as a "Teflon" politician -- one who did everything wrong by the Left-dominated standards of the media world but who somehow remained mystifyingly popular. None of his "gaffes" hurt him. Sir Joh was an outstanding Australian example of that. He and Reagan tied for the biggest percentage of the popular vote -- 59% -- ever achieved by a political leader in a Western democracy.
Angela is a generally sensible lady of a rather conservative disposition so she shows some understanding of the popularity but she misses the main "secret" of those three figures. It is simple:
All three seemed to a lot of people to be speaking commonsense in a world gone mad. Immigration is a prime example of that. To a lot of people in Western countries, immigration seems out of hand, with lots of undesirables -- such as Middle-Eastern Muslims -- pouring into the country who bring us nothing but harm. And yet all other politicians of both Left and Right seem paralysed when it comes to doing something about it. So someone who DOES speak out against a crazy consensus -- Reagan, Trump, Petersen, Hansen -- will be loved no matter what. He/she becomes what the Bible calls "A Pearl without price". Appreciation of such people is so strong that gaffes on other issues are instantly forgiven.
It is that simple. Too simple for most politicians to admit
For any other politician it would go down in history as a disastrous week.
A party leader seen to be suggesting the Port Arthur massacre was part of a government conspiracy.
Her chief of staff and Queensland state leader captured in secret recordings discussing softening the party’s gun control policies in exchange for cash from America’s most powerful lobby group, the National Rifle Association. (This, of course, as across the Tasman thousands gathered at a remembrance service to honour 50 people killed in New Zealand’s worst terrorist attack.)
Then a bumbling press conference by said leader that was more ramble than rhetoric and will be remembered by some for the multiple errors and the red tick mark on the speaker’s cheek.
Anyone else would slink away hoping that the news cycle this weekend might throw up some other great scandal or disaster so that the past week’s shenanigans might be superseded by something worse.
Not Pauline Hanson. She’s emerged from the scandal more powerful than ever.
It must be galling to those who’ve had their careers nosedive on a poorly sourced fact or a clumsy utterance to see the flame-haired, Phoenix-like Hanson rise from the rubble yet again. So what’s her secret? Has she been spray-coated like Donald Trump with a substance to which nothing sticks? Or are her supporters so rusted on that she can do anything.
For Bronwyn Bishop, it took just a careless taxpayer-funded jaunt in a helicopter to see her turfed from office. Meanwhile Hanson can spout conspiracies based on some unnamed “blue book” and claim her colleagues are the victims of a “sting” and she’ll doubtless live to tell another hundred badly articulated tales.
The truth is that if her followers accept her making racist comments based on fear rather than fact, they’re hardly likely to turn on her for her recent comments.
In any case, they’re members of a club bound less by what they value and more by what they hate: namely latte-sipping inner-city wankers. Hanson’s supporters, like those of Trump, see her as anti-elite. They don’t care if what she says is sexist, racist, bigoted or stupid as long as their leader is annoying the media or urban sophisticates who wouldn’t know one end of a shovel from another.
When Hanson is criticised by the media, regardless of the substance, her supporters see it as evidence of the elite attacking “the deplorables”, the name Hillary Clinton so memorably ascribed to her detractors and a misjudgment that enabled Trump to trampoline straight into office.
Hanson’s supporters, like those of Trump, see the media as part of a political machine that is out to suppress the aspirations of “ordinary Australians” who “are living in the real world”. They’re the battlers and the underdogs and they’re driven by the belief there’s a cultural, economic and political elite who look down on them.
Hanson’s press conference on Thursday was Kool-Aid to her fans. They don’t care if she’s incoherent or short on facts. To them, she’s a maverick with a microphone who eschews brevity and big words. She speaks as her supporters talk to each other and so her dialogue – irrespective of what she’s actually saying – is familiar and reassuring. Like them she sees herself as a victim of both the establishment and a media riven with bias. As she told her fans in the 18-minute diatribe, there were some nice journalists and some nasty ones. Obviously Al Jazeera are the nasty ones even though, as she admitted, she hadn’t watched the full investigation.
Nevertheless, she still claimed the footage was dubbed and heavily edited.
Long before Trump came up with the concept of fake news, Hanson has claimed the media has been out to get her. When One Nation was wiped out at the federal election in 1998 she blamed it on Rupert Murdoch, falsely claiming he ordered News Corp Australia newspapers to attack her.
What is accurate is that the issue of preferencing One Nation will now consume the political debate in the lead-up to the election.