John Howard, Lazarus Rising


John Howard is naturally instinctively remarkable.

Not really, but these are the three most overused words in his autobiography, “Lazarus Rising”.

Howard has thoughtfully provided his tome in talking book form. Self-read! His stultiloquent, methodist suburban lawyer tone and vocabulary speed my daily constitutional.

As a text it would be unreadable, but I have never been fitter.

Thanks Rattie!

According to John Howard in Lazarus Rising, in 2003 in the run up to the Iraq attack, George W. Bush prevailed on Howard to persuade rotating members of the UNSC to vote in favour of Blair’s casus belli.

Howard was assigned Bertie O’Hearn of Ireland, Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Vicente Fox of Mexico. Howard failed miserably. Unremarkably, Bush chose the wrong messenger boy.

Howard quotes Fox as saying that Australian involvement in the Iraq attack would harm Australian interests. Thankfully, someone was concerned with Australian interests.

Howard obsessively blames the French for this fiasco, ignoring the fact that the UNSC would have voted down the motion without France being compelled to exercise its veto. Howard is very pragmatic with his use of facts.

BTW, “Lazarus Rising” is so tedious that the editor has slumbered through Howard’s misreadings and his muttered oaths. Hilarious. I’m listening to it so you don’t have to. (And also as a stimulus to aerobic exercise.)

In “Lazarus Rising”, John Howard notes his disdain for President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines who fell asleep during a conversation with John Howard.

Evidently, however, President Estrada shared this Ratty-induced narcolepsy with the editor of the talking book version of Howard’s memoir. Fnar, fnar.


John Howard, in Lazarus Rising explains his terminal miscalculation over WorkChoices.

He writes that he assumed that the “mainstream Australian”, having experienced the benefits of freeing the economy to operate with greater intensity without producing inflation, would perceive that freeing the labour market would reduce unemployment, thus allowing more “mainstream Australians” to benefit from the abundance that was the Howard political economy.

Howard was shocked, shocked! that “mainstream Australians” refused to act altruistically in this way. Selfishly, they sought to cling to the IR guarantees implied in the ALP’s critique of WorkChoices.

Howard never tires of referring to his instinctual connection with “mainstream Australia”. This belief was one of the lodestones of his entire political career.

It is hilarious, therefore, that the one time that Howard’s “instinct” was put to the test on the core issue of IR, Howard’s instincts proved to be fatally wrong.

Final Rattygram.

From the perspective of 2011, John Howard in Lazarus Rising recommends that the Libs preference against the “extremist” Greens, that the Greens will disappear like the Australian Democrats and that Adam Bandt cannot win in Melbourne Division in 2013.

Another poor call from Mr Instinct.

In global terms I must concur with Robert Manne’s assessment of John Howard, as he represents himself with his own words:

The Howard who emerges from these pages is not only prideful and subtly vindictive but also remarkably unthoughtful.

I wasn’t going to write another Rattygram. But that was before Howard’s parting shots in the chapter, “Reflections”.

1. Howard explains how economic liberalism and social conservatism cohabit in his universe. Economic liberalization is the “never-to-be-attained finishing line in a race involving all humans. There are no winners, just losers who give up. Conservative social values are the saccharine-coated stimulants that keep the punters running. Disgustingly Straussian, huh?

2. Howard’s final droplet of vitriol is reserved for Robert McNamara (of all people). McNamara committed the sin of plotting the Vietnam War, having second thoughts about the project, and UNFORGIVABLY TELLING THE WORLD ABOUT THEM!

Ratty’s assessment: McNamara owed it to all the people who suffered from his leadership of the Vietnam war to continue to lie about the adventure in order to console them.

A man who follows Howard’s advice cannot be believed. Thanks for the warning Ratty. Too bad it came on the last page of the book.


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