In the film Inherit The Wind (1960: Dir. Stanley Kramer), which deals with the showdown between fundamentalist religion and science in Dayon Tennessee in 1925, William Jennings Bryan (Fredric March), and Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracy) share a moment on the porch of a boarding house following the day’s court battle.
Bryan tells Darrow that religion offers rural Americans ‘a golden chalice of hope’.
By way of reply, Darrow recounts a tale from his childhood about pressing his nose to the glass of the local toy store to look at a golden rocking horse which he longed to own, thinking that if the rocking horse was his then he would have everything that he ever wanted in life.
(Fortunately for young Clarence, he did not tell his parents that he was “willing to do anything short of selling his arse” to get it).
Darrow recalls that to his delight, he awoke on the morning of his seventh birthday to find the rocking horse in the family living room.
His joy was short lived however, for when he mounted his new toy, it immediately split in half and collapsed into a pile of gilt and sawdust. ‘ The wood was rotten’, he tells Bryan. ‘The whole thing was held held together with spit and sealing wax.’
The moral of Darrow’s story was of course that all that glitters is not gold and often that which appears to have substance is in fact, hollow.
Darrow’s tale also included the sub-text that you should always be careful about what you wish for because you just might get it.
For the past three years Tony Abbott had his nose pressed against the glass that separated him from the office of prime-minister, and like the young Darrow thought that if he got it, he would have everything that he ever wanted.
In Abbott’s case however, it’s not the horse that is held together with spit and sealing wax but the rider.
In the two short months since he took office, Abbott is proving himself to be woefully unequal to the task.
From his inability to articulate a sentence in interviews by the media to the ham-fisted attempts in trying to impose a ‘cone of silence’ around asylum seeker arrivals and the current diplomatic furor with Indonesia, Abbott is clearly out of his depth and appears to be learning the lesson that while its easy to promise the implementation of policies when in opposition, it’s quite another to deliver them when in government.
Moreover, it’s one thing to proclaim that you intend to ignore other nations sensitivities and cultural mores in order to play to the xenophobes in the back-blocks, it’s quite another thing when you have to sit down and conduct diplomatic relations with their leaders.
Gough Whitlam once remarked that while there are plenty of mugs to be found in politics, there are no mugs who become prime-minister.
Abbott is rapidly proving to be the exception to the rule.
The Post’s resident astrologer Madame Ruth – you know, that gypsy with the gold capped tooth! reckons that he’ll be gone in eighteen months.