April 13, 2004


Mark Latham keeps getting it wrong, and serious adults are telling him so:

Opposition Leader Mark Latham was unmoved after the United States government took the unusual step of formally rejecting his claims about the state of the US-Australia alliance.

The US State Department said Mr Latham's promise to restore Australia to an equal partner in the alliance was neither well informed nor well based.

Mr Latham last week said that under a Labor government, Australia would be an equal partner in the alliance, not a deputy sheriff.

But a US State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said that equality was the bedrock of the alliance.

"The alliance between Australia and the United States is a partnership of equals in principle and in reality," Mr Cooper told AAP by telephone from Washington.

"Characterisations to the contrary are neither well informed nor well based."

Cooper is correct. Lathamís we ainít nobodyís deputy! stance is based on myth. Hereís a summary of Lathamís speech:

Australia should be an equal partner, not a deputy sheriff, to the United States and should concentrate on protecting itself, not following the US into conflict, he said.

"We have never seen our future as someone else's deputy," Mr Latham told the Lowy Institute in Sydney in a speech outlining Labor's foreign policy.

Who ever said it was? Well, apart from the likes of CNN:

Asked whether he saw Australia as Washington's "deputy sheriff" in Southeast Asia -- a description once used by Howard -- Bush replied: "No. We don't see it as a deputy sheriff. We see it as a sheriff."

Bush called the two countries "equal partners, friends and allies. There's nothing deputy about this relationship."

CNN is wrong. Howard never used that description. The ďdeputy sheriffĒ line being thrown around by Latham evolved from an interview with The Bulletinís Fred Brenchley in 1999, as Gerard Henderson explained last year:

It is surprising that, nearly four years after the event, some diplomats and foreign commentators still believe that Howard announced, in September 1999, that Australia would be "deputy sheriff" to the United States in the Asian region. It is true Brenchley interpreted the Prime Minister's view as necessitating that Australia would be a deputy to the US. It's just that Howard never used this term. Nor did he utter the word "sheriff" - this was dropped into the story by a subeditor in search of a memorable subheading.

Lathamís foreign policy appears to be driven by something the Prime Minister didnít say. Well done, Mark. And in other unchecked-fact news, Phillip Adams writes about a former Prime Minister:

Keating, as far as I know, has never attended a football match in his life.

Someone, please, teach Phil how to use the Internet. Or even to examine News Ltd photo archives, which contain numerous images of Keating at AFL games. Has Adams forgotten Keatingís farcical Collingwood membership?

Posted by Tim Blair at April 13, 2004 04:55 AM

I imagine the farcial membership was the result of a smart political move on behalf of the Irish Catholic mafia at Collingwood.

Posted by: jafa at April 13, 2004 at 06:25 AM

Should we send Mr. Latham a helping of that plastic turkey?

Posted by: Teresa at April 13, 2004 at 08:53 AM

It sounds like your opposition is as out of touch as ours. John Kerry thinks we need more U.N. in Iraq. So I guess he would make the U.S. the deputy there.

Posted by: AST at April 13, 2004 at 08:58 AM

But Tim, here's your very own employer repeating the appelation:

Howard, who in 1999 had allowed himself to be depicted in a famous interview with The Bulletin's Fred Brenchley as the American "deputy sheriff" in the Pacific

and also the Prez weighs in , but dispenses with the "deputy and goes straight for sherrif .

US President George W Bush has called Australia America's "sheriff" in the region.

So you can't blame Latham for using the line when your employer Mr. Packer, and Prezident Bush endorse it as well.

Posted by: Rex at April 13, 2004 at 09:14 AM

Bush didn't endorse the "deputy" bit, which is what is at issue, Rex.

(Oh, and I suspect critics of Howard will be over this article like a rash. (It has the RSL asking for an "exit strategy"))

Posted by: Andjam at April 13, 2004 at 09:28 AM

Rex Tim already quoted Bush calling Australia "sheriff" didn't you see it?

Posted by: Gary at April 13, 2004 at 10:08 AM

You see Anjam. What Tim said was this:

Latham’s we ain’t nobody’s deputy! stance is based on myth

the myth being that Howard used the words "deputy sherrif". Latham never says that Howard used these words.

Latham simply takes a term that has common understanding, that has entered the folklore and has been perpetrated by many media outlets, and been re-enforced by the President, and uses this term to make his point.

What Tim implies is that Latham is misquoting Howard. When in fact Latham is just using languange that resonates with the people. What wrong with that?

Posted by: Rex at April 13, 2004 at 10:12 AM

Perhaps I'm misquoting Latham, but when he said "I've got my head so totally up my arse that the echoes are making me even battier than the stench and the darkness" it appeared to me to disqualify him from the Prime Ministership of Australia. Do you agree, Rex?

Anyway, if he didn't say it, he certainly has endorsed it by not denying it. Subheading to follow.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at April 13, 2004 at 10:16 AM

JorgXMcKie is "using languange that resonates with the people" Rex.

Posted by: Gary at April 13, 2004 at 10:33 AM

I'm glad we've established that Rex is okay with lying, as long as the lie "resonates with the people".

No, don't even dare to tell me that I might be putting words in your mouth with the above...I'm just rephrasing your stance so it resonates better with the general crowd here.

BTW, have Rex and Mork ever been seen in the same place at the same time? Those silly attempts to hair-split away unwanted facts look oddly familiar.

Posted by: PW at April 13, 2004 at 10:35 AM

Keating's foray into the Collingwood scene demonstrated the danger of becoming involved in a scene you are unfamiliar with.

Keating said something like "I'm looking forward to seeing Collingwood kick a try".

How Australian Rules supporters must have laughed at that!!


Posted by: amortiser at April 13, 2004 at 10:40 AM

My god Rex why don't you read the entire post? All you did was quote what Tim already quoted you stupid asshead.

"...language that resonates with the people..." Jesus, you're a parody.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 13, 2004 at 12:03 PM

'Resonate'? is like get Hummer off peoples? ^ ^ !

Posted by: Drago at April 13, 2004 at 12:10 PM

Drago, you know you are supposed to park that vehicle of yours inside the lines. Remember: the lines in the parking lot and on the street are our friends, and they keep the bad policeman away.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 13, 2004 at 12:22 PM

JorgXMcKie, that language resonates well with the people of Werriwa, especially cab drivers.

Posted by: narkynark at April 13, 2004 at 02:26 PM

Jesus you're a parody

Now Now Andrea. No blaspheming.

Where did you learn your manners? In the trailer park?

Posted by: Rex at April 13, 2004 at 02:35 PM

"Latham is just using languange that resonates with the people. What wrong with that?"

For politicians this is business as usual. For us 'people' it's disgusting. Say whatever needs to be said in order to get elected. Worry about truth later.

This is happening in the US. The anti-Bush people are saying whatever 'resonates' in order to push Pres. Bush out of office.

I'm not a 'rah-rah' Bush fan. Didn't vote for him. But any politician who continues to repeat 'political urban legends' (like 'the turkey') should be called on it.

This 'deputy to the US' seems to be a 'political urban legend'. Mr. Latham doesn't seem to mind that what he says is false. It's all fair in love and politics.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at April 13, 2004 at 03:05 PM

No Tim, Cooper is dead wrong. The alliance is in no way a partnership of equals. Do we have bases in the US, or they in Australia? Do they buy our old weapons, or do we buy theirs? Do they join us in our military adventures (Timor), or do we join theirs (Iraq)?

Get real, people!

Posted by: fatfingers at April 13, 2004 at 03:06 PM

hmmm. a call to 'get real' from somebody called 'Fatfingers'.

Posted by: roscoe at April 13, 2004 at 05:08 PM

Shortly after posting, fatfingers was hauled away from his computer by armed US soldiers to be permenantly detained at an undisclosed American military base in Australia.

Posted by: Sortelli at April 13, 2004 at 05:09 PM

Do they join us in our military adventures (Timor)

A better question: Does Bill Clinton, Saint of the Left, get blamed for that. (Keep in mind, this happened in 1998.)

No. It's still Bush's fault...apparently.

Posted by: Quentin George at April 13, 2004 at 05:15 PM

HeeHee! is Fartfingers got clown costume? I listen then!

Posted by: Bilal at April 13, 2004 at 07:07 PM

Hallo Andrea! Yes is very large but will try to fit in :)

Posted by: Drago Milovechek at April 13, 2004 at 07:31 PM

Hes a bit of worry, is our Mark.

When that phony veneer he hides behind slips more amd more these days, what it hides is very spooky.
He rants like Hitler, gesticulates like Hitler, goes apoplectic like Hitler ..geeze hes even only got one nut like Hitler...

Next, hell be writing a book called "My Struggle".

Posted by: bailodor at April 13, 2004 at 08:29 PM


In our alliance with the Americans, we are equal in honor but not in power.

Of course Mark Latham would throw away our national honor by having us cut and run, letting down our mates in a big fight. Then we really would be inferior.

Posted by: David Blue at April 13, 2004 at 08:53 PM

Hi Rex! Where'd you learn to come back like that, in kindergarten? Or did you get that far in school?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 13, 2004 at 10:53 PM

Andrea, sure he got to kindergarten. Three times.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at April 14, 2004 at 01:13 AM

Roscoe: Hmmm. Your point is?

Sortelli: And yours?

Quentin George: The alliance is between Australia and the USA, not our PM and their Pres. Clinton is no darling of mine, nor the lefties I know. Get informed, then get real.

Bilal: Considering the rape of clowns post by Tim, I'm a bit worried what you have in mind.

The truth is, no-one can have an equal alliance with the world's only superpower, and you all know it. Anything said to the contrary is just brainless rhetoric.

Posted by: fatfingers at April 14, 2004 at 01:57 PM