June 04, 2004


George W. Bush deals with He Who Would Withdraw:

US President George Bush has delivered an unprecedented blow to the Labor Party, describing Mark Latham's policy of withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq as "disastrous".

Speaking after a one and a half hour meeting with the Prime Minister, John Howard, at the White House, Mr Bush said withdrawing the troops would "dispirit those who love freedom in Iraq" and "embolden our enemy which believes it can shake our will".

"It would be a disastrous decision for the leader of a great country like Australia to say that we're pulling out," Mr Bush said as the two leaders met reporters in Washington early today, Australian time.

"It would say that the Australian Government doesn't see the hope of a free, democratic society [in Iraq]. It would embolden the enemy to believe that they could shake our will."

Reaction to this locally will be something to see. Anticipate rage.

UPDATE. The yelping begins:

US President George W. Bush should pull his head in and stop interfering in Australian domestic policy, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 4, 2004 05:15 AM

"Reaction to this locally will be something to see. Anticipate rage."

D'ya think the reaction will be remotely similar to that we see when other foreign leaders tell Bush what policies to follow?

Nah, didn't think so. Us stupid Americans need to be told what to do, we aren't supposed to lecture our betters.

Posted by: TomK at June 4, 2004 at 06:29 AM

D'ya think the reaction will be remotely similar to that we see when other foreign leaders tell Bush what policies to follow?

Let's see, that would be: Utter indifference, leavened mostly by snickering, with just a soupcon of sour grapes from the tranzi left.

Posted by: R C Dean at June 4, 2004 at 06:37 AM

Did I miss an election? Last I heard, Howard was in charge down in .au, not Latham.

Posted by: rosignol at June 4, 2004 at 06:52 AM

Bushhitler is usurping electoral powers in Australia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The American Empire is spreading! To the barricades!

PS if Blair is a poodle what kind of pooch Howard makes?

Posted by: Katherine at June 4, 2004 at 07:30 AM

Something tenacious like a bull-dog maybe? Or one of your heelers.

Posted by: rabidfox at June 4, 2004 at 07:51 AM

*shrug* - who cares what that foreigner says? ;)

Posted by: liberal avenger at June 4, 2004 at 07:56 AM

Sadly, the left in Australia would, in the choice between following the US or Al Qaeda's advice, happily strap themselves with dynamite.

Posted by: Quentin George at June 4, 2004 at 08:14 AM

Hey, maybe Howard and Kerry could meet up at a restaurant later...

Posted by: Quentin George at June 4, 2004 at 08:15 AM

Don't you just feel so cosy when Johnny Howard gets smoochie coochie with Mr Decisive?

Posted by: carlos at June 4, 2004 at 08:46 AM

250 troops in Iraq? A disaster? Get off it.

Posted by: bongoman at June 4, 2004 at 08:49 AM

Labor blinked.

'AM' just reported both Latham and Rudd declined to respond to the President's comments.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at June 4, 2004 at 09:11 AM

...250 troops in Iraq? A disaster? Get off it...

Read it again, Bongo Boy.

It's not the number of troops that counts, the 'disaster' would be the message withdrawal would send to the enemy.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at June 4, 2004 at 09:13 AM

In regards to carlos and bongoman's response....I think we are seeing the local response. Especially since Byron reported that Labor blinked.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 4, 2004 at 09:20 AM

It's interesting how the lefty meme (as embodied by bongoman above) instantly switches from "the presence of Australian troops in Iraq is reallyreallyreally terrible" to "aww, it's just 250 guys, what do they matter in the grand scheme of things?" the very instant GWB acknowledges these troops in a big way.

Posted by: PW at June 4, 2004 at 09:27 AM

The President, probably adivsed by our PM, has highlighted the Achilles heel of the Australian Labor Party's silly leader very succinctly: ie the the ALP head has no strategic intelligence and no balls. Liek all Labor leaders, he will make pseudo-right wing noises when in opposition, but as soon as we were fool enough to let him anywhere near the Governement benches, he an his party would become the same government addicted, union-dominated, academic-infested bunch of losers that most past Labor administrations have been.

The voters know this. That's probably why the Labor Party has been in power federally for less than 30 years out of 103 years that have passed since Federation.

Sinistra delenda est!

Posted by: Toryhere at June 4, 2004 at 09:41 AM

I saw this live on TV here in the States this morning. Bush was responding to a reporter who specifically asked for his opinion on Latham's policy (I believe the reporter was from Australia).

I suppose he should have said,"no comment on other countries' internal politics", but what the hell, he told the truth.

Posted by: Ken T at June 4, 2004 at 09:51 AM

Good catch there, PW. bongowho emulates Kerry nicely, eh? A genuine flip flop....and it's not any "aw shucks, tweren't nothing" routine, either.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 4, 2004 at 10:02 AM

This feller will say anything to get the keys to the treasury........ANYTHING

Posted by: Mr Cresote at June 4, 2004 at 10:10 AM

The ALP will, as they usually do on such occassions, accuse the US of interfering in Oz domestic politics. Good, let them interfere , os long as Latham and Rudd are properly screwed for the hypocritical, lying slimeballs that they are.

Posted by: d at June 4, 2004 at 10:12 AM

Gotta love countries who pull out or simply refuse to help....screw the Iraqi people.....
it shows they are not quite the people lovers that the left pretends to be....they are so full of it....by the way where are the human shields that were there at the start ? I think they caught on that the mad men we are fighting do not care who they kill as they kill muslims and us non-believers daily.

Posted by: JAMSON at June 4, 2004 at 11:05 AM

I love it. The best part is, Latham can't complain, because he personally attacked Bush in Parliament about a year ago.

Hoist by his own petard.

Posted by: EvilPundit at June 4, 2004 at 11:18 AM

The fact is George Bush just gave Mark Latham's balls an almighty squeeze.Expect him to scream - there isn't anything else he can do. However,you can be sure if he gets into office, he'll become the USA arselicker he accuses Howard of being. Again, he's got no choice.

Posted by: narkynark at June 4, 2004 at 11:19 AM

Do I agree with GWB?


How much

Completely on this issue

Will GWB's comments change the opinion of the the Richard Neville's of Australia?

No...commonsense does not apply on that planet

Maybe it will clarify the issues for the ordinary people however. That should serve it straight up to Latham/Crean (why is Simon no longer mentioned? Did he die?)

Posted by: Allan at June 4, 2004 at 11:31 AM

I think the crocodile hunter should be the next PM

P.S. Bongonumbnuts, the Aussies have 850 troops in Iraq.

Posted by: Oktober at June 4, 2004 at 11:48 AM

I was just about to make the same point, Oktober. And here is a list of the tasks they need to complete.

Posted by: EvilPundit at June 4, 2004 at 11:53 AM

How is Howard doing popularity wise? Is there a good chance he will lose to this Latham character?

Posted by: Dash at June 4, 2004 at 12:04 PM

The polls are all over the place.

Here's what Latham said about Bush:

ROSS SOLLY: Right. Just finally then, Mark Latham, you did say in your speech the other night that you thought George Bush was "the most incompetent and dangerous President in living history". Do you stand by those comments?

MARK LATHAM: Well, I certainly stand by the analysis of the shortcomings of his strategy in fighting the “war against terror”, and I stand by the comments that I made entirely, and supported, I must say, by very strong reservations in my electorate about the capacity of the American President.

I've got people coming up to me all the time and sending messages saying isn't it so dangerous and worrying that we're following George W Bush so blindly? And that's why there's so much opposition to the Howard Government, a blind rush to support the Americans and have war in Iraq.

ROSS SOLLY: And the backbenchers are a conga line of suckholes?

MARK LATHAM: Well, I think you can judge that for yourself. I mean, the Howard Government backbench has been compliant to the Prime Minister, just as he's compliant to the President.

Posted by: EvilPundit at June 4, 2004 at 12:06 PM

Narkyhawke, Latham has only got one ball. That's literally true! (See New Observer Article) And I think it's a big part of his problem - and ours! His life is a compensatory virility play.

Posted by: Sue at June 4, 2004 at 12:07 PM

From the West Australian, about Latham's aborted trip to the US recently :

But having criticised US President George Bush as the worst President ever and labelling Prime Minister John Howard an "arselicker" for his close relationship with Mr Bush, senior people were not rushing to meet him.
It would be difficult to criticise Dubya for 'unwarranted interference in Aus Domestic affairs', since Latham got the first boot in. But I'm sure some people in the ALP will try it on. Briefly.

Posted by: Alan E Brain at June 4, 2004 at 12:12 PM

If I got Latham a pet brown snake as a present to show my support for his campaign, and left it in the bottom sheets of his bed, and it bit him, and he died, would that be considered murder?

Posted by: Oktober at June 4, 2004 at 12:22 PM

Nah Oktober - idiocide.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at June 4, 2004 at 12:55 PM

I was worried about the Australian Street... then I realized the Australian Street is no problem unless there's just been a football game.

By the way, did you hear that Zipadeedoodah of Spain gave his Minister of Defense and two generals MEDALS for conducting a successful withdrawal from Iraq?

Posted by: richard mcenroe at June 4, 2004 at 01:08 PM

Latham said, (George).."the most incompetent and dangerous President in living history".
Which is true.- but I suspect not a very prudent thing to say about George. He may not read the papers - but you can bet John Howard told..("and do you know what else he said.."..in whiny voice)
However, George is a Christian man so he could just "turn the other cheek". Wadaya think, is he a turn the other cheek kind of guy , or a an eye for an eye kind of guy?

Posted by: carlos at June 4, 2004 at 01:11 PM

It wouldn't bite him, it would scuttle away in horror. Try a Funnel Web spider.

Posted by: ilibcc at June 4, 2004 at 01:11 PM

It's nice that Latham refers to his electorate. Unfortunately, his electorate (that's a District for American readers) consists of some of the poorest and nastiest areas in Sydney. I know we are supposed to treat everybody as equal, but basing the whole of his party's policy on the most important issue facing the country today on the basis of the views expressed by die-hard, rusted on ALP supporters from the lower reaches of the soico-economic scale is hardly very sophisticated behaviour on Latham's part. The man is out of his depth. And remember, if Latham gets elected Crean would be Treasurer.

Posted by: Toryhere at June 4, 2004 at 01:13 PM

Toryhere, I gather that this Crean dude isn't the sort of person to leave in charge of any amount of money?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 4, 2004 at 01:50 PM

Bob Brown, vocal critic of US foreign policy, has criticized the President of interfering with Australian Politics. In order to defend Brown's honour I have preemptively compiled a list of differences between Brown's attacks and the President's attacks.

  • Bush is the President and Brown is a Senator.

  • Bush is an American, and the US must bow down to her 'betters' in the world community and the morally pure U.N. In contrast, Brown is an Australian and therefore must hold slightly more moral authority than an American,

  • Bush is criticizing possible future Australian policy, while Brown has criticized both future American policy, past American policy and current American policy

  • The Bushitler must be opposed at all costs.

Posted by: drscroogemcduck at June 4, 2004 at 01:51 PM

Bush seems like the loud mouthed little bully thats about to get his ass kicked since none of the other kids will back him anymore.

shame he's attached to my country.

Posted by: IXLNXS at June 4, 2004 at 01:55 PM

IXLNXS: Have you heard the phrase Yeeeeehhhhaaaahhhh!!! lately? Seems to me the Democrats are the loud-mouthed ones in US politics just now.

So Tim's Update says Bob Brown is the first hysterical cab off the rank, eh? No surprises there. Of course, he reserves to himself the right to 'interfere' in US politics at will. How many people actually vote for a Tasmanian senator anyway - three?

Posted by: CurrencyLad at June 4, 2004 at 02:20 PM

How many people actually vote for a Tasmanian senator anyway - three?

Seven, if you count all the heads.

Posted by: EvilPundit at June 4, 2004 at 02:33 PM

Why do the media give a voice to this backward tree hugger from Tazzie anyway, he's a disgrace!

Posted by: Yasonas at June 4, 2004 at 02:38 PM

Glad that Bob Brown has finally decided outside interference is not a good idea; now he just has to kearn to apply it to the UN and refugess, and there might even be a reason to one day vote Gren...

Posted by: HippyKiller at June 4, 2004 at 03:45 PM

I suspect that Latham has been wearing his bra a little too tightly lately, In question time whenever he is asked a simple question regarding our economy or national security, He manages to equate the answer with reading story books to children ! Inadequate opposition.

Posted by: Andrew Bolt at June 4, 2004 at 04:04 PM

Who voted for Dr. Bob Brown ?

Well, Tasmania has a total population of approximately 450,000. About 300,000 of these people can vote, and most do, due to onerous Aussie electoral law (Ve Haf Vays of makink you vote!).

Four senators are elected from each state, ergo you must get a majority of one-quarter of the vote (50%+ of 25% of 300,000) - a little over 30,000 votes.

Other Australian states have up to ten times the number of voters - but only return the same four senators. Tasmanian voters have up to ten times the electoral clout of their mainland peers.

The state of Tasmania is a 'negative contributor' to the Australian Federation. For every dollar of tax they pay, they get around $1.80 back.

There are almost no industries on the island, and apart from some mines on the west coast, absolutely no industry not heavily subsidised (by the fed).

The absolute majority of Tasmanian workers (employed ones that is - there are a hell of a lot of unemployed ones) are either public servants or employees of entirely publicly owned and or funded companies.

In short, Tasmania is a kind of South-Seas Nanny-state, funded by the easy going Aussies to their immediate north, and repaying them by sending shit-stirrers like Bob Brown (appropriate moniker) to their Parliament.

Posted by: Robert Blair at June 4, 2004 at 04:06 PM

What a joke - the Australian left complaining about Bush interfering in our local politics.

Meanwhile, the Australian Democrats continue to lobby every single US Senator not to ratify the US-Aus Free Trade Agreement.

Posted by: Alex Robson at June 4, 2004 at 04:15 PM


I agree with the thrust of your post about Tasmania, but I think you will find that the Apple Isle, like the the other States i Australia, has 12 senators, six of which are up for election at each House of Reps election (unless there is a double dissolution election when all 12 are Senate seats would be contested).

This means that in a normal Half Senate Elction Bob Brown only needs about 10,000 votes to get elected.

Posted by: Toryhere at June 4, 2004 at 04:21 PM

Why don't I know those numbers ? Am I getting the four senators mixed up with US senators ? Its actually a long time since I voted in an Aussie election ... must be getting old ...

Posted by: Robert Blair at June 4, 2004 at 04:28 PM

Narkynark is right on, Latham will be an arse licker but it won't be the U.S., he aims, as he has declared, to lick the arse of the Chinese communist govt. and party, while Rudd will lick the arse of Anan and the U.N.

Posted by: d at June 4, 2004 at 04:40 PM

How many people are named IXLINXS.

I've seen this moniker on comments at other rightish US blogs, and they seen quite rational and non-confrontational in relation to the post.

Yet here on Tim's site, all hell seems to break loose. What gives? Same bloke or what?

Posted by: DaveACT at June 4, 2004 at 04:55 PM

Robert! Toryhere! You're famous!

Posted by: Marty at June 4, 2004 at 05:01 PM

Was Uncle Dick Cheney holding George Jr's hand at the time?

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at June 4, 2004 at 05:53 PM

THATS IT ? Thats all Bush said ?!

3AW talkback radio were going apeshit about how Bush was bagging Latham.

Theres no harm in those comments for petes sake ! He didn't even say anything about Latham, let alone call him an arselicker. Bloody media is in a feeding frenzy.


Posted by: Jono at June 4, 2004 at 06:04 PM

Pottinger, do you actually have anything intelligent to add?


Posted by: Quentin George at June 4, 2004 at 09:26 PM

Carlos get your lazy ass back outside and finish mowing the lawn. Who told you that you could come inside and use the computer? Jeez you give 'em an in an' they take a mile.

Posted by: Fat Cracker at June 4, 2004 at 10:37 PM

DaveACT — IXLINXS is reasonable. Ooooookay... *which* other sites have you found him posting at?

Posted by: richard mcenroe at June 5, 2004 at 01:48 AM

Toryhere & Robert,

I think your arithmetic might be a little off. Due to the arcane mystery of the Senate voting system, Brown needs to get a "quota" of Senate votes to take his seat in Canberra. Assuming about 300,000 voters in Tassie, that would be around 50,000 in a normal Senate election and about 25,000 in a double dissolution election, wouldn't it?


Posted by: TFK at June 5, 2004 at 02:18 AM

Heh - just checked. This is from the parliamentary web site:

"Proportional representation voting, as used in the Senate, is designed to secure the election of several candidates in each state (twelve in the case of a double dissolution, six in the case of a regular half-Senate election) each of whom has obtained a number of votes equal to or exceeding a required quota (or proportion of votes) necessary for election. The quota is obtained by dividing the total number of formal votes by one more than the number of candidates to be elected, and adding one to the result. Thus, if the total of formal votes in a state at an election for six Senators is 700,000, the quota is 100,001. That is, a candidate will need to win at least 100,001 votes to be elected."

In our Tassie scenario, assume 280,000 formal votes so we get a nice round figure. In a normal senate election, quota = 40,001 votes. He is number 1 on the Green ticket, so he would probably get most of it from first preference votes.

Anyway, the man's a fool, regardless of the figures. I just watched him up against George Brandis on "Lateline". Brown is an intellectual and moral pygmy compared to Brandis.



Posted by: TFK at June 5, 2004 at 02:29 AM

Bush is a nice guy - until you cross him. He is pretty famous for holding a grudge. Incidentally, he was and still is an excellent poker player.

But don't worry, lefties, he is a moron, Chimp, whatever. Good luck in that alternative universe.

Posted by: Katherine at June 5, 2004 at 02:31 AM

oktober: Which are you saying would die from the bite? Latham or the snake?

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at June 5, 2004 at 04:48 AM