Stephen Sackur misses his mark with John Howard

When I watched the BBC’s HARDtalk interview by Stephen Sackur with our former Prime Minister of Australia, I was reminded why Mr Howard was one of our greatest leaders. He had to endure Sackur’s constant interruptions but came out the winner because while Sackur behaved like a desperate ferret trying to scurry from point to point and failing visibly, Mr Howard was amazingly cool.

Sackur tried to interrupt him before he could answer a question and was extremely rude which made Howard look so very much like the statesman that he is. It is now even clearer why former treasurer, Peter Costello, could never reach the heights of Prime Ministership. He just never had the balls.

What was impressive about Howard in this interview was that in defending his actions as Prime Minister, he never criticised the actions of his successor, Kevin Rudd. How cool is that in the current arena!

Now that we are in the woods with Prime Minister Rudd I certainly miss the aplomb of the old master.

It was moreover evident that Stephen Sackur has none of the panache of former interviewer HARDtalk icon, Tim Sebastian, and we certainly miss his informed methods of interviewing on that programme.


Can Obama sulk? Yes, he can

You would think that President Obama would grab every opportunity to speak to the public. He certainly is a great one for making speeches. But he now has decided that he will boycott the Fox Channel…not boycott per se, but just decline to appear on it because he does not like what Fox says about him.

While it’s quite true that the Fox Channel is not a supporter of the Democrats, it is true that the other TV channels appear to be. He has appeared on them many times.

It would behove the President to face his opponents rather than be intimidated by them. Or worse still, create the impression of sulking when he is not surrounded by adoring Obama fans and that is not a good look for a “strong” leader. It’s as if he thinks that if they won’t say something nice about him he won’t front up for an interview.

Obama is an excellent speaker and would impress the public if he didn’t act afraid. Anybody would feel relaxed on his home ground on the ABC or CNN but it’s how one behaves in unfriendly territory that marks the man. Nobody respects a man who runs away from “a fight”.

I bet that our former Prime Minister, John Howard, would not have been intimidated in that way, nor would our current Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, for that matter.

Nobel Peace Prize for Obama. Whatever.

So President Obama has been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Undeserved? Who knows? He hasn’t done anything yet.

What is really absurd is that Obama was nominated for this award less than two weeks after becoming President of the U.S.

Giving the President the Peace Prize denigrates the entire award which has often been controversial. From past experience many of the recipients of this prize appear to be undeserving and have later proved themselves to be so, but even Obama is embarrassed by this accolade.

If I were the President I would thank Norway but decline the honour because it was premature. Otherwise, it gives the impression that it’s a reward for having run a successful election campaign. I am not usually a fan of the term “whatever” but in this case it seems most apt.

Did Kim Hill really say that?

I can’t imagine that this is what Kim Hill, Chief Executive of the Northern Land Council (an Aboriginal group) really meant what he said when he said the following:-

“We’d like to see traditional owners have their own shops in Paris selling their own skins.”

He was referring apparently to selling crocodile skins. I thought they were a protected species, the crocodiles, I mean… Oops, I almost made the same linguistic error as Mr Hill.

Can Obama talk a lot? Yes he can.

In his latest speech today, the one about Iran and the nukes and good old Mr El Baradei, President Obama said “talk is no substitute for action.” Well, you could have fooled me because all we have witnessed from the U.S President is talk, talk and more talk and he’s correct when he says it’s no substitute for action. So where is the action?

He is talking with everybody and with all this talk comes a sense that he’s unwilling to act. He’s the sort of person who keeps threatening his opponents with more dialogue and it’s as if he’s playing for time. Is he really that naive to think that Iran is going to stop producing weapons-strength uranium? Is he hoping that something bad will happen to the Iranian leadership so that he will not have to act?

Perhaps he’s just going to bore the opposition to death with his speeches and jingles and slogans. Can he do that? Yes he can. The speeches are pretty, Mr President, but it’s enough already because you are appearing weak and hesitant and that’s not good.

Iran will not take Obama seriously because the Iranians have sussed out that this is a talking president and not one who acts. Once that impression has been made no amount of warnings will change anything. Iran will simply build more secret nuclear reactors and thumb its collective noses at the U.S President.

Pity about that when we hoped something good would come from this new U.S government.