It's interesting to see how people are tending to feel sorry for John Howard. He did after all suffer a crushing defeat and an ignominious end to a long career.
The thing is, he brought it all upon himself and he's repeatedly shown himself to be a total bastard. He's not some kind of underdog nor is he a top bloke who copped a bad rap.
Howard was ousted because the majority of the population finally decided he was bad for our country's health. Howard made us a target for terrorism, by constantly and unquestioningly supporting Dubya's war on people who live on top of America's oil. His government turned tertiary education into a meat trade, a scrabble for the more lucrative international students whose fees prop up cash-starved universities. Despite heavy taxes, anyone who can afford to pay again for private health and education alternatives has been basically forced to do so.
Meanwhile Howard (and his government) encouraged racism, religious intolerance and anti-gay sentiments... all for the sole purpose of keeping his overpaid arse in power. John Howard didn't serve Australia, he served himself and his own right-wing agenda. He profoundly ignored anyone who was not white, straight, old and rich.
So, don't feel sorry for John Howard. He could have retired gracefully six months ago, but was too arrogant to admit he was going to lose. He could have served Australia instead of ruling the country as a narrow-minded dictator. He could have listened to the nation's desire not to support George Bush's war; our desire to ratify the Kyoto protocol; or even just our desire to be open to multiculturalism (something his reign has set back by several decades).
I'll finish up with a quote, via drjon...
Australian Values: Let the Bloodbath Begin:
We know of no credible evidence to suggest that Howard was other than a borderline sociopath who operated obsessively to further his own agenda without consideration for the harm which that might cause to others - which it certainly did.
In fact he caused great harm to Australia.
He released the dogs of racism to political ends. He released the dogs of capital punishment (and whenever we see pictures of Janette smiling lovingly and sweetly, we remember that she is a death penalty radical and probably Howard’s inspiration in this). He synthetically generated fear and then preyed on that fear in order to curtail people’s freedoms.
So let us not have to listen to any more praise for the man. He was profoundly anti-democratic and we are lucky that the Australian people understood that and removed him before he irretrievably destroyed everything of value in Australian civil society.
So will Kevin Rudd be any better? Hard to know, but the country has taken a punt that he can't be worse than Howard. Besides that, we know that one day we'll be sick of the KRuddster and his party too.
Here's hoping by then the Greens have developed into a more coherent force; that the Democrats are revived or succeeded by another balancing party; and that the ultra-right parties die a natural death.
No party and no Prime Minister should be allowed to get so comfortable and out of touch as John Howard. One person's own agenda should not be allowed to rule so far apart from the will of the nation.
In the meantime, all I can really do is echo the sentiment I've seen expressed many times: congratulations Kevin... now just don't fuck it up.