Saturday, 15 August 2009

On becoming a politician

The question — and I have struggled with this myself — is where do you have the most impact, where do you drive most effectively. It is always changing as the world changes. I used to humiliate CEOs, and one needed to be sufficiently emotionally unaware to live with that ethical contradiction — of making leaders look bad in order to get your point across.
So Paul Gilding, former Greenpeace director, as quoted in an article about the Australian singer-turned-politician Peter Garrett [in the SMH's Good Weekend, apparently not online]. It's worth a read, although it's not always so ethically aware: the journalist wants to have his cake and eat it too, issuing cheap shots against Garrett at one remove, or maybe half a remove. The smarmiest of Garrett's critics is Bob Brown, head of the Greens, who has quite a line in moral one-upmanship. Here's a hint, Bob: if you have a former colleage, whom (as you say) you like a great deal, and feel empathy for, and yet you find yourself feeling "a great deal of anxiety for him as a person", pick up the phone, or walk down the corridor to his office, and talk to him personally. Keep your pious concerns out of the press. Or, you know, we might think it had more to do with establishing your own brand by trashing a professional rival.

Garrett on his own situation:
And I think that's the crux of this, you know, `Peter Garrett is not the person he was before. He's become a politician.' Well, yeah, that's right. I did become a politician and I made that step into the discipline of party politics.
Garrett, currently Minister for the Environment, Arts and Heritage, is — and I didn't know this — the second-oldest member of cabinet, which is a disorienting thought. And how he has ever been able to make it through the song Beds Are Burning, given his personal history, boggles the mind.

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