The Bold and The Woeful

What more can be said about the state of disarray within our federal government?

It has become a theatre of the absurd with a plot line akin to the Days of Our Lives saga. Unfortunately, the events depicted in our daily media are real and the characters are in charge of our nation.

Like every compelling soap opera there are returning players who were previously presumed dead. That role currently ‘stars’ Kevin Rudd, who represents as close to everlasting life as we’ll likely ever see in politics. Even his own team are wondering what special implement is needed to stop him from rising again.

Then there are the characters whose imminent death lingers through episode after episode. Viewers tune in in equal measure, hoping for a miraculous recovery or confirmation of their demise. No one fills this role in modern politics quite like Julia Gillard. There seems to be no doubt within the electorate that she will eventually be put to the political sword but it seems there are a few more scenes to film before that happens.

No good (bad?) soap is complete without the required villains. These are represented in this high political farce by the faceless men. Feared and loathed by most in their own party, few dare risk their ire through failing to pay appropriate homage. After all, when trouble strikes the main players turn to these men to save their skin.

And then there are the bit players; the nodding dolls who stand resolutely behind whomever they are told to for the television cameras, indicating their furious agreement. Sometimes they get to say a few lines of their own but their contribution is generally limited to the state of parliamentary beef stroganoff or ‘lobotomised zombies’.

Of course, there are the obligatory extras. Sometimes these feature members of the public, carefully chosen from the Actors Equity Union membership list who can be relied upon not to steal the ‘on location’ scene from the main stars – think dining with sympathetic mummy bloggers rather than the punters at the Rooty Hill RSL.

Naturally these outside studio shots are fraught with danger lest a rogue extra stumble onto set and say something unscripted that’s not approved by the caucus focus group. Unfortunately for the publicists involved with this political soap opera, these ‘reality star’ moments are captured by independent cinematographers and can rarely be edited out of existence.

Now that we have the players, it seems that the plot takes care of itself. Surely no one who actually wrote a script along the lines of what we have borne witness to could ever be taken seriously.

Here is the executive summary:

The sometime economic conservative, social democrat, Christian socialist head of government is brutally knifed by faceless men in the dead of night. His ‘loyal’ deputy with a history of socialist sympathies and plenty of professional baggage undergoes a metamorphosis and emerges as a ‘real person’. In this guise she betrays the electorate and sells her soul to the Marxist Greens party for thirty pieces of silver.

Unfortunately, she spends many times more silver than she has on fanciful projects that end in disaster, prompting the man she deposed to attempt a comeback. The forces of darkness are unleashed to destroy the character and reputation of the leader in exile, prompting an embarrassing power play that sees both players bloody and wounded.

The former leader declares himself to be dead but no one bothers to actually check his pulse to see if he is telling the truth.

Borrowing from the film Groundhog Day, what follows is a sequence of policy story lines that always end with a dramatic failure. The viewing public, although entranced by the car crash-like events occurring before them, are willing the series to draw to its eventual conclusion. Even a cast of characters they ‘love to hate’ cannot let them contemplate another series.

Suddenly, the leader announces the filming date for the final episode, drawing panic from the assembled cast members who fear for their jobs. In a desperate attempt to get another season commissioned, loyalties are transmuted. Foes become friends and the faceless become ministers. Ministers become faceless and some become a danger to themselves.

In the midst of the carnage, the ‘not dead, just resting’ former leader rises above the fray that he has orchestrated to declare himself a loyal servant. This is their ‘jumping the shark’ moment when people come to realise that this sideshow cannot get any worse and viewers turn off in droves.

Unfortunately for the national network responsible for such tripe, due to the contract in place the show cannot be cancelled without the agreement of the existing cast before the end of the season.

If nothing else, the tragi-comedy we are bearing witness to supports the aphorism that politics really is show business for ugly people…or should that be ugly business for showy people?

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