Howard sleeping in Obama's bed? Who would have thunk it...

A story made the rounds yesterday about how John Howard unintentionally stymied the Obama family’s request to stay at a government guest house before they move into the Whitehouse later this month. Even the staunchest Howard hater couldn’t really pin this one on rotten old Johnny, because silly old George W invited him to stay there, but I did find something a little eerie about Howard's appearance in Washington at this significant point in time - a changing of the U.S. guards if ever there was one.

Howard represents ‘the old way’ and his presence in this story reminded me of a line from The Times Are A’Changin: “get out of the new road if you can’t lend a hand.” But of course Johnny is there to pick up his medal, awarded to him by - let's talk straight - the most despised U.S. President this side of Richard Nixon, and easily one of the most ridiculed. Even Nixon’s detractors acknowledge he was one clever bastard – ruthless and cunning, yes, and with about the same moral integrity as a baby-munching Rottweiler, but certainly very cluey.

Howard played the part of George W’s lap dog with relish, and his subservience towards Bush’s administration was deeply embarrassing for Australians. But the most disgraceful of Howard’s many kiss-George’s-ass moments occurred in early 2007 when he prattled off the following unforgivable diatribe to the Nine Network’s Sunday program:

"If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

Such an astonishing comment should have sent chills down the spine of every politically-minded Australian. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and George W. Bush had said last year that if he were a terrorist, he would put a circle around November ’07 and pray for a victory for Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party. Imagine how incensed we would be. Even Republicans in America stepped in to criticise Howard’s disgraceful comments.

Kevin Rudd maintains a nice guy image - a refreshing contrast to Howard’s tyrannical, my-way-or-da-highway style. But like every Prime Minister, Rudd is also capable of blasting his opponents with cartridges of verbose and scathing language. One of my favourite clips of Rudd in Question Time is not the ear wax thing but his stinging rebuke of Howard’s comments about Obama. It is meticulously argued on logical, moral and political grounds. For those who think K-Rudd aint got no bite, check out the Youtube video below.


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