It's interesting to see how different the Australian political scene is from that of the US.
Yesterday the Reserve Bank lifted interest rates. Now, John Howard was re-elected in late 2004 on a key promise to keep interest rates low. This morning on Seven Sunrise, the re-played a clip of Howard making this promise at the time, following which the show's host, David Koch, said of Howard "Well, that was all a load of hogwash."
Now, when George W. Bush visited Canberra in 2003, he said, "I love democracy" when heckled by some MPs. But can you imagine Bush appearing for an unscripted interview on Good Morning America, following which the host called the President's words, "Hogwash"?
Apart from the fact that the interview wouldn't take place in the first place, any major network anchor who said something like that would be innundated by hate mail. Because there is that mood amongst some Americans - that the slightest critic of the Bush administration hates America, is abetting terrorists, and goodness knows what else. You can see this any time you go surfing amongst "conservatives" blogs (though I really don't recommend you do so).
There is almost nothing like that in Australia. Australians are either too open minded (or too apathetic, which is ironic considering voting is compulsory). I know many people who intensely dislike John Howard, but have never heard anyone anywhere say that we should trust him in everything he does. As I said, people voted for Howard at the 2004 election because they believed in his ability to keep the economy stable, not because they trusted in his vision for the future of Australia.
But the Right and Left wing can be scarcely discernible in Australia. There is no Australian Al Franken or Michael Moore; on the other hand, thank goodness, there is no Australian Ann Coulter. (There are columnists like Piers Akerman, but their influence is not great). People generally aren't that passionate - which means our Prime Minister (and many other politicians and public figures) can go on national television and state their mind, and the interviewers and the rest of the population can freely call them idiots or liars. I often despair at the apathy of my fellow citizens, but if it means I can freely post my mind without being accused of hating Australia, I know which I prefer.
* You'll notice that there are no links for this post. That's because there are certain people mentioned whom I don't want to give referrals to, and I don't feel I should provide references for some things in a post and not others. Anyway, I'm sure we can all do our own research!