*This thing I wrote was in a few newspapers today. Clearly the death knell for the industry.
Popular political leaders are a thing of the past.
I understand all leaders require a level of popularity to reach such lofty heights, but in terms of a widespread societal embrace — those days are done.
Take Tony Abbott — long before he emerged victorious against
Julia Gillard Kevin Rudd, Abbott was widely disdained by a vocal segment of the population.
A Facebook page, “Tony Abbott — Worst PM in Australian History,” was created on March 23 last year. Abbott would not become PM until almost six months later.
Such statements of damnation aren’t reserved solely for our political realm, with a recent Politico survey labelled Barack Obama as the worst American president since the end of WWII.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s a pretty big claim to make.
But, one thing both leaders have in common, in addition to their historically low approval level, is that they have had moments of success.
Abbott’s greatest moments in his opening year in charge was arguably his response to the MH370 disappearance — where he swiftly allocated Australia’s available resources to lead the search, once reports emerged the plane may have been located somewhere off the West Australian coast.
Obama helped the US through a catastrophic economic collapse that was largely created by the actions of his immediate predecessor, helped further the marriage equality movement, and introduced an affordable healthcare system that even Republican voters support — so long as it isn’t presented to them as “Obamacare”.
Which begs the question — putting partisan motivation aside, why are both leaders hated with such intensity?
The answer lies in two respective items of clothing — Abbott’s budgie smugglers and Obama’s “mom jeans”.
We see, and know, more of our leaders than ever before. No longer is a politician’s public image entirely the result of a carefully crafted and heavily controlled media management strategy.
In addition, we all have so many more ways to say what we are thinking now, which makes maintaining a likable political image even tougher.
When Abbott famously donned those far-too-tight red speedos in North Sydney, I’m sure he had no idea as to the level of ammunition he was supplying to his opponents and detractors.
The same can be said for Obama when he tossed the first pitch at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star game while wearing a pair of “mom jeans”.
These were ludicrously cited as a reason for increasing Russian aggression in the past few years, with one headline laughably bellowing: “Putin wrestles bear, Obama wears mom jeans.”
Abbott answered countless questions about his swimwear, and the most satirical or critical illustrations of the PM feature them prominently.
Collectively, we dislike politicians because we know more — or maybe, too much. Leaders are, for the most part, seen as real people now, rather than a painstakingly maintained image of what a leader “should” be. We’ve all seen behind the campaign curtain — and as a result, the propagated “cult of personality” has been rebuked.
The way we see politicians will never be the same.