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The Bernardi Blaze and Bait

Oh look! Here comes Cory Bernadi again! You know him, treatment right?

He’s the guy who looks as though his hair was copied (inexpertly) from the pages of SalonSENSE Hair Trade magazine circa 1987.

He’s the guy from whom you can’t unglue you eyes because … because … he’s just so SHINY.

Shiny Conservative Cory. His party brings him out when they need a interstitial; a bright break from the the main act of Raise The Debt Ceiling Even Though We Said We Wouldn’t. He’s a saloon bar specialty who sings The Lambeth Walk out his bottom. And as he honks his reeking song, pharmacy someone removes things like PBS entitlements, physician public education funding and dead bodies from the stage.

He’s the guy with whom many in my nation are arguing today.

I’m not even going to call those enjoying their reactions to Bernardi “The Left” anymore. They shall henceforth be known as “Andrea”.


Pronounced with an “A” as in “ARmy” of “ARduous ARseholes”, I have renamed the “Left” after everybody’s least favourite character in Beverly Hills 90210.

All Women Must Fight As One in Broderie Anglaise

All Women Must Fight As One in Broderie Anglaise

Andrea is gullible, sensitive and enjoys wearing cheesecloth. She is editor of the West Beverly Blaze; poorly written “progressive” news for classmates with whom she already agrees.

Today, Andrea is interested in Cory.

Behold this demi-Andrea effort from a “progressive” News Ltd employee who sasses Bernardi a little ( but does not bother to do her 90210 homework to the degree she would know that (a) no the question of the moment of conception is not, as she offers “the crux of the matter” in abortion debate but an ontological side-dish and (b) that Bernardi’s claims that abortion rates are on the rise are not founded in fact.)

But. You know. Whatever. Chick got clicks and looked like she cared.

And that’s the most important thing, Andrea Zuckerman: to care.

Just in case Andrea had a moment not caring and chanced to consider actual policy instead, the Coalition wheeled out Bernardi. A never-to-be-promoted irrelevance.

He spouts a load of evangelical barrel-scraping at a pitch unheard by middle Australia but enjoyed absolutely by an Andrea now so busy writing righteous SLASH emotional status updates about HER EXPERIENCES to a chorus of YOU GO GIRL™ that Government can resume doing whatever it likes without the bother of its opponents looking at anything. Just at a book written by a man devoid of charisma, professional hope or any chance of getting his lunacy passed into law.

He’ll open his mouth and produce responses like this:

or this

or this

which manage to be every bit as asininely wedded to the idea of Good Moral Character as Bernardi is in his peculiar religious mania.

Atheist Andrea believes not only in her own good but in the same simple cause-and-effect arrangement of evil as Bernardi,

Politicians should not utter policy lest it be “triggering”. Because State Circle is actually the demarcation for a Feminist Safe Space, apparently. Suspend parliamentary privilege and ensure all potentially triggering topics are discussed away from our ears. Because. You know. TRIGGERING.

This is how progressives respond to bait, now: just as Andrea would. Upright. Girlish. Noble and always ready for a scandal. And in hopeless chorus.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass

Andrea is saying nothing. She can’t. Because Bernardi is not a scandal. This is not a scandal? ? ? this is what must be said at all costs. This is not a scandal.

Of Watergate, the watershed scandal, Baudrillard reminds us how scandal now appears in politics. At intervals frequent enough to maintain the illusion that scandal is still possible; the purpose of today’s Bernardi scandal is to bury the real scandal which, as it happens, is that there is no scandal.

No scandal. Just a big, monstrous liberal democracy gnawing on one’s rights. Quietly.

Formerly one worked to conceal scandal—today one works to conceal that there is none“. There is no scandal. That is the scandal.

Here comes Cory and here comes a defence against his impotent jabbering about things like “family” and “god” and a range of twaddle middle-Australia has long since popped in the charity bin.  And here comes the “Left” treating him with a reflexive earnestness.

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

That we have not yet begun to recognise the purpose of that dependable con is peculiar. Is it that we enjoy boasting about the number of Bachelor Degrees and Gifted Children we have despite him? Is it that Bernardi is so faltering and poor in his speech and argument he is easy sport? Or, are we really that stupid?

Here comes Cory and yet you still do not recognise his approach. He is ready with a “Global warming is a lie written by those who would turn our nation into a a Politically Correct Sharia Law and Communist Lesbian Bouncy Castle”. You respond with an outpouring like “Love makes a family!” or “I love homosexuals”.

You both look like dills.

Look. The guy just doesn’t seem very bright and I suggest that everybody knows it. Everyone except, of course, Andrea. He said the same idiot thing he always says about Politically Correct Homosexual Foetus Killers. It is not a scandal. “This is what must be said at all costs“.

In saying that this is not a scandal but a simulation of a scandal is not also to say that there will not be an attack on women’s reproductive rights; although I imagine this will take the form more of a slow withering of subsidised services that out-and-out ban. But it is to say that Bernardi, the poor back-benched thing, will not be its architect.

The response to this imagined scandal feels great, of course. And when one does, as one should, have a feeling of dread in considering the intractable maze of liberal democracy, a cry of SCANDAL and a boast about one’s blind musician children and multiple degrees and lesbian parentage and trigger warnings seems like a legitimate response.

But it isn’t. Because our rights will not be taken by Bernardi and they will not be taken all at once.

They will go slowly. And as they go, we will have our Shiny Fake Cory scandals all concealing the one political scandal left: there can be no more scandals. Just a slow withering that one cannot see in a silly man’s misstep any more than one can see a flowering of hope in social media updates that boast of one’s good, lesbian, musical character.

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper*.

My advice is to listen for the whimper. Not the bang.

*Yes I totally know Eliot had a dodgy reputation. Fuck you. I don’t care. This poem is the awesome.

19 Responses to “The Bernardi Blaze and Bait”

  1. Diane says:

    It was a Julia Prophesy.
    And lo she said, ‘The Men in the ties of blue will come, and with your abortions they will play’.

  2. CAP says:

    Perhaps it is not possible to kill a multi headed beast and get to the heart without lopping off a few heads first. Maybe unless you remove the potency of some of it’s revolting heads (the Pynes and Bernadis) then you don’t really make headway. Rarely is a game of strategy won by going straight for the heart of the whole opponent on it’s home turf while fully armed. Whittling them down so their outside forces can’t support them is generally more lengthy but more effective. So what does this little waltz down fantasy game lane tell us. You are both right (You and Andrea). If people aimlessly run around fighting shadows of the problem generally the libs just regroup. But going straight for their heart is generally too big to win (which in this scenario translates as it’s too complex for people to see past all the policies into the heart of what these policies mean for Australia as a whole as the masses are pretty detached from politics). My thoughts are we need both the Helen’s and Andrea’s. The Bernardi’s and the Pyne’s are examples of how if you can get the masses to actually give a shit about politics, they’ll do things so revolting it penetrates into popular culture and people actually then care about it. Whether it’s irrelevant or not, it makes people hate the LNP and that can never be a bad result. Generally politics is a very dry debate that has nothing to do with the latest GoT’s episode, and unless we bring in dragons and lots of nudity, our politics wont rate a mention next to that show (Eww AusPol in the buff, is there anything more disturbing?). Bernardi is doing us a favour by being so revolting, people have a reason to watch the car wreck that is the LNP and might start seeing more. If we are lucky, while their interest is piked and the Helens of the world can hopefully enlighten people to the fact that the Capitalist machine where Corporations become more powerful than government and the dismantling of unions leads us to a world where workers are pretty much in indentured servitude and people are simply products corporations use until they run them into the ground. Which is pretty for no-one except the Gina’s, Clive’s and Rupert’s of the world… and frankly is a bit unbalanced having the backs of billions supporting the truly gluttonous lifestyles of a handful of billionaires. Still Andrea’s work is valid as some people are vulnerable to complete douchebags such such as Bernardi.

    This is what I see as the true problem with politics in Aus these days. We should all be ganging up on the LNP. Everyone except maybe Fred Nile who is possibly the secret Wizard behind the curtain of OZ. But what we have is a situation where people who want the LNP gone fight each other more than they fight the LNP. Everyone wants so badly to prove that they are not Labor/Green and that they hate the other, and anyone else that is not them too, that while they are trying to prove this they forget the multi-headed beast to slay is the LNP. So, I don’t care if people fight the heads or if they fight the system (body), as long as they are not wasting precious time fighting each other, that could be spent fighting the real enemy. I don’t care if people’s big issue for hating the LNP is Bernardi or either of the Bishops, or how they express it. As long as we are all fighting the same enemy, lets stop wounding and picking on each other for a bit and accept that in any war there are lots of different divisions with lots of different techniques, and whether you think they are as useful as your division or not is irrelevant. What is most important is that they focus on the fight and stop attacking each other, and gather as many recruits as they can with whatever bait works. War isn’t pretty there is no noble clean way to do it. Fight dirty, fight hard…. but make sure you’re fighting the Government not the neighbours.

    • Helen Razer says:

      I fear you didn’t read my piece and I fear you missed the bit where I said that I am opposed to Bernardi (who wouldn’t be?) but I believe those who think he is “scandalous” are not offering opposition.
      There IS no opposition. Only opposition to an imaginary scandal.

      • CAP says:

        Let your fears be allayed I read it all. I get your point. I think you can hold as much contempt for shadow fights as you like. I’d still rather you wrote about the crappiness of the government and it’s bid for further privatisation, because I think you can, I’d be interested in your thoughts, and I think that you fighting the guys fighting shadows is like fighting shadows of shadows, and little bit ironic or weird. I’ll be expecting more from you than those who focus on the buttons like Bernardi’s book. Not fair I know, I should treat all blogs equally, but I’m afraid you’ve proven yourself to have a brain over the years so I look forward to you dismantling all things government related rather than feigning punches at Andrea feigning punches.

        • Helen Razer says:

          I think emboldening the Left to think is an important thing to do. I am not a leader or a follower. I just see patterns and I am writing them down.

          • CAP says:

            Well I hope you write about the “pattern” of the Right to privatise and claim they’ve fixed the budget, when we are really at a loss of assets capable of making us money to cover public service costs, and so the only place for the government to get money is through taxes… which they invariably take from people not companies (What a boon for companies, below cost infrastructure sold to them by Coalition mates and lower taxes). Driving us ever further into class division and an unbridgeable gap between rich and poor. It was the Howard pattern and looks to be the Abbott pattern… but to be fair it was the Keating pattern too. Lets face it though – he was a Liberal plant if ever there was one.

            • Helen Razer says:

              You keep saying: we all need to be on the same side.
              I am now as I long have been a social statist and cultural libertarian. Everything I right is informed by these beliefs.
              I sort of figure Guy Rundle has your needs covered. My job (and I have discussed its value with Guy and others) is to encourage the Left to remember what it’s all about.
              I know you are trying to find fault with what I’m writing because you think I am a Splitter and it doesn’t really trouble me. I believe a movement that examines itself is a healthy movement. I am striving only to offer a look at the tools that people might use to get themselves out of a fap-cycle that does nothing but ensure the primacy of capital.

              • CAP says:

                I’m not trying to find fault in your writing but trying to find out what it is you think about things that are not “imaginary scandal” to you; relating to the Right. I’d like to hear your observations about the Right and what you think it means for society. You have an audience. If most of us write a blog we are lucky if our mum sneaks a read.

                You have a way of biting down on issues as well as making people laugh. I’d like to see you sling a little dung at all sides really. Keep critiquing the left as is your desire but I’d just like to see you throw some dung the other way while your at it. I think both serve as a reminder.

                • Helen Razer says:

                  Please stop this.
                  I am explaining what I dislike about liberal democracy.
                  I do not like a lot about liberal democracy.
                  In critiquing liberal democracy, I am critiquing the “right”. Because you identify the right as inhering more in a particular party of persons does not mean I cannot choose to see it as being something more diffuse. Which I do.
                  I think the self-identified “left” is part of the “right” by bolstering the worst of liberal democracy.
                  I write about that. I write about what I do not like in liberal democracy. I do not try to convert right people to a leftist way of thinking. I see my gig as converting leftists to leftism. They’re doing a bang-up job of maintaining things as they are: trickle-up prosperity.
                  Again. There are other people writing about federal affairs from a left wing perspective. Lenore Taylor does a good job. Read her. Don’t expect me to ever write that stuff.
                  Please stop this. Maybe re-read my piece and see how much critique there is of capitalism in there?

  3. Dave M says:

    Tony has today likened asylum seeker policy to being at war. Easy big fella. You’ll get a chance to murder and pillage somewhere in your PM ship I can guarantee it. No right thinking person is going to deny you the chance to get in a bit of practice stomping on women and children in the meantime though.

    • Helen Razer says:

      Current policies for those seeking asylum are cruel, complex and intractable. I can barely believe what Morrison has enacted.
      But not sure why you mention it here, Dave?

      • Dave M says:

        I mention it because while we are looking at the non scandal of Bernardi there is serious bastardry being committed in our name. Is asylum seeker policy a scandal in your opinion.? Also, you had a good go at people for hating Mirabella, I am one of them and I do take your point, but if we don’t zero in and expose the Mirabellas, Cormans and the Bernardis of this world for the grubs that they are then they sleaze on to run submarine corporations and become finance and education ministers and the like. All of these roles have the potential to do long term, serious damage to people.

        • Helen Razer says:

          It is not second tier slop like Mirabella that enables power to proceed in its anonymity.
          In fact, one of the things that does allow capitalism to eat everything is the mistaken belief that individuals rule the world.
          Systems collapse into being. If it were not Mirabella, it would be someone else. For you to believe, Dave?, that you are “exposing” Mirabella or Bernardi when stupidity has been discussed for years really sort of gives weight to my assertion that scandal functions to make people feel like they’re doing something to oppose power. When actually, you’re just stabilizing power in believing that Mirabella and Bernardi are business as usual.
          Want to know whose extraordinary interests in capital have more of an impact? Malcolm Turnbull. But because this fuck seems nice, we believe there is nothing to expose.
          Of course I’m appalled by the department of immigration. But the scandal is the atrocities are no longer considered scandal. The scandal is we feel a bit of jumping up and down about tampons is sufficient.
          Feels good. Like hating Mirabella. Feels good to look everywhere (even at me) for people to blame. idiots of the Coalition. Might actuality get us somewhere.
          Pointless, though. 225 years of bloody racist history and wealth has been leading to current immigration practice. Look that in the face. It’s not as much fun as hating the marginalized

          • Dave M says:

            The second tier slop props up the first tier grubs like Turnbull and for that matter Rudd. I’ve never thought Turnbull was anything more than a grubby exploiter in a nice suit. There is enough dirt on him to fill a bathtub but, as you say, no one ever goes after him because he seems nice. If I was fooled by the ones that look nice I’d have pictures of Michaela Cash on my walls. I certainly would never blame you for the dire lack of thought and analysis in our country. You’ve helped me think more objectively for years but I get the 225 years thing because I’ve lived in a remote community in the NT for 40 years, still do, and have witnessed industrial strength exploitation and racism on a daily basis. While us Andreas are watching Bernardi we aren’t noticing how quiet Scullion has been since he took over the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio. What’s coming is 100 year leases on traditional lands and blackfellas being made fringe dwellers on their own land. It wont be a scandal because it will be done slowly and stealthily but it will be catastrophic for the poor and great for the rich.

  4. Geoff Berry says:

    Relisten to Leonard Cohen “Everybody Knows.” Consensus trance seems to be ruling over rational self-reflection.
    We all know there Is no scandal, no spectacle left; just capital’s grand smoke and mirrors illusion.
    We’re just not ready to admit it to ourselves, yet, because we still profit too much from our self-induced (or at least accepted) apathy. Thanks Helen.

  5. Chloe says:

    Totally agree, the Libs need to stir up a little harmless moral outrage from the moderate left while they go to hack on jobs, education, unions and healthcare. Having said that, hate figures are useful for building social movements and i’m sure few people doubt Bernardi is any more socially conservative than Abbott. Abbott just knows what to keep to himself (mostly). In the same way, Hanson was able to drive a harder racist line that was useful for Howard. Being surrounded by lunatics has the effect of making you look pragmatic.

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