Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Peter Breen's Cranial Trouser Cough

There's a phrase - possibly coined by Britney Spears, as she's the first person I ever heard use it - which instantly sprang to mind when considering the misadventures of Peter Breen MLC today. However, this blog is far too sophisticated and highbrow to use the phrase `brain fart'. It's a rather less delicate way of expressing the notion of the `thought bubble', which is rapidly gaining favor in the political vocabulary, to define a controversial or just plain silly opinion expressed without warning by a politician who really should have known better and will now feel the wrath of his or her embarrassed party.

In retrospect, Breen should never have been a member of any mainstream party. He's exactly the sort of strongly opinionated, loose cannon, champion-of-the-underdog sort of politician that appeals to supporters of independents. Apply that formula to the political discipline required by a mainstream party - let alone the ruling party - and you've got disaster. As an independent, part of your mandate is to come out with left-of-field comments and opinions. You are only ever representing yourself; not a government and not a party, and any influence you will have will be to nibble at the edges of mainstream policy. Being a member of a party, and representative not only of your constituents but the principles held by that party, is a whole new ball game. This is something that Breen clearly didn't understand.

Of course, Breen is entirely free to hold the views he does, and therefore I think Police Minister Carl Scully was unwise to say Breen's book `belonged in the bin'. Nevertheless, his apparent surprise at the outcry - which would have occurred regardless of what party he was or wasn't in - was in itself quite astounding. He must have been naive indeed to assume that his opinions and the way he expressed them would not eventually end up as a tailormade Outrage of the Day for the likes of the Daily Telegraph and Ray Hadley. At his later press conference, he initially appeared to misconstrue the furore as being that his comments may have been perceived as homoerotic, and then complained that attention was only being paid to the case because Janine Balding's mother had `gone troppo'.

If that's not forehead smacking, fist chomping, eye clenching brain flatulence, I don't know what is.

Morris Iemma has received widespread praise for expelling Breen from the party, but - to use another hated political cliche - the takeaway from this is that the idea of wooing independents to help shore up numbers may have been a bit of a brain fart in itself.

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