Down with clever

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Last updated on August 5th, 2017 at 03:59 pm

Labor leader Kevin Rudd, four years ago:

John Howard’s been used to being told by commentators what a clever politician he is …”

These days Howard is being told the same thing by Rudd and other Labor anti-cleverists:

• Kevin Rudd, October 2006: “Mr Howard is a clever politician …”

• Kevin Rudd, January 11 2007: “That’s part and parcel of Mr Howard’s clever leadership style, his clever political style … It’s time Mr Howard, who’s a very clever politician, stops playing games …”

• Labor’s Tony Burke, February 7: “John Howard is a very clever politician …”

• Labor’s Wayne Swan, February 12: “Elections are always close in this country and we know that John Howard is a clever politician and a vicious street fighter.”

• Kevin Rudd, February 26:  “Mr Howard is the most clever politician I think this country has produced …”

• Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, March 5: “People have always said John Howard was a clever politician …”

• Kevin Rudd, April 10: “Mr Howard is the most clever politician that Australian politics has ever seen …”

• Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard, April 22:  “When John Howard confronts a political problem he is a clever politician. “

• Labor senator Chris Evans, April 23:  “John Howard’s a very clever politician …”

• Kevin Rudd, April 29: “Mr Howard is the most clever politician this country has seen in a generation …”

• Kevin Rudd, April 30: “I’m up against a very clever politician who is my opponent …”

• Julia Gillard, May 1: “Mr Howard of course is the clever politician.”

• Kevin Rudd, May 2: “We’re up against the most clever politician in the country.”

• Laborite Kim, May 2: “Let’s never forget, folks, Mr Howard is a clever politician.”

• And Chris Sheil, late to the party, May 4: “He’s a clever politician, our prime minister.”

So “clever” is bad now? It was good during Labor’s reign:

Bob Hawke opened the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra in 1988 declaring the need for Australia to become the “clever country”.

Mission accomplished, then, if Howard’s critics are any guide. Last year Julia Gillard was challenged (by an animation) over her opposition to Howard’s cleverness:

Gillard: “He’s a clever politician, that’s not necessarily a compliment.”

Tench: “Why, are you a dumb one?”

Posted by Tim B. on 05/05/2007 at 02:13 PM
    1. Gillard: Yes…err,no..I mean that Howard applies political pressure and manipulates the context of an issue in ways I can’t begin to understand. It’s not fair that he’s won 4 elections straight and looking good for a 5th, when I’m such a facile fool with delusions of grandeur.

      Posted by CB on 2007 05 05 at 02:35 PM • permalink


    1. Wish we had a clever politician up in the states :(.

      Posted by blogagog on 2007 05 05 at 02:36 PM • permalink


    1. Kevni is referrred to by the MSM as intelligent, but Howard is ‘clever’.

      Leave it to clever …

      Posted by egg_ on 2007 05 05 at 03:04 PM • permalink


    1. Clever is the new evil…Labor’s education manifesto?

      Posted by mareeS on 2007 05 05 at 03:28 PM • permalink


    1. This reminds me too much of the anti-Semitic use of the word clever.

      Posted by Birkel on 2007 05 05 at 05:15 PM • permalink


    1. Yeah, “clever” seems always to have a less than honorable connotation when used by the left. Seems like the “diabolically” qualifier is always implied.

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2007 05 05 at 05:37 PM • permalink


    1. Kevin Rudd, April 30: “I’m up against a very clever politician who is my opponent …”

      …..I am also the manager of the Department of Redundancy Department.
      Good job nobody seems to have accused Kevni of being clever.

      Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2007 05 05 at 05:55 PM • permalink


    1. When my Mum called me a “clever little bugger”, I knew from her tone that she was not praising me and I have avoided using the word unless I mean “tricky”. EG, as in clever dick.
      AFAIK, clever was originally used exclusively as a pejorative word.
      Included in its current meanings are:
      4. superficially smart or bright; facile.
      5. sly; cunning.
      These meanings are probably hangovers from its original usage and no doubt the ones meant by the left when describing Howard.
      It’s difficult to couple any adjective to the noun politician without creating a pejorative phrase.

      Posted by Skeeter on 2007 05 05 at 06:16 PM • permalink


    1. When I read this, I recall hearing the use of “clever” in ironical ways in Oz.

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2007 05 05 at 06:28 PM • permalink


    1. Well the left usually believes that it’s ideological opponents are dumb, so Howard must be off the scale for them to acknowledge his intelligence.

      Posted by Ross on 2007 05 05 at 06:30 PM • permalink


    1. #7
      The Rudder guilty of tautology?

      I taut I taw a clever opponent

      Posted by egg_ on 2007 05 05 at 06:41 PM • permalink


    1. #8 sexy politician sounds all right to me. It doesn’t matter if you have no scruples in bed.

      Not that there’s too many of them around (sigh)

      Posted by JonathanH on 2007 05 05 at 07:01 PM • permalink


    1. Obviously a campaign strategy by Rudd’s PR team. Say it enough times and eventually (they hope) the electorate equates Howard with clever=shifty, etc.

      Posted by Abu Chowdah on 2007 05 05 at 07:15 PM • permalink


    1. Perhaps pixie & butch are a tad jealous?

      Posted by surfmaster on 2007 05 05 at 07:35 PM • permalink


    1. Rudd doesn’t seem too clever.

      Posted by aaron_ on 2007 05 05 at 07:39 PM • permalink


    1. Maybe Rudd is clever, it just doesn’t seem like it cuz Howard is so super clever.

      Posted by aaron_ on 2007 05 05 at 07:46 PM • permalink


    1. As suggested by Rudd.

      Posted by aaron_ on 2007 05 05 at 07:47 PM • permalink


    1. Now there’s a winning promise for the election campaign.
      “A federal Labor government will eliminate cleverness from politics – just as Labor governments have done at the state level.”
      Yep, that’s going to swing with the voters for sure. Go Kevni!

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 05 05 at 07:54 PM • permalink


    1. It’s ironic how Kevin is more Liberal than Labor. Kevni is very rich and is no union man at all.

      Both have daughters who are lawyers, married. I’m trying to think of other similarities.

      Posted by 1.618 on 2007 05 05 at 07:59 PM • permalink


      Just imagine for a second-Julia taking the reins for whatever reason, other than the toasting fork in Kevs back- Nope cannot imagine her dealing with world leaders.

      Posted by Hillyminx on 2007 05 05 at 08:21 PM • permalink


    1. It’s such A Fine Line.

      Posted by Thomas on 2007 05 05 at 08:36 PM • permalink


    1. As Tim points out, this is a tactic Labor pollies have been using for a while. I’ve never understood it. The insinuation, of course, is that Howard is devious and dececeptive.

      So why not just say that?

      Sadly, this is further evidence of the non confrontational style of political to and fro these days. Pollies, fear saying anything with even a hint of invective for fear of an electoral backlash.

      During the week Paul Keating described Howard as “lying his face off, every day of the week.” Not a bad way of attacking the integrity of a political opponent.

      Instead Kevvy et al call Howard ‘clever’.

      I really hate the crafted, considered way polticians speak these days. If it wasn’t for Bill Heffernan, we’d have all pollies calling a spade a metalic tool for use in excavations, utilised by but not limited to the construction and farming industries.


      Posted by Racing on 2007 05 05 at 09:36 PM • permalink


    1. The implication is: he’s clever because he can manipulate the dumb-arse masses.
      That’s what they mean.

      Posted by daddy dave on 2007 05 05 at 10:16 PM • permalink


    1. The implication is: he’s clever because he can manipulate the dumb-arse masses.

      *grits teeth* “Lucky bastards…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2007 05 05 at 10:38 PM • permalink


    1. Ha ha, lucky Rudd isn’t up against the clueist (had to be a word) bloke around) Feminist Thriller

      Posted by Jamie-Reardon on 2007 05 05 at 10:39 PM • permalink


    1. Julia is not the sharpest red pencil in the pack….

      Posted by crash on 2007 05 06 at 12:11 AM • permalink


    1. People who are really clever don’t say “most clever” (Rudd April 29, May2), they say cleverest.

      Posted by chrisgo on 2007 05 06 at 01:46 AM • permalink


    1. Labor’s Wayne Swan… “Elections are always close in this country and we know that John Howard is a clever politician and a vicious street fighter.”

      Yes, I believe Martin Scorsese has bought the rights to his life story.

      No danger of Tanya Plibersek being labelled a clever politician.

      Posted by monaro on 2007 05 06 at 02:01 AM • permalink


    1. To bastardise Churchill:

      “My dear lady, in the morning, I will still be clever, and unfortunately for you, you will still be a bloodnut”.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2007 05 06 at 02:01 AM • permalink


    1. What Labor needs in order to win are mandatory cleverness offsets.

      Posted by PW on 2007 05 06 at 08:57 AM • permalink


    1. #27
      Can Rudder surmount cleverest?

      Posted by egg_ on 2007 05 06 at 10:05 AM • permalink


    1. #23
      A new incarnation of the “mean and tricky” label that they used to try to pin on Peter Costello as treasurer in the past

      Posted by egg_ on 2007 05 06 at 10:54 AM • permalink


    1. Since clever is apparently a bad thing now, I will henceforth refer to my cat as “ruddy” when he gets lost under the bedcovers from now on…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2007 05 06 at 04:48 PM • permalink


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