Barack Obama may have left Australian shores bound for the East Asia Summit in Bali, but the Aussies are still basking in the warm glow of his aftermath.
For the most part.
One columnist, writing for Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s website, strikes a notably different chord.
Malcolm Farnsworth, a former high school teacher from Melbourne, expresses frank disgust at the mutual admiration society formed by the Obama and the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
What’s worse, he suggests, is the Australian media’s reaction to nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
“Of course, the spectacle of a presidential visit was lapped up by the Australian media….Air Force One and its cavalcade of vehicles, security and people seemingly overpowers those who report on these things. It is as if the great home ground advantage of the White House travels with the president. Scepticism (sic) and satire are defeated by cringe and awe.”
Looking at some of the coverage, Mr. Farnsworth might have a point. Australia’s longest running broadsheet, the Sydney Morning Herald, produced page after page of uncritical copy, the crowning glory of which was hopefully not an article exhorting Aussies to “Suit up like Barack Obama.” The Australian gushes about the “rapturous send-off” the President got from the people of Darwin. The Sydney-based Telegraph talks of Obama putting Australia at the center of “‘a new world order.”
While it’s pretty clear that Mr. Farnsworth harbors doubts about his Labor Party Prime Minister – comments left by his readers accuse him of flagrant right-wingery – he may well have a point about the true nature of this trip. For Gillard, he says, the “roadshow” was put on to boost flagging domestic popularity. For the Americans, of course, the real aim was securing a strategically important foothold in the Asia Pacific.
The resulting coverage, claims Farnsworth, amounted to nothing more than insulting drivel.