The Liberal Legacy on Obama: an Embarrassment for Abbott
President Obama’s visit to Australia this week spurs memories of a most extraordinary intervention in American politics by an Australian Prime Minister, that of John Howard in February 2007. The former Liberal PM said that a victory for Obama would be a victory for al-Qaeda.
I remember being astonished by the fiercely partisan nature of Prime Minister Howard’s comments.
I think all of Australia was shocked. It was an extraordinary intervention in a US election.
The attack was made just after Barack Obama formally launched his bid for the Democratic candidacy. It was presumably based on Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq.
If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.
Senator Obama defended himself against the attack from Down Under, accusing Mr Howard of “cowboy rhetoric”. He used the killer fact: that America had 140,000 troops in Iraq and Mr Howard had deployed 1,400. He said:
So if he is…to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and send them to Iraq, otherwise its just a bunch of empty rhetoric.
FOX News ran the banner: “Australian PM: Terrorists will hope for Obama victory”. It probably gave Australian Liberals the impression they were helping their Republican friends.
Tony Abbott of course was a member of the cabinet of John Howard and the Prime Minister’s pin-up boy. Safe bet that he was urging him on during this little episode of foreign policy flamboyance. Of course Abbott would have an even more pronounced identification with the right of American politics, with Bachmann, Perry, Cain and Gingrich. Obama – distasteful in the extreme to the Abbott view of the world.