Looking back on US President Barack Obama’s two critiques of Australian policy during the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Australians are entitled to be a little ashamed.
An embarrassing kind of shame, like having to witness the expected but unbearably childish bickering between members of the extended family coming together for an unavoidably obligatory Christmas lunch.
This is not an embarrassment about the specifics of Obama’s rebukes, but of being so easily exposed to the world as inadequate, yet obdurately fustian.
Perhaps the most telling absence in Derbyshire’s essay was a consideration of the fundamentals in a healthy democracy: well-led parties opposing each other effectively on policy matters to promote robust debate and the emergence of better policy than would accrue from no debate, or discussion by pedestrian intellects only. I forgive Derbyshire’s omission for reasons of brevity and on-topic focus, but it is nevertheless a suitable starting point here.
On the day of Barack Obama’s re-election, one of the Australian commentators in the local election coverage was former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who made a characteristically acerbic and yet irresistibly accurate observation: there are no great leaders anywhere in the world at this time.