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Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Credlin thing - The AIM Network

The Credlin thing - The AIM Network

The Credlin thing

Is Peta Credlin really to blame for all the government’s woes? And should the buck stop with her? Jennifer Wilson reports.

I don’t get all this Murdoch-inspired hoo haa about Peta Credlin, the Prime Minister’s embattled Chief of Staff.

Ms Credlin has been in the spotlight ever since her boss was Opposition Leader.

Remember how her IVF journey was so thoroughly
manipulated as to become “evidence” for Abbott’s “compassion” for
women?  Ms Credlin gave generous media interviews about this most
personal of experiences, and never once mentioned her partner in the
journey, her husband, Brian Loughnane. Instead, it was entirely about
how her boss was helping her by keeping her eggs in his fridge. I can’t
think of any other situation that compares, in which a Chief of Staff so
publicly reveals her or his private life for the sole purpose of
 helping her or his boss win an election.

It was Abbott’s apparent unpopularity with women voters that provoked
the Credlin IVF pieces. It was intended to portray him as a softie with
the ladies, as was hauling out his three daughters who giggled on cue
about their lovely churchy dad.

I may have a limited imagination, but I find it hard to visualise a
male chief of staff being so forthcoming as was Credlin about his
personal life, in order to make his boss more popular with the voters.

It therefore makes a kind of bizarre sense that when things go as
badly wrong as they have for Abbott, ridding himself of Credlin is seen
as the first move that might lead to some kind of improvement. It won’t,
of course, because the man is beyond all help, but they have to try
something as they aren’t ready to replace him. Yet. May they continue
not to be. He is the ALP’s best asset.

As far as Ms Credlin is concerned, the situation sucks. She obviously
isn’t responsible for the numerous outstandingly appalling decisions
the Abbott government has attempted to inflict on an electorate that
trusted them to behave in entirely different ways. It is, of course,
impossible to know what her input has been into these decisions,
nevertheless, Abbott has taken them, and being above Ms Credlin in the
chain of command, is entirely responsible for them. With great power
cometh great responsibility.

There was a period in which Ms Credlin and Mr Abbott were
photographed so frequently together on occasions when one would have
expected Mrs Abbott to be at her husband’s side rather than his Chief of
Staff, that prurient speculation as to the nature of their relationship
was rife. It has today been suggested that Mr Abbott is “psychologically dependent
on Ms Credlin. (That link may be paywalled, but it may not. I did my
best). Psychological dependency on another person can be a problem,
especially for a political leader. It can cloud his or her judgement,
and lead him or her to become deafened to other points of view.

We cannot, of course, escape the gender issue in this latest
government drama. Is Ms Credlin easier to scapegoat because she’s a
woman? It was her gender that was exploited in Abbott’s election
campaign, and nobody much complained about it then, least of all Ms
Credlin. Female gender was exploited to gain Abbott votes. Female gender
will be exploited again if it is considered to be a factor in losing
Abbott votes.

When a man is an idiot, blaming the woman behind and beside him is a
common default position. There is in our culture a pervasive belief that
women are responsible for controlling men in almost every situation one
can think of, and this belief could well be at work in the Credlin
situation. Of course, we women aren’t and can’t be responsible for what
men do, and the sooner we all divest ourselves of that mythology the

I have suddenly remembered footage of Wendi Deng hurling herself in
front of her then husband Rupert Murdoch at the News of the World
hacking hearings, when somebody attempted to assault him with a cream
pie. Sometimes we ladies are our own worst enemies.

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog No Place for Sheep.