Tony Abbott's spin on the de Niro catchphrase reveals the depths to which we have sunk, writes Anthony Ashbolt. Like Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, Abbott turned to his sparring partner and said, in an admittedly less than menacing voice, “Does this guy ever shut up?” Abbott’s tame version of “You talkin’ to me?” sent a jarring note through the debate on Wednesday night and was a reminder of the lack of civility in politics I discussed in my first blog. This is simply not the stuff of genuine debate and in an ordinary contest might have sent Abbott and the Coalition reeling. Judging by Morgan opinion polls in western Sydney reported this morning it had no such effect and, rather, bolstered the claims of some journalists that focus groups had clearly told Liberal advisors that an intervention like this from Abbott would go down well with the electorate. Rudd, the focus groups feel, tends towards verbosity and his wordiness helps switch people off.