Publication Details

O'Donnell, M. (2013). Political speeches and the illusion of perfect pitch. The Conversation, (07 August)

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The Conversation


Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott’s speechifying at the opening of the Australian War memorial’s Afghanistan Gallery has been reported as a kind of momentary cease-fire between the rival leaders. But it was unmistakably part of the election campaign.

I happened to catch it live on ABC News 24.

Like any ceremony that marks Australian military involvement in America’s wars on terror it was a fundamentally dishonest display hyping “our” sacrifice with barely a mention of the horrific sacrifices of the Afghan civilians. That aside it was instructive.

Mostly it showed quite clearly why Kevin Rudd is popular and Tony Abbott isn’t.

Rudd speaks to his audience. Abbott reads to them.

Rudd stumbles and engages in folksy references. Abbott quotes Dr Johnson.

Rudd looked moved. Abbot looked awkward.