Monday, 9 August 2010

So what's so ghoulish about Mark Latham becoming - if only for a week or a season - a journalist? Surely members of parliament have the right to re-enter the workforce once a party decides they are past their used-by dates?

Laurie Oakes, as pre-eminent as they come his side of the mocrophones, says that Latham doesn't know "where the line is" and lashed out at his own employer - Channel Nine - which has put Latham on the payroll, after the ex-Opposition leader confronted the current PM on the hustings in typically forthright style.

Latham is also "full of bile", we're told by Oakes - who's always sanguine, as we know. So sanguine that his broadcast sign-off makes him sound as though he's morphing into a neighbouring time zone. But Latham is a different type of ghoul, according to Oakes.

The trouble is that I am not sure Mark Latham knows where the line is. He's not a journalist; he's still full of bile and settling old scores. I don't really think it does 60 Minutes or the network much of a favour really to have him posing as a journalist.

But why should this make any difference? A lot of parliamentarians - at both state and federal level - go into private enterprise once they're done their dash on the public stage. Many go to work at banks, where their inside knowledge of the way governments run is an asset. Banks do business with governments as much as, say in America, do defense contractors.

Latham published a book after he retired from politics. It, too, was lambasted as bilious. He was aggressive when serving the public, most famously when he almost shook the prime minister's hand off when they met by accident at a radio studio.

It's Latham's schtick. Surely, if that's what he's good at, he can do as good a job as a journo as the next bloke. Journalists are known for their aggro, after all. We see it during press conferences. You know? The guy with a question who makes everything he says sound like an accusation of some public scandal.

So let Latham do his schtick and let's just enjoy it. After all, he may even become practised at it and then spend the next fifteen years at his computer keyboard railing against the machinations of the faceless men behind the scenes. It might even be refreshing to see their faces from time to time. It may even improve our democracy.

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