25 June 2010
When you boil down the many and complex reasons for the demise of our once most popular PM, it comes down to one simple fact. Kevin Rudd is a true nerd. This was his fatal flaw.
After attending North Sydney Boys High - a nerd Mecca - I know a nerd when I see one. And Kevin Rudd is a true nerd.
I'm certainly not a jock. But I'm also not a true nerd.
A lot of people are wrongly accused of being nerds. And in recent years, pop culture has somewhat embraced the image of the nerd. (Think Napoleon Dynamite or The Big Bang Theory) It's prompted some misguided souls to dress in 'nerdy' clothes and even falsely claim that they are true nerds.
But being a nerd is not about daggy clothes. It's not about dandruff, bad breath or glasses. It's not even about being intelligent, although a common nerd trait is a propensity for study.
No, a true nerd is someone with slightly, shall we say, undeveloped social skills. They irk people in an indescribable way - and as such don't pick up friends the same way non-nerds do.
Does the lack of friends cause the nerdiness, or visa versa? Like chickens and eggs, it's impossible to know for sure.
In 2007, when "geek-cool" was at its zenith, Rudd was then man for the times. A policy wonk, who beat a solitary path to the leadership without any assistance from the factions, unions, big business or even powerful political friends. An ultra-intelligent, workaholic idealist.
Being a loner enabled him to take a truly fresh stance on issues like climate change, border protection and the apology to the stolen generation. After John Howard, Australians loved what they saw and rewarded Rudd handsomely, first with the Prime Ministership, then with a record breaking honeymoon period.
Being a nerd made Kevin Rudd. But it was also his undoing.
One thing about real nerds, is that, when you get to know them - they can get on your nerves. I know from experience, to make friends with a true nerd, you often have to continually remind yourself, "He's a nerd - but he's a good person and a friend." It's not always easy and for most people, impossible. I call just a few true nerds friends, but I've had lots of practice.
From early on, within the Labor party, Kevin Rudd always seemed to make more enemies than friends - though his wider popularity got him through. From a distance a nerd is relatively easy to like - or at least tolerate. But close up, many senior public servants found him to be bad tempered, disrespectful, often late to meetings and ultimately a little unlikable. These are classic traits of a nerd.
For Kevin Rudd, as the public got to know him more and more - his likability index dropped. Even though he his heart was pure and he worked immensely hard - many in voter-land just didn't like his style. He was tolerated because he was getting things done, but his nerdiness got on people's nerves. And herein lies the problem.
A Prime Minister must be able to lead.
It was easy enough to sign Kyoto and make the apology. People had been crying out for years - and they were simple enough to do.
But a more complex issue like an ETS or tax reform needs someone who'll carry the people with them.
And this, a nerd just cannot do.
So when Kevin Rudd failed to convince the people about his major reforms, he had to backflip. And the one thing that enamours nerds with the wider population, is that they often get things done, and well.
When Rudd backflipped, the people turned. It's cruel - but it's playground stuff. The nerd is tolerated - but when they do something wrong, the mob turns and it's stacks on the mill with said nerd at the bottom.
With Rudd's popularity dangerously low, those he'd rubbed up the wrong way in the Labor Party, were ready with sharpened knives and he was ruthlessly cut down.
Being a nerd doesn't for a minute make him Kevin Rudd a bad person, or even a bad Prime Minister, but it caused his demise, just as it led him to power.
Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been approved.