Everybody knows that Trump is a pathological liar1, a conman2,3, a sexual predator4, a racist5, a misogynist6,7, an inarticulate buffoon8, and takes credit for the efforts of others9. He is also clearly a malignant narcissist10,11. The last of these has been clearly demonstrated by his toddler-like refusal to concede he lost the US presidential election. It is indeed fortunate that he has lost the presidential election by a significant margin12 in that it demonstrates that enough people, even many of those left behind by the corrupt system that generates people like Trump, will not stand for such behaviour enough to give the Mango Mussolini a second term.
While many people in Australia have looked on in horror at the crass, malevolent behaviour of Trump and thought ‘it couldn’t happen here’, we are not too far away from it happening. Indeed, some years ago, I likened the narcissistic pathological liar, racist, misogynist and inarticulate buffoon that was Tony Abbott, to the Mango Mussolini13. However, I think he was simply a concatenation of similar idiocies, and not someone who took his methodology from Trump, as he predated Trump by some years. However, we now have a Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who has largely modelled himself on Trump.
Trump’s pathological lying is habitual and often about things which are inconsequential, but Morrison’s lying is not. It is planned, and is designed to bullshit the audience to whom he is speaking, many of whom are naïve enough to take him at face value. His lies are often related to Climate Change14,15, about which he tries to pretend Australia is doing something significant to decrease emissions (it is not).
When Trump is asked a question and doesn’t want to answer, he tends to ramble on incoherently while not answering the question. Morrison is a bit more sophisticated in his responses. Sometimes he will ramble on tangentially (more or less coherently) without actually answering the question. If he does not have the presence of mind to do this, he will avoid answering by uttering such drivel as ‘I do not agree with the premise of your question’, ‘that is a Canberra bubble question’, ‘I have already answered that’, ‘you already have my response to that’, ‘you can editorialise on that…’, or ‘I don’t agree with your characterisation of that’16. Sometimes, when Trump is stumped by his inability to respond to (or perhaps understand) a question, he will simply get up and leave the interview17. Morrison has done the same when things get a little difficult, and the questions get a bit pointed18,19.
Trump is clearly racist and instances of that have been well documented over the years5. Disturbingly, Morrison is also a racist, like so many in the Liberal Party. It was he who suggested, in a shadow cabinet meeting, that concern by knuckle-draggers in the community about Muslims failing to integrate in Australia could be used as a political tool19. Morrison has also been guilty of stoking fear of Muslims in the community20, so his denial of the shadow cabinet story rings hollow. The government has always been willing to use the dog whistle whenever it suited them, and Morrison has almost always been in the thick of it21,22,23.
Morrison, like Trump, is clearly a misogynist, not in the sense of hating women, but in the sense of thinking everyone should own one, and thinks they should submit to men, as the various branches of his pentecostal cult seems to endorse24. This was clear also from his answer to a question regarding disciplining of ministers Aland Tudge and Christian Porter after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners ‘Canberra Bubble’ episode, which exposed their affair and inappropriate behaviour, respectively, with staffers. Morrison replied that he would do nothing because these occurred before then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull imposed the ‘bonk ban’ (the ban on politicians having sexual relations with staffers)25. The two men are still in their jobs, but the women are gone.
Morrison’s misogyny was further emphasised in a bizarre press conference with the Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston. Ruston was asked about the culture towards women in the Liberal Party by Phil Coorey, who asked “As a woman in government, your reflections on the culture inside; has it got better, worse or no change since the ‘bonk ban’?” Half way through Ruston’s first sentence in reply, Morrison simply started speaking over the top of her, such that she shut up. Morrison took umbrage at the reference to calling Turnbull’s ‘code’ a ‘bonk ban’. Ruston was allowed to complete her answer only after Morrison’s diatribe. Morrison’s speaking over the top of Ruston made international news in the UK and the US26.
Again, like Trump, Morrison is quite happy to take credit for the work others do. This has been brought into stark relief following the phenomenal success of the strategy used by Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews and his Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton in dealing with the second wave of Covid-19. At its peak in early August, they were getting nearly 700 new cases per day, now they have had 16 days with no new cases at all27, despite keeping up a testing regime averaging over 15,000 tests per day28. Their intense, relatively long lockdown, their testing regime and the compulsory wearing of masks clearly were exceptionally successful. The Federal government, the Liberal State opposition and both Murdoch’s Herald Sun ‘newspaper’ and his silly Sky News television channel, as well as other far right organisations, tried furiously to make life difficult for Andrews and Sutton, calling the former ‘Dictator Dan’, and Victoria ‘Danandrewstan’ among other juvenile epithets29,30,31. They also encouraged anti-lockdown protesters, and generally sniped constantly, mostly with the aim of making the Victorian opposition relevant. This clearly failed, as Andrews approval rating has soared while that of the opposition has plummeted32.
It was Morrison who said in the middle of July, when Victoria was experiencing about 200 new cases per day, that “The best protection against the virus [is] to live alongside the virus, and to open up your economy. You don’t protect your economy by continually shutting things down”33. Now Morrison has stated that he is advising US President-Elect Joe Biden on Australia’s success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic34. After constantly sniping and trying to undermine Daniel Andrews during Victoria’s battle, one would hope Morrison simply gave Andrews’ e-mail address to Biden to find out how Victoria was so successful. However, in Morrison’s case that would be a forlorn hope, especially when there is the fatherhood of success to be claimed.
Morrison is much like Trump, but Trump’s loss will have sent a chill down Morrison’s spine, because it has shown that the techniques used by both; the lying, the obfuscation, the refusal to answer questions, the science denial, etc., have a limited lifespan. Furthermore, Biden’s determination to do something about decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, will make Australia a pariah. Morrison will not be able to hide his own venality and stupidity behind that of Trump any more.