Naked Eye #4

My final Sun-Herald column about Sarah Palin’s TV job and Prince William’s visit, among other things.

FOX News now Sarah and Balanced

The news that Sarah Palin would join FOX News as an analyst sounded like a (non-gay) marriage made in Republican heaven. She needed a job, having abandoned her state midway through her second term, and Fox needed high-profile Obama opponents. But her first appearance didn’t exactly contradict MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who asked how she could be a pundit when “she doesn’t know anything”. She quickly got befuddled when asked by Bill O’Reilly how a McCain-Palin administration would have responded to the Iranian nuclear threat, and her answer to how she’d combat the rise in unemployment was that the Government should get out of the way of the private sector – the very approach which caused the financial crisis in the first place. Most damagingly, she admitted she thought Saddam Hussein might have been responsible for 9/11 before her Vice-Presidential debate in 2008. Still, at least there is now a clear heir to the Bush legacy.

Where there’s a Wills

Understandably, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cancelled her visit to Australia because of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. But fortunately no crisis has prevented Prince William from visiting Sydney for a whole two days next week, in what is only his second visit ever despite being our future King. The Premier is taking time out from fixing our crumbling State to meet his plane, and then Wills will be attending a garden-party. It hardly seems worth the fuss, nor the substantial security bill. If he must come here, perhaps he could emulate some of our other young English visitors, and pull some beers or something?

Google and the Great Wall of Conroy

Google’s dramatic announcement that it would stop censoring its search engine in China has been praised as a win for civil liberties in a nation where speech is far from free. Its decision has been applauded by the White House, with spokesperson Robert Gibbs referring to President Obama’s speech in Beijing in November in which he advocated the “right of a free internet.” And yet that’s exactly the right that our own government is now proposing to restrict. So will Google refuse to play ball with our government’s attempt to decide what its citizens should see? And will President Obama criticise Stephen Conroy’s plan to make internet filtering mandatory in Australia? Labor Senator Kate Lundy expressed reservations about the plan this week, and presumably now risks being consigned to some gulag for expressing dissent.

Who wants to see a millionaire?

A big welcome to AR Rahman, the genius Bollywood composer whose compositions even sound good when they’re performed by the Pussycat Dolls. He hopes his free concert for the Sydney Festival will help to build bridges between Australia and India at a time of considerable tension. Let’s hope so, because the killings in Melbourne have done enormous damage to our image in the region. Rahman says the attacks are the result of drugs rather than racism, though, which seems about as optimistic as a boy from the Mumbai slums trying to win Who Want To Be A Millionaire.

Abbott’s Army vs Rudd’s Regiment

Tony Abbott has tried to seize the environmental mantle from the left this week, promising to create a 15,000-strong Green Army that will undertake a series of conservationist sorties around the nation. They will confront the urgent environmental challenges facing Australia, except of course climate change. But since Kevin Rudd already announced a Green Jobs Corps back in July, we are faced with the thrilling prospect of the two forces joining battle. And since Rudd promised to recruit 50,000 for his programme, Abbott might want to bump up his numbers before the warring sides take up their pitchforks and hoes.

Whan disaster strikes

Amid the flood of responses to the terrible tragedy in Haiti was a statement from the NSW Labor MP Steve Whan headed “New South Wales rescuers on standby following Haiti tsunami”. The media release, which was posted on the NSW Fire Brigade website, suggests that our state’s Emergency Services Minister doesn’t know the difference between an earthquake and a tsunami. Hint: one involves water.

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