Home > Oz Politics > The second time as farce

The second time as farce

July 10th, 2006

The Howard-Costello version of the Kirribilli pact is providing lots of innocent amusement, and insight into the postmodern nature of Australian politics.

Costello says there was a deal, Howard says there wasn’t, but, as the government’s supporters will no doubt hasten to point out, the whole idea of a ‘one size fits all’ truth, the same for everyone, smacks of socialism. In a modern market system of politics, everyone can pick their own truth, as desired, and have more than one available for different occasions.

The AWB fiasco illustrated this perfectly. On the one hand, Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant and it was our obvious duty to support the US in overthrowing him, even if Australian lives were bound to be lost in the process (not to mention, of course, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, wounded or displaced). On the other hand, it was the government’s duty to promote the interests of Australian wheatgrowers, and if that meant slipping Saddam a few hundred million, creamed off the top of funds set aside to help the Iraqi people, then so be it. And, with Saddam gone, it was obviously necessary to cover the deal up so as to keep the incoming government sweet. With the surprising exception of Murdoch’s Australian no-one on the political right saw anything wrong with this.

As with AWB, I doubt that anything will come of this, unless Howard or Costello has decided to push the whole thing past the point of no return. Costello’s deliberate setup of a direct conflict with Howard suggests this. Still there’s plenty of time to patch things up.

More on this from Andrew Bartlett and Mark Bahnisch similarly cynical). Tim Dunlop retains some capacity for outrage and also thinks that Howard has to sack Costello now.

A few afterthoughts on all this.

In thinking about the original Kirribilli pact, it’s worth recalling that Hawke and Keating began their political partnership in 1983 with a wholesale abandonment of election promises, justified by the original Budget Black Hole, conveniently discovered for them by Treasury Secretary (and later National Party Senator) John Stone. They were in turn building on a precedent set by newly-appointed Treasurer John Howard, who discarded the “fistful of dollars” tax cut promise on which the Liberals had won the 1977 election, an action greeted with the memorable headline “Lies, Lies, Lies”, and one which earned Howard the nickname “Honest John”.

At least in Costello’s universe, the Hawke-Keating pattern was reversed. He and Howard made solemn promises to each other, then went to the 1996 election with a set of promises they had no intention of honouring. The Black Hole appeared as expected, and they discarded all their commitments, to the near-universal applause of the commentariat.

Younger readers may find this hard to believe, but in earlier times, electoral promises were taken seriously and Ministers routinely lost their jobs if they were caught misleading Parliament. The Whitlam government suffered a lot because Whitlam was unwilling to drop promises that had been part of the platform on which he was elected, and the Loans Affair that brought the government down turned on the fact that ministers lied to Parliament, rather than on any substantive illegality. Even under Fraser and Hawke, ministers resigned over offences that would now be brazened out.

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  1. Bring Back EP at LP
    July 10th, 2006 at 17:47 | #1

    no pact in fact not even an agreement.

    In terms of costello No Guts no Glory!

    Resign you gutless wimp

  2. July 10th, 2006 at 17:59 | #2

    It would be interesting to see how the Government acts without Costello and how it affects team dynamics. Not that Costello will resign as he is just going to go into history as Howard’s Handbag.

  3. July 10th, 2006 at 18:27 | #3

    The younger readers bit is so true.

    I’ve tried telling youngsters that once a politician had to resign because he had bought a colour TV into australia without declaring it at customs. They just don’t believe me.

    It would be an idea for someone with the facts to do a timeline with resignations and “scandals”

  4. Bob
    July 10th, 2006 at 18:27 | #4

    Just think of my alternative reality of Australian political life.

    *Andrew Peacock wins the 1990 election.
    * Shadow Treasurer John Hewson becomes Treasurer
    He implements a 15% across the board GST BUT abolishes all other indirect taxes AND very generously compensates fixed income earners through large increases in beenfits and one-off payments.
    * Ian McPhee become Aboriginal Affairs Minister and apologises to the stolen generation.
    * Moderate workplace reform is implemented that prevents union vetoes on enterprise agreements but continues the institutional continuity of Australian life by preserving some aspects of the tri-partite arrangements that stem from the Harvester judgment.
    * John Howard is appointed as High Commissioner to London and is never seen again.

    See what happened when all you naiive people voted for ‘the environment’ in 1990 (and what got done anyway)!!! If we all could go back and change our vote, we’d all be a lot better off and a better society to boot!

    Well, that’s my 2 cents anyway!

  5. Bring Back EP at LP
    July 10th, 2006 at 18:49 | #5

    people who are a bit older may remember Andrew Peacock not thinking things through and calling for a leadership contest in 1974 expecting Billie Snedden to win. He didn’t.

    this has all the class of that brilliant strategy about it

  6. Alan
    July 10th, 2006 at 18:54 | #6

    A lot of you people are missing the point: most people in Australia know that the rodent is as shifty as a weasel. The point is that repeated elections show that they know but don’t care.

  7. July 10th, 2006 at 19:00 | #7

    Bob, on that counterfactual, Peacock and Hewson would have had to steer the economy out of the recession. Keating could have won as Oppo leader in 93 and we might still have him in power!

  8. snuh
    July 10th, 2006 at 19:26 | #8

    farce is right. i mean, bugger whether costello will ever recover his rightful prime ministership; what i want to know is, will he ever recover his dignity?

    “you said if i was good you would let me be prime minister…oh but you promised” etc.

  9. Bill O’Slatter
    July 10th, 2006 at 19:53 | #9

    The difference between the AWB scandal and the leadership scandla is that there is a smoking gun; it’s in McLachlan’s wallet. There will be much entertainment as Howard provides versions of that meeting. You are correct in pointing out that the AWB shines a light on decision making ( If that’s what you call it ) in the Howard government. Howard will be remembered as the King of Spin and for little else.

  10. wpd
    July 10th, 2006 at 20:06 | #10

    Bill O’Slatter you are wrong. Courtesy of Senator Brandis, JWH will be known as the ‘lying rodent’.

    We all remember ‘Pig iron Bob’.

  11. July 10th, 2006 at 20:22 | #11

    Bill. I don’t think so. McLachlan’s notes are reported as quoting Howard to say “I can’t give any guarentees”. So it was just a non-core promise. Note that Howard put out a press release after Costello gave his presser saying that he agreed with Costello.

  12. rog
    July 10th, 2006 at 20:52 | #12

    I would be more concerned with the state of McLaclans wallet than that of the nation; when was the last time he substantiated a claim for expenses with a receipt?

  13. July 10th, 2006 at 20:52 | #13

    This could be the start of the transition to Costello for PM. We all know Howard’s a weasel, and Costello’s the unrequited aspirant. Here is a story that confirms both but portrays Costello as team player, carrying the secret of being dudded for years without much complaint. What a trooper he is under the porcine exterior!

    If Kim Beazley can stop tripping over his laces long enough to land some decent blows about industrial relations, John Howard will be seen as a liability so Peter C looms as the leader in the next election. Who else is there?

  14. rog
    July 10th, 2006 at 21:39 | #14

    I doubt it Chris, Costello never had/never will have the numbers. If he didnt have the ticker for a party vote all those years ago he doesnt now.

  15. July 10th, 2006 at 21:50 | #15

    I’m with rog.

    Howard’s likely strategy is to play it as he has in the past – force Costello back in his box. His comments this afternoon were to more or less say – yes, that conversation took place, but it didn’t mean anything. McLachlan’s notes are reported to include Howard saying “I can’t give any guarenteesâ€?. The bizarre twist is that, if Milne on the 7 30 report is still to be regarded as Costello’s mouthpiece, Costello wants Howard to sack him. But then Howard can get his revenge better by putting the ball back in Costello’s court. He won’t resign because he’s risk averse. He won’t challenge because he’s risk averse. If he does, the result would be humiliating for him. The strategy appears to be designed to force Howard out – which is a bizarre misreading of Howard’s likely response – to dig his heels in.

    But it’s all bad for the forces of darkness!

  16. July 10th, 2006 at 21:52 | #16

    It would be interesting to see how “Howards Battlers” , and /or those former One Nation voters who apparently like Howards dog whistle politics perceive Peter Costello. It would be difficult to see how they could have much warmth for someone who who is apparently to the left of Howard in social policy terms but to his right when it comes to Industrial Relations, particularly if the net result of the governments IR changes is to force down their wages.

  17. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 10th, 2006 at 22:02 | #17

    Politics is a zero sum game.

  18. observa
    July 10th, 2006 at 22:28 | #18

    Recalling a conversation 12 bloody years ago???? Sweet Jesus, who the hell brought that up now?
    As for Costello lacking ticker, what a laugh. The man’s been the second most powerful bloke in the country for years ya wallys. What about you underlings? This move by Costello’s backers clearly means there is no deal whatsoever for a smooth handover from Howard. That being the case then clearly the young bull has to make his move fairly soon if he fancys himself in Howard’s shoes. Looks like he is now.

  19. July 10th, 2006 at 23:16 | #19

    I agree with Observa, its a grab for power not the sign of a wimp at all. But I think Costello is mistaken. Howard has strong support and would win any ballot. As probably the most successful and talented government in Australia for decades it is hardly surprising that disputes over leadership arise. But I think Costello has jumped early on this one – unless he is committed to leaving politics.

    The succession issue has nothing to do with the AWB or other such issues. The public have not been mislead. It is just a political power struggle and only rigid ageists would suggest than, on the basis of vintage, Howard needs to go.

  20. SJ
    July 10th, 2006 at 23:40 | #20

    harry clarke Says:

    As probably the most successful and talented government in Australia for decades…

    That’s rather an odd turn of phrase, Harry.

    I guess “successful” and “talented” are in the eye of the beholder.

    In terms of electoral success, he doesn’t measure up to Hawke/Keating, nor Menzies.

    In terms of economic success, on some measures he beats Hawke/Keating, but on those same measures doesn’t match Menzies. On others he loses to Hawke/Keating.

    Maybe that should be the next election slogan: Vote Howard – he’s better for the economy than Whitlam or Fraser! And better yet, he’s not Fraser’s treasurer any more!

  21. Jill Rush
    July 10th, 2006 at 23:49 | #21

    I am amazed that Costello’s supporters think that anything that Howard suggested twelve years ago is worth anything now. Why is this promise more important than all of the promises previously broken by Howard – just because it is about Pete?

    If I were a betting woman I would hazard that Costello will never be PM and never leader either. Howard will continue to rule until he loses and then the party will got for a new face as Costello will be blamed along with Howard for the loss.

    The AWB shows exactly how the facts and ethics can be altered to suit the situation. Thus the Pick the Truth scenario is the one I like best.

  22. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 11th, 2006 at 00:26 | #22

    I am amazed that Costello’s supporters think that anything that Howard suggested twelve years ago is worth anything now.

    If Peter wants to keep the issue alive and on the front page of newspapers then it is obviously worth something. If Costello wants to be PM (without first being opposition leader) then keeping the leadership issue alive is his only option.

    If John wants to stay as PM then his best option is to hope Peter hangs himself by tripping over his “I’ve been betrayed” rhetoric.

  23. brian
    July 11th, 2006 at 00:48 | #23

    If you consider Australian political history since the Second World War you will see that each world-wide recession,has produced great swings against however was in power. In 1961 Menzies came within a seat of defeat. In 1969 Whitlam came close to defeating Gorton,with a huge swing(which ultimately made his 1972 victory possible).
    In 1983 nothing could save Malcolm Fraser.and only John Hewson’s policies could frighten enough voters to save Keating.
    The absence of the expected recession in 2000,saved Howard.
    Have no doubt that when interest rates rise,and the economy goes down, the fickle voters in the MCMansions will turn on the Coalition with the savagery that showed to Big Mal in 1983.
    Perhaps Costello will be the victim.!! What an irony is that happens.
    The Australian economy is small beers ,but when the international fiancial tsunami rolls across the world,it sweeps Australian governments away. Only the politicians and a section of the dumbest voters believe that Australian politicians have any real financial power,when the storms are blowing…just you wait and see !!!

  24. Marilyn
    July 11th, 2006 at 02:22 | #24

    A writ has been filed against AWB in the US accusing them of racketeering, paying bribes to many countries, stealing and so on. Inevitably Howard and co will be dragged into this court case because now know they conspired with AWB to cover up the massive millions and look at Iraq today.

    I was with an Iraqi family on Friday night who were shocked to the core that Australia would steal from them then blow them up, and lock up the refugees who escaped while they were doing the first two things.

    Now Costello is a coward of the highest order as he has not said one word about the catastrophe that is Iraq today, he supports locking up kids in refugee jails, Abbott thinks the Aborigines will all get better if they shoot bloody camels and these morons call themselves leaders.

    On an aside I was highly amused today watching commentators choking over the visit by Ali Bakhtiari to Australia. His message that the world was running out of oil was bad enough but the name had them sputtering considering the years of abuse and cruelty they had heaped on the poor man and his wife and kids.

  25. Con
    July 11th, 2006 at 05:49 | #25

    Will he do a Keating and challenge or move to the back bench? Lets see if the treasurer can back himself on this one. Good to see that ‘honest John’ is living up to his reputation!

  26. rog
    July 11th, 2006 at 08:10 | #26

    Costello has only one option, to challenge JH in the party room. Once the votes have been cast he can either elect to continue as Treasurer or resign. Either way he has lost.

    Or maybe he can just issue a statement that he has no wish to challenge JH, that his only mission is to serve the country and the party to the best of his ability, believes that what was said in the past remains in the past and disassociate himself from actions by Milne MacLachlan and co.

    That would place him into a more honourable dignified position.

  27. Andrew
    July 11th, 2006 at 10:44 | #27

    I like Costello’s recent speech at the ’100 most influential Australians’ lunch – and I agree with Laurie Oakes interpretation of it. Costello is clearly having a tilt at some big ideas – and that is part an parcel of his run for PM.

    1. Revamping Federalism – this gets discussed all the time but there is rarely any action. The latest bickering over standardising university entrance scores and a standard starting age for school is a classic example.

    2. Solving Australia’s water problems

    3. Arresting our fertility decline

    4. An Australian republic

    5. Aboriginal reconciliation and bringing our indigineous citizens into mainstream Australian life.

    http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/bulletin/site/articleIDs/DE2FA438AAC5D3A9CA25719B001657C0

    John Howard seems to have run out of ‘big’ ideas (IR reforms not withstanding) – and the ALP didn’t have any to start with.

  28. stoptherubbish
    July 11th, 2006 at 11:08 | #28

    I’m with Jill Rush. The rodent will lead to the next election. The most important issue here is job security, MPs’ naturally (they don’t care about anyone else’s). Why would they forsake a proven winner, for an untried wannabe with a smirk and sense of entitlement? Costello has two options here. Go to the back bench and wait until the government is defeated, or, put up and shut up. John and Janette are having too much fun living in the best house in Sydeny to give up the both the job and the digs now.

  29. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 11th, 2006 at 12:02 | #29

    Costello has only one option, to challenge JH in the party room.

    He has other options. He can stay on as treasurer and make the PM look weak for not sacking him. I don’t think it serves his purposes (becoming PM) to resign or challenge at this point in time. However agitation is another matter. If Howard sacks Costello it gives him the chance to pose as a betrayed minister and to challenge from a just position. If Howard does not sack Costello then Costello can always challenge later. This game is all about controlling the narrative. As such the media has a big role to play.

  30. vee
    July 11th, 2006 at 12:57 | #30

    Mr Howard also refused to comment on suggestions by his close confidant Grahame Morris that he might start thinking about retirement in November this year.

    “He is a good friend of mine Grahame Morris. I respect him a lot, I like him. He’s been a mate of mine for years,” Mr Howard said.

    “But he is free thinker and makes up his own mind and he forms his own views and he articulates them very well.” source: SMH

    That reads to me as a “Yes, I’ll do that” but I don’t know if Costello’s actions change anything

  31. July 11th, 2006 at 13:02 | #31

    It’s an inexorable law: every year the king gets older and more courtiers gravitate to the heir. Any ambitious Liberal backbencher with a relatively safe seat has a steadily diminishing interest in keeping in Howard’s good books and a steadily increasing interest in Costello’s preferences.

  32. July 11th, 2006 at 13:17 | #32

    John. You haven’t been reading your Quadrant lately, as they would not agree with your comment “the whole idea of a ‘one size fits all’ truth, the same for everyone, smacks of socialism”. They are forever blathering on about relativism.

    In fact Julie Bishop’s recent foray into the teaching of history is more of this. As far as they are concerned there is only one truth about Federation, or settlement – let alone there being multiple truths about events twelve years ago.

  33. July 11th, 2006 at 14:02 | #33

    When you’ve got nasty IR laws to hide and a lazy media, why not use the leadership issue again? So what if it’s only been done twice before: people still don’t twig that Costello will never be Treasurer.

  34. derrida derider
    July 11th, 2006 at 14:46 | #34

    Maybe the rodent was toying with going later this year – but given his stubbornness he’ll have dropped that now. I reckon he’s certainly thought about retiring in the past, but just couldn’t bring himself to.

    Power is more addictive than crystal meth. Johnny’s like all of them who’ve used it for a while – they get hooked. The PM’s job will have to be prized from his cold, dead hands.

  35. July 11th, 2006 at 21:25 | #35

    Pr Q says:


    The Howard-Costello version of the Kirribilli pact is providing lots of innocent amusement, and insight into the postmodern nature of Australian politics.

    Costello says there was a deal, Howard says there wasn’t, but, as the government’s supporters will no doubt hasten to point out, the whole idea of a ‘one size fits all’ truth, the same for everyone, smacks of socialism. In a modern market system of politics, everyone can pick their own truth, as desired, and have more than one available for different occasions.

    Pr Q’s notion of right wing post-modernism is intellectually untenable. His accusation of it in the present case is a symptom of his chronic case of Howard-hatred that flares up whenever the Evil One gets personally involved.

    Right wing po-mo does not refer to the tendency of Right wing politicians to tell fibs or erect double standards. Comparing and contrasting conflicting versions of events is the meat and drink of gotcha journalists and detectives. Twas’ ever thus, for Left and Right alike.

    Po-mo, whether Right wing or Left wing, refers to the notion that truth is inherently unattainable and problematic because of the invariable differences in individual perspectives that bias, and institutional interests that corrupt, naive truth seekers.

    Neither Costello or Howard or any of their supporters have made this philsophical claim about various versions of “the Deal”. Both have insinuated that the other party is lying ie deviating from objective truth. Or that there was “some kind of misunderstanding”.

    One does not need to be a post-modernist to arrive at this conclusion. Merely a crafty political animal, which is not exactly an earth-shattering revelation.

    Pr Q says:


    On the one hand, Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant and it was our obvious duty to support the US in overthrowing him, even if Australian lives were bound to be lost in the process (not to mention, of course, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, wounded or displaced).

    No, that is wrong interpretation of the LN/P Coalitions realist policy Although it is a correct description of the Coalitions idealist spin politics.

    The Anglosphere’s interevention in Iraq-attack was straight forward power politics for both the US, UK and AUS. The US invaded Mesopotamia to swap client states. The UK supported to further “the special relationship”. AUS helped the US to shore up the AUS-US alliance in a time of greatly heightened insecurity in our region.

    AUS is not responsible for a single net increase in Iraq’s war-death toll. The vast bulk of killing has been done by the US military and Iraqi sectarians. All this would have occurred whether the ADF went along for the ride or not. The ADF’s intervention probably saved lives through neutralising some Republican Guards and protecting Shiites.

    Pr Q says:


    On the other hand, it was the government’s duty to promote the interests of Australian wheatgrowers, and if that meant slipping Saddam a few hundred million, creamed off the top of funds set aside to help the Iraqi people, then so be it. And, with Saddam gone, it was obviously necessary to cover the deal up so as to keep the incoming government sweet. With the surprising exception of Murdoch’s Australian no-one on the political right saw anything wrong with this.

    Totally wrong headed reading. The “oil for food program” saved the lives of hundeds of thousands of Iraqi children. THe AWB should be applauded for facilitating trade and artificially depressing the price of wheat to make the deal. Hooray for Howard, feeder of the children.

    Who cares if some tyrants hands got greased in the process? THats the way they do things in the Middle East. Any one heard the term “baksheesh“? All the multiculturalists should be delighted that the AWB took this opprtunity to observe local customs. Lets celebrate diversity!

    Pr Q says:


    Younger readers may find this hard to believe, but in earlier times, electoral promises were taken seriously and Ministers routinely lost their jobs if they were caught misleading Parliament.


    The Whitlam government suffered a lot because Whitlam was unwilling to drop promises that had been part of the platform on which he was elected,

    the Loans Affair that brought the government down turned on the fact that ministers lied to Parliament, rather than on any substantive illegality. Even under Fraser and Hawke, ministers resigned over offences that would now be brazened out.

    That is true. Everyone was more honest in the good old days. But not necessarily more sensible. But public policy had some pretty bad spells from the early seventies through the early nineties, often due to dogmatic adherence to principle.

    The Whitlam government would have enjoyed a longer and more prosperous term had he not been so dogmatic about “the Program”. I adore Gough as more than most baby boomers but he was his own worst enemy sometimes. Keating’s cultural policy promises would have best been left unkept.


    In thinking about the original Kirribilli pact, it’s worth recalling that Hawke and Keating began their political partnership in 1983 with a wholesale abandonment of election promises, justified by the original Budget Black Hole,

    At least in Costello’s universe, the Hawke-Keating pattern was reversed. He and Howard made solemn promises to each other, then went to the 1996 election with a set of promises they had no intention of honouring. The Black Hole appeared as expected, and they discarded all their commitments, to the near-universal applause of the commentariat.

    Ditching political promises in favour of core policy values can sometimes be in the national interest. This is the moral conclusion of realist political scientists like Machiavelli and Weber.

    This is because the coalitions of partisan special interests that make up majority governments want contradictory goals but also want high-sounding principles adhered to. This causes promises to be made that are probably logically impossible, and certainly empirically irresponsible, to deliver.

  36. Bob
    July 11th, 2006 at 21:30 | #36

    Every time someone said “John Howard is going after Malcolm Fraser’s record,” I would retort with, “No, he’s going after Menzies.”

    John Hewson was right in The Aus today (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19747075-7583,00.html) when he said you’ll have to take him out in a box.

  37. rog
    July 12th, 2006 at 00:19 | #37

    I hardly think that any “deal” done in private can be compared to Whitlam’s hamfisted loans affair – and then there was the Keating L.A.W. and Senator Richardson’s “whatever it takes” philosophy and his staement that “all politicians lie”

    Was Richo telling the truth?

  38. July 12th, 2006 at 00:29 | #38

    A seemingly throwaway private and speculative conversation is NOT a contract with the Australian people.

    The kirribilli pact was only between Hawke & Keating, the public didn’t hold it against, nor care about, Bob Hawke for reneging on it, neither does anybody give a toss about the McLachlan “papers”.

  39. still working it out
    July 12th, 2006 at 09:57 | #39

    “Younger readers may find this hard to believe, but in earlier times, electoral promises were taken seriously and Ministers routinely lost their jobs if they were caught misleading Parliament.”

    As a younger reader I do indeed find that hard to comprehend.

    I think this will be a problem for the liberal party Alot of people are saying the public does not care if John Howard is a liar, citing the lack of reaction to recent scandals. I think people underestimate how successful Howard has been in keeping his credibility intact with a large segment of the electorate. The recent scandals have gone nowhere because in the minds of voters its all been he said/she said with one side being Howard, and the other actually being the media itself. People don’t really trust Howard, but they don’t trust the media either.

    When it is two allied politicians calling each other liars, then the dynamic changes. Its no longer he said/she said. One of them has to be a liar.

  40. July 12th, 2006 at 10:59 | #40

    swio – not true. Two people can legitimately differ on what was said between them 12 years ago. Do you correctly remember every word you said to anyone 12 years ago?

  41. Bring Back EP at LP
    July 12th, 2006 at 12:19 | #41

    the exact words no but an undertaking I volunteered most certainly

  42. July 12th, 2006 at 12:43 | #42

    If the words included “I give no guarantees” is that an undertaking?

  43. still working it out
    July 12th, 2006 at 21:36 | #43

    Andrew Reynolds,

    I certainly agree that one or both may be mis-remembering what was said.

    But I believe the quite emphatic statements (perhaps overly emphatic) from both sides, the fact it was noted down and the extreme importance attached to the issue today have persuaded the general public (perhaps incorrectly) that faulty memory is not a factor.

    From the point of view of the media narrative and Costello and Howard’s credibility, what the general public believes is all that matters.

  44. still working it out
    July 12th, 2006 at 21:48 | #44

    I don’t necessarily agree with that media narrative. I think it may be a lot more nuanced than they are presenting. But the media and general public like things simple and in black and white. At the moment that only leaves room for either Howard or Costello to be a liar.

  45. July 13th, 2006 at 14:42 | #45

    swio,
    Only in media terms – not in reality.

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