What Carr did not know when he proffered his advice was that he would become the centrepiece of a plan to address the talent question and the need for mentors. What he could not have imagined was that the plan would come together as exquisitely as it did yesterday – but only after it had been written off as a complete debacle, along with Gillard’s reborn prime ministership.
“A reverse wedgie on the press gallery,” was how one senior reporter described it at yesterday’s media conference. And it was.
Here was a relaxed, urbane, affable and utterly engaged Carr pledging his ”unbounded admiration” for a Prime Minister who had been castigated by many in the room for botching an opportunity to secure him. ”And I suspect that the more I see of her, the more I will be impressed by her steadfastness under pressure,” he added.
Gillard’s failure to secure Carr had been painted as evidence of the lack of authority that had haunted her while Rudd was stalking. Yet, here was Carr, offering testimony to that authority. ”When the distinctive voice of Prime Minister Gillard rouses you from your slumber and says, ‘Will you be foreign minister of Australia?’ I couldn’t have found it in me to say ‘no’.”
Her obsfucation while she was working on her reshuffle had been interpreted as an inability to stand up to demanding colleagues and think strategically. Yet here was Gillard, unfazed by the media hysteria, making the right call after three days of thought and discussion, and getting her way.
”This was all her,” is how Sam Dastyari, the party official who made the first approach to Carr, expressed it yesterday. ”She showed guts. She showed determination.”
Most telling of all, her unqualified repudiation of the Wednesday splash in The Australian headed ”Mutiny kills PM’s Bob Carr plan” was depicted by Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop, and many others besides, as evidence of Gillard having only a passing acquaintance with the truth. ”She is still silly and slippery, slimy and shifty,” Bishop told reporters on Thursday.
”This whole sorry farce about Bob Carr being offered the Senate spot and the foreign minister’s job shows that she has difficulty with the truth and, when she is under pressure, she manufactures a story. It shows that she lacks authority in her caucus and it shows an incredible lack of political judgment.”
Now Gillard is vindicated and Bishop looks silly.