Today in the Sunday News Limited papers there’s a story by Samantha Maiden on Tony Abbott supporting his chief of staff Peta Credlin through IVF treatments.
The emotional triggers in the story are obvious given Tony Abbott made a big name for himself when he was the Health Minister in relation to his right to veto access to the abortion drug RU486 and his positions on various issues involving the right to life and what families value are seen to be heavily influenced by his Catholicism and the influence of Cardinal George Pell, B.A Santamaria and many others.
This post is not so much about this news story which I think is kind of meaningless. “Political leader supports chief of staff on issue where he’s caused controversy” … Newspapers need content in order to sell advertising. A journalist does their job by writing a story. A family spends time at a beach on a Sunday afternoon. The dog barks and the caravan moves on. So what?
What I find strange is the tendency from supporters on both “sides” of politics to attack people on the other “side” who do things or have positions on issues that they either support or don’t oppose.
If you’re a progressive, there’s a very strong likelihood you support women undergoing IVF treatment if they’re having difficulty conceiving. Many progressives get very angry when conservatives oppose it’s use and for very good reasons.
So when Abbott is alleged to have said something along the lines of ” I am not against IVF, I am passionate for IVF. Anything that helps families is a good thing, it’s not a bad thing”, you’d think many on the progressive “side” of politics wouldn’t have a problem with that.
Looking at the reaction to the piece however, it looks like the opposite was the case. It’s almost as if there are progressives who want Abbott to be opposed to women receiving IVF treatment just so they can attack him!
This has been one of the Liberal Party’s tactics since Abbott became leader and it has allowed them to control the frame of the national conversation. Support something progressives support, let progressives attack them for being inconsistent and then point out the hypocrisy of how progressives oppose something they support just because “Tony Abbott” supposedly supports it.
So we’re apparently all hypocrites (on Sunday, no less), but Abbott’s got control of the frame and that’s all he and his chief of staff care about. The ability for a story like this to influence public opinion is only dependent on progressives attacking Abbott and his chief of staff over it.
People aren’t going to see Abbott differently on women’s issues because of a piece in a newspaper or an interview with his chief of staff in Marie Clare magazine. Views on this topic are well and truly entrenched. All getting triggered by it and attacking it does is allow conservatives and Abbott a way out of the mess of their own making.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the partisan battle over personalities while losing track of what the issues are. I think the key to overcoming this kind of tactic is to know where you stand, know when to agree and know when to attack. Otherwise you get caught in the trap of repeatedly attacking what you support which is probably the least effective way to create the society you want to create.