Thursday, August 01, 2013

What do Kevin Rudd and Al Gore have in common?

You know something? To lose a loved one after a serious illness and prolonged hospitalisation is one of the most testing, and for good or ill, cathartic life experiences that anyone can go through.

As a cursory reading of his blog will show, Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt is no fan of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Barely a day passes by without Bolt sticking his boots into Rudd over something.

The federal government has announced plans to increase taxes on the sale of tobacco products by 12.5 per cent over the next four years. This will add an estimated $5.00 to the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes by the end of 2016. According to the government, revenue raised will be used to fund cancer-related health services and new policies to discourage people from smoking.

Personally, I support any government measures to discourage smoking. This is all well and good, but it seems Rudd has been caught out using the death of his mother for political purposes. Because of his apparently contradictory public statements on this matter, it is unclear if she died of lung cancer or Parkinson’s disease.

His mother died in 2004, and depending on the audience, whether its to justify this tobacco tax increase, meeting a Parkinson’s disease sufferer, or supporting a womens cancer charity, he appears to embellish the story of her death to suit the occasion.

I couldn’t help but remember former US Vice President and 2000 Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore, who on the one hand reached out to tobacco farmers, and on the other gave an embellished account of his sister’s death from lung cancer, and how this moved him to do whatever he could to protect America’s children from the dangers of smoking.

This is called “making an emotional connection.” If you wanted to be cynical, you could say that this is a euphemism for spinning personal adversities to manipulate the electorate, and all in the name of political expediency. Not only is it dishonest, it is also offensive to anyone who grieves the premature loss of a loved one due to serious or terminal illness.

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