I grabbed a copy of Metro (Sydney’s free newspaper) on the way to catch the train home from work tonight. I only had time to quickly glance at it before my train pulled in, but as I was looking for a seat my mind was trying to work out one of the headlines I’d noticed:
“Howard honoured for services to us”
Now John Howard is the Aussie Prime Minister who lost the Federal election and his own seat in November 2007. As far as I can recall, the only decent service he offered us was to pack his bags and go. He put small children in detention centres for years and he introduced the most draconian workplace legislation this country has had since convicts were released from servitude. Not exactly services I felt were deserving of any honours.
When I’d managed to squeeze into a seat, I read the headline again. Of course, it wasn’t “us”; it actually read “US”. In other words, Howard was being honoured for his services to the USA.
He, Tony Blair and Alvaro Uribe were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. in Washington for some reason or other (probably connected with their inability to distinguish between Weapons of Mass Destruction and No Weapons of Mass Destruction).
Howard is staying at Blair House as a guest of George. Barack Obama was expecting to stay there with his family before the inauguration but apparently has had to go to an hotel. The place has about 170 rooms so I wouldn’t have thought that the two families sharing (4 adults and 2 children) would have caused too many problems, such as queuing for the bathroom or helping themselves to each other’s food out of the fridge, but apparently it was decided not to put them together. This may have something to do with the fact that when Barack announced he was going to stand as the Democratic candidate, Howard said that the day Barack was elected would be the day Al-Queda would be dancing in the streets.
There is of course another most suitable and spacious venue where John and Jeanette could have laid their heads. It’s called the Australian Embassy. (Tony Blair chose to stay at the British Embassy). But I suppose this way, the American taxpayer foots the bill for their accommodation. I certainly don’t want to pay for it.