When visiting my native Australia in late-July this year, I was invited to attend a book-launch at the New South Wales state parliament in Sydney. The main speaker was the now ex-Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.
It breaks no confidence to say that most people at the small gathering represented a Who’s Who of the Australian right. As is Abbott’s wont, he appeared very self-confident, and entertained the mixed crowd of politicians, journalists, academics, social conservatives, committed free-marketers, and largely Catholic clergy with his usual combination of political-historical observations and self-deprecatory humor. At one point, Abbott even remarked that he might well find himself back working as a journalist sometime in the future.
In retrospect, that particular comment was revealing inasmuch as it seemed to indicate Abbott’s awareness that his political fortunes could be about to change very quickly. Indeed, even among this group of friends and fellow travelers, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether Abbott would be leading the government into the next election, due by January 2017.