The warbloggers have been attempting to spin the result of the election here to their advantage. Cori Dauber claims that the election “was a referendum on Australia’s participation in Iraq”, and Glenn Reynolds claims that it was “in no small part as a referendum on the war”. They link to stories that provide no support for their claims and indeed undercut them by reporting that Howard did not even mention Iraq in his victory speech. No, the election was not about Iraq—it was hardly an issue.
They also continue to make hysterical attacks on Diana Kerry. Mike at Cold Fury accuses her of:
a dastardly attempt by Kerry to undermine the war effort by directly undermining the coalition fighting it, hoping to convince Australians to abandon a steadfast will to win in favor of tremulous cowardice and appeasement.
In fact, she had nothing to do with the election here at all and wasn’t even in the country. All she did was give a truthful answer to a question about whether invading Iraq has increased the terrorist threat to Australia. The attacks on her would appear to be just motivated by a desire for partisan advantage in the US election.
Update: Reynolds responds, offering posts from Tim Blair and Mike Jericho to support his claim. Neither post offers any evidence that Iraq was a major issue. Anyone who has been following the election would know how little it was discussed. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald on the election campaign observes:
Iraq flared briefly after the Jakarta bombings—most notably in the leaders’ debate—but was mostly left alone by the Opposition, even though Mr Howard refused to talk about the issue, betraying his fears the missing weapons of mass destruction and increased terrorist threat could hurt this chances.
Update 2: Tim Blair offers support for his position from, get this, Taiwan News. I wonder if Blair gets all his political news about Australia from Taiwan. Perhaps he just reads Aussie papers for their news about Taiwan.
I wonder what the Australian papers say? The closest thing I could find to support for Blair’s position was in the Australian, where Howard supporter Greg Sheridan opines (my emphasis):
Howard’s triumph has been extensively reported in the US. Almost universally, the international interpretation of the Australian election was to see it as a referendum on the nation’s involvement in Iraq.
In some ways this interpretation is accurate. Even though Iraq hardly figured in the campaign, the fact that Labor did not challenge Howard on the war shows that the Prime Minister had already won that particular argument before the campaign began.
Of course, by Sheridan’s logic the election was also a sort-of referendum on ditching the monarchy because that hardly figured in the campaign either. And also a sort-of referendum on everything else that didn’t figure in the campaign. Heavens knows how we should categorize the vote as to issues the did figure in the campaign. Referendum is taken, so maybe we need a new word?
Update 3: Tim Blair keeps digging himself deeper and deeper.