Only a few kilometres from the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau was the village of Oswiecim. During the years of mass murder no one in the village complained, aside from comments among one another about the stench. To be fair, a complaint might have been met with summary execution.
John Howard supporters have no fear of execution, which makes it even worse. Free to acknowledge the crimes against humanity and Australia's fair go by the Howard Government, they have instead allowed their ignoble silence, support and complicity to be bought with filthy lucre.
Take a bloke by the name of Peter Milford, who lives and works in Ringwood, in the seat of Deakin, Victoria, held by Liberal Phillip Barresi with a swing of 5 per cent needed to turf him out.
In Ewin Hannan's article, Temptation to stay with the devil you know, in today's Australian, Milford says of the illegal invasion of Iraq: "It's been a total disaster and will remain so." Of the PM's refusal to sign up to the Kyoto Protocal: "It's a disgrace." The treatment of Mohamed Haneef: "It's been appalling."
But, will he vote Labor, then?
"They were all things that totally alienated me and because of them I would (have said) publicly that I would not be voting Liberal."
Sounds promising, doesn't it?
"But when it comes to the crunch on polling day, I'll probably be thinking, things aren't really so bad, that we have been pretty well managed over a good number of years, and I think there will be a lot of people who will be saying: 'Let's go with the devil we know'.
"When I look around at my family, they are all well employed. They can get a job. There are not too many people I know who don't have a job but want one. If you're prepared to work, you can get a job, and I just think, generally speaking, things have been handled pretty well."
You wonder how many townsfolk from Oswiecim were well employed at the camps. Foolish question: all the labour at Auschwitz was slave labour. What was I thinking!
So that's your typical John Howard supporter. A decent man, without doubt, but one whose sense of injustice, while not dead, has been largely hammered out of him by Howard's mantra of aspirational greed.
An article to savour is Michael Gawenda's eulogy for John Howard (and perhaps himself as a campaign reporter): The Last Campaign. In it he refers to the emptiness surrounding Howard's last stand. He speaks of the weird deployment of Howard's hugs in recent weeks:
[Howard's] hug is executed, body to body, the prime ministerial arms wrapped around the hugged one, the prime ministerial head bobbing around affectionately, with the only hint of discomfort being the prime ministerial laugh, "hah hah hah, ho ho ho", which under these circumstances, seems to be entirely inappropriate.
This week, the fourth of the campaign, the Howard hug was deployed perhaps a half a dozen times. The recipients were young men in baseball caps turned backwards and older blokes who afterwards looked surprised by Howard's ardour and their positive, reflexive response to this unexpected show of affection.
But it's the "emptiness of an ageing and inaccessible PM's highly stage-managed campaign" that most disturbs Gawenda:
[Perhaps] Howard's hugging is merely a symptom of the emptiness of this campaign, empty in the sense not of its importance, but of spontaneity and debate and political speeches and humour and anything approaching a real conversation — and a real confrontation — between those who want power and those who will decide who wins it.
It is a sign of the desperate emptiness of this campaign that Howard's morning walk offers the main, perhaps the only, chance of a fleeting moment of unscripted reality, even if that reality is a chance to interview someone dressed as a sheep who is protesting against the live-sheep export trade and who, on most mornings when Howard is staying at Kirribilli House, waits for him to appear and then is duly ignored.
Gawenda also discusses in detail the gobsmacking difference between the US campaign (he's just returned from several years in the States) and ours. The difference is that they make speeches and have public rallies, while we have stage-managed sprints through shopping centres, pubs, RSL's and old folks homes, where hardly anyone gets a chance to say a word to the contenders unless it's shouted from the sidelines.
One of the best commentaries on John Howard yet, from the man we're only just beginning to forgive for his endorsement of the Weasel in 2004, as then editor of The Age.