“Never work with children or animals,” said the great actor WC Fields.
It seems like sound advice.
Why run the risk of being upstaged by cute things that you don’t have complete control over?
It’s strange that politicians haven’t really embraced this wisdom.
There they are, election campaign after election campaign, hugging animals and kissing babies.
I mean the idea that Malcolm Turnbull is going to win the hearts and minds of the bush by patting a murray-grey is a bit of a stretch.
Don’t politicians realise that we are not to be fooled by such obvious theatrical ploys.
Don’t they realise we laugh every time we see a big city politician donning a “never-worn-it-before, looks brand new Akubra”, as their vigilant spin doctor spots a paddock looming on the distant horizon.
As for babies, kissing them is apparently a politician’s idea of looking human.
“Ah, yes, that’s a baby. I’ve seen one of those before, in Canberra I think. You kiss them. How hard can that be?”
Obviously harder than they think, because they look like absolute rubbish when they do it.
Let’s face it, they’re not really qualified.
I mean the average politician is lucky if they’ve spent enough hours with their children to fulfill the minimum Centrelink requirement to be classified as a parent. And it shows.
From my point of view, and I’m willing to stand corrected on this point, but former prime minister Tony Abbott was a world leader in bad baby kissing. His style was, well, sloppy.
He seemed uncertain about whether to kiss the mother or the baby, and that moment of indecision threw him off balance and he tended to lunge, open-mouthed, from a distance.
This was problematic.
Firstly, it gave the baby a fighting chance. The clever baby ducked for cover leaving Abbott kissing thin air, or the ever-protective mother, unwilling to allow her child to be the passive victim of a political stunt, spun on her heels leaving our man’s lips romantically nuzzling the back of her head.
Any additions Malcolm Turnbull might like to make to the politicians’ code of conduct should include a prohibition on kissing babies and hugging animals and, of course, “boys, grow up and leave the staff alone!”
Simon Bourke is a Fairfax journalist