The Fairfax National Times website this morning contains one sensible summary of all the fuss about activities years ago of our current political leaders. Tony Wright writes:
The new story about Abbott's assault upon a wall, of course, blends into polls showing he's not popular with voters, particularly women, and the current broader outcry about bullying in the workplace and on social media. He walks with the rolling gait of a colonial boss on a plantation. He's got to be a bully … why, he's been one since he was 20, as the story proves.
It does nothing of the sort. If it did, everyone who has ever behaved like spoiled, overexcited and unrestrained jackasses when they were young would have to be judged by the same measure. To do so would be to deny that people are capable of growing up and learning a bit about acceptable behaviour.
Julia Gillard has recently confronted old allegations about her behaviour when she was a young lawyer. It all went to the narrative about whether she was a trustworthy character, her accusers declared.
In the absence of any further evidence, it actually boiled down to this: as a young woman, she helped out a boyfriend with the principal skill she had to offer at the time - legal advice. That the rotter then used that advice to funnel ill-gotten gains to his own purposes does not, on the evidence known, mean that Ms Gillard took any knowing part in that. She simply made a bad choice as a young person in love. Who hasn't?
There are politicians of all sides shifting uneasily about the latest delirium concerning Abbott the younger.
''Of all the reasons I have to object to the idea of Abbott becoming prime minister, his antics all those years ago at university aren't among them,'' a senior ALP senator told me yesterday. ''God, if anyone dredged up the things we did at university we'd all be buggered.''
Best, surely, to judge those who wish to be prime ministers on their current behaviour.