phillip adams.what has become of him?

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    ANDREW BOLT
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    Adams is Left out

    26may03

    NOW and then I receive an elegantly phrased note of abuse, neatly typed on personal letterhead and ending with a mock-matey "cheers", over the signature of Phillip Adams.

    "I quite enjoy your drivellings," begins a typical one.
    "You could be a Melburnian variation on Stan Zemanek," ends another. "Of course, you'll have to wait until your voice breaks."

    I mention this because one of these letters may help to explain Phillip's genuinely tragic fate -- how this once Great Fixer of Australian Kulcha is now attacked as a sign of that same culture's decline.

    Yes, this urbane and well-meaning man, who tells me angrily that he has been "honoured with not one but two Orders of Australia", is being disowned by the Left he long courted.

    Once Phillip was everywhere. A former ad man, he was appointed by Labor governments to the Australian Film Commission, the National Museum and the Australia Council, and helped to make films such as Don's Party and The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.

    He even got to head our National Australia Day Council, where he ensured the Australian of the Year Award went to Left heroes "who would discompose calcified conservatives".

    So much did he do to promote the Left, and Labor, too, of which he has been a member for 40 years.

    Yet today he is suddenly being held up by Left-wing modernisers as a symbol of what's wrong not just with their movement, but with Labor in particular.

    Of course, the Right had been demonising him already as a symbol of what's wrong with the ABC, where he hosts his sometimes interesting but low-rating Late Night Live chat show on Radio National.

    "Where is the ABC's Right-wing Phillip Adams?" Howard Government ministers began asking several years ago, indignant at the national broadcaster's refusal to appoint a single conservative or Right-winger to host one of its many public affairs shows on radio or TV.

    Phillip at first was chuffed by this notoriety, and even invited me on to two shows he devoted to the ABC's pretend "search" for the "Right-wing Phillip Adams" it has no intention of ever hiring. Not while there's still a one-legged lesbian Marxist without a job.

    In fact, what he failed to realise was that this growing demand for a "Right-wing Phillip Adams" on the ABC was not a tribute, but an insult -- the first public indication that this former communist turned socialist was no longer swimming powerfully in the cultural mainstream, but had somehow been swept out to some airless galaxy, far, far away from mother earth.

    And that large parts of Radio National seemed to have been swept out there with him, to a place where no one hears you scream. Or chat to like-minded guests. Or play Billy Bragg.

    You see, what was being demanded was not another voice of reason and wisdom, but someone as way out to the Right as Phillip was to the Left. Just for balance.

    But more surprising -- even welcome -- has been the new attack on Phillip from important players within his Labor Party.

    IT is welcome because it hints that the party I twice worked for may finally understand that an olive-farm socialist like Phillip, busier fighting for mythical "refugees" in a mythical Woomera "concentration camp" than fighting for real Australian battlers in Dandenong, represents its failures, not its future.

    Until now, Phillip has rather fancied himself as leader of the moral crusades of our time. But what, exactly, is his Jerusalem?

    He has fought for asylum-seekers, by denouncing the "mass of Australians" who backed the Howard Government's stand as liars who love lies about refugees, and a "little people" with "the racism of nice people who live in nice houses", voting in a Prime Minister who "speaks to the deep, dark depths of our mediocrity".

    He has railed against racism, by denouncing the "bulk of the population" for succumbing to the "malignancies of fear and bigotry spreading through the body politic".

    He has opposed One Nation, by condemning the one million Australians who voted for it as losers who were upset only because "their kids don't do what they tell them, because they've got weight problems, because their husband or wife doesn't love them any more".

    He has campaigned for a republic, by telling us "it's time for Australia to grow up" and stop acting like a "yelping puppy".

    See? It's as the man himself admits: "I love Australia but I don't like it." It's a sentence of which only the second half rings true.

    In fact, Phillip never seems happier than when accusing most of his fellow citizens of craven immorality, a self-congratulatory habit shared by most commentators of the Left.

    So why do they want so much to despise Australians that they believe even in something so unlikely as the "stolen generations"?

    One reason may be as black conservative writer Thomas Sowell put it: "Policies are judged by their consequences, but crusades are judged by how good they make the crusaders feel."

    And aggressively atheist Phillip and his kind mount their crusades in which the invariable rule is to feel good by calling everyone else, and our society, evil. But smarter Labor thinkers are at last realising it does them no good to have their party so influenced by people with such a smug contempt for voters and for Australia.

    So Labor's then leader, Kim Beazley, told Phillip over lunch two years ago he was tired of people like him whingeing so over boat people.

    "To my astonishment, the nice Kim Beazley wasn't nice at all," Phillip confessed last month in his column in The Australian.

    "He dismissed (us) as the 'chattering classes'." Indeed, Phillip has even said Beazley "told me he'd rather talk to a dozen striking unionists at a factory gate than a thousand of the chatterers." And good.

    Labor frontbencher Mark Latham, tipped as a future Labor leader, also savages Phillip now, calling him "pompous and out of touch", a "millionaire" who never "talks about the practical reform of bad schools, public housing or the health system". He claims Phillip prefers the "politics of pettiness" and an "abstract style of debate" that prefers the empty "symbolism of an Aboriginal treaty" to a "suburban Labor agenda".

    Hurt, Phillip last week wailed that his "crime" was "to hold soppy, old-fashioned views on issues such as asylum-seekers".

    But the failings of this otherwise gifted and charming man go deeper, as I realised from one of his letters to me, in which he complained I'd got his history as a communist wrong.

    "I was not a member of the Communist Party for 14 years," he snapped.

    "Try 14 months. I joined that fine organisation when I was 16 and was expelled when I was 17."

    I wondered how I'd got this so wrong, and soon discovered my mistake. As I wrote back, "I have no excuse -- I relied on a notoriously and wildly inaccurate source . . . Phillip Adams".

    It was Phillip himself who'd written six years ago how he'd left the communists "after the crushing of the Prague Spring" in 1968, having joined "in 1954, at the ripe old age of 15".

    He'd added then that he couldn't "recall whether I resigned or was expelled". To have resigned from the communists in disgust, of course, would have looked more heroic.

    THAT'S how I see Phillip -- a man in love with the romance of a story, and to hell with facts that might ruin it. A man who insists the cat really does sit on the mat, because sofa doesn't rhyme. Who still insists, overlooking all the bodies and lies, that the communists had a "fine" party.

    And I also see him as a man who, like so many in our secular cultural elite, still needs a cause that enables him to feel and to publicly demonstrate, to the amens of fellow believers, that he really is good -- much like a Catholic needs a Mass, or a socialist a rally.

    It's just a pity that the form of worship preferred by Phillip and this elite demands that the rest of us be damned to hell as sinners. And to hell with Labor and the ABC, too.



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