I think you’ll agree that Don Trump cares a lot about how he presents and how people see him.

He always likes to look well-groomed and presidential. You can tell when he’s in presidential mode because he looks grim, even if he is doing nothing and speaking nonsense. It’s all about the appearance for him.

No. I don’t think good leadership is about optics. The Duke of Wellington never cared about appearance or relating to the troops or even letting them know what he was doing. He despised them. But they adored him, calling him “the long-nosed bugger that beats the French.”

And Wellington is one of the great British leaders.

Leadership is about getting the job done by others. Scomo is doing well in leading the national response to the coronavirus. We have a Commonwealth Department of Health, Chief Medical Officer and so on. Scomo isn’t a doctor nor a scientist, but he has plenty of talent on call, and he has been letting them do the work. He leads the National Cabinet, made up of the Australian heads of government and officers with relevant responsibilities.

But you want him to be leading a Commonwealth firefighting team. There is no National Fire Service, no Chief Firefighter, no Commonwealth Department of Fire. He has nothing to do with firefighting, but you want him boots on the ground doing stuff. Telling the States how to run their own emergency services, perhaps?

When the time came for disaster relief — something the Commonwealth actually does — he was there on the ground, but I think I heard some criticism from you over his performance there?

Australia burned. Right. You’re still here, I’m still here, all of our cities are still here. We both sucked in a bit of smoke, but that’s about it.

Unprecedented. Right. You and I are both Victorians. We remember the Black Saturday fires of 2009, yeah? 173 deaths in Victoria. How many in the current bushfire season? 33, Australia-wide.

I see no problem in ScoMo taking a holiday in the holiday season. He wasn’t heading up any emergency service. Christine Nixon was. Scomo returned to supervise disaster relief which was his job.

I’m not terribly concerned about the various stories put about by partisan sources. America is full of them at the moment, with one extreme saying heavily armed right wing looters are destroying the cities, and the other extreme saying its Antifa terrorists. Right.

Stories spread by fringe elements are there to infect the ignorant. There are always going to be people spinning the news to their own benefit, and a lot of the time it’s just ignorant nonsense.

But it’s all about the optics.

As for education, from my point of view, it’s not about pouring knowledge in and expecting wisdom. It’s about showing the way and letting the student find and use the wisdom already there.

The Constitution is the basis for the Commonwealth government. Read through it, please — and if you do that, you’ll be a step ahead of about 90% of Australians. The powers are covered in Sections 51 and 52, which include specific powers, powers referred by the States, and incidental powers. Section 61 contains the executive power, which is horribly misunderstood, but allows the Commonwealth to make laws, spend money, and take action for national enterprises and whatever remains of the ancient royal prerogative. Making treaties, for example.

Where are bushfires mentioned?

The Commonwealth spends a bit of money through the national bushfire coordination agency — executive power — and puts a lot of effort into the disaster relief role of the Defence Force — incidental power — and paying allowances to those affected — social security etc. All those are business as usual for the Commonwealth, and all of those were adequately overseen and managed by the Commonwealth this year and every other year.

But there isn’t a national fire service, because the States don’t want to give up their own services, and nobody has ever argued that we should have a Commonwealth Fire Brigade to duplicate or supersede the State efforts. Apart from yourself, apparently.

As for Tony Abbott, he was a member of his local NSW volunteer fire brigade and as such fought fires in Sydney and elsewhere in NSW.

It’s easy to repeat partisan stories about events where one has no involvement, and the force or direction underscores one’s own biases. But that’s not wisdom.

Wisdom involves finding the facts and presenting those.

Here’s another book for you: Truth, by Tom Phillips (subtitled A Brief History of Bullshit). Well worth reading.

May I suggest that facts should trump optics and not the other way around?

Britni, who apparently got way too much theory of government in university

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