What Next for Turnbull?

Turnbull’s decision to go all-in over OzCar on the basis of a single email is now clearly recognised as one of the greatest all-time blunders in Australian political history. He was just too eager; he fell for the oldest of all human flaws — wishful thinking.

In fable terms, Turnbull’s character is the Lion — brave, bold and brilliant. But he does not seem to have about him an Old Fox to stay his hand. An Old Fox would have been whispering that it would be unwise to read to much into the email, unwise to bet everything on Grech, unwise to rush in. In such situations there’s more to be made from innuendo. More to be made from playing “small stack poker”.

I am no Fox and no Lion, but I imagine that at this point a Fox would tell Turnbull to take it on the chin and quit. The great man who fails greatly can still be great. But to deny your own mistakes, when they are plain for all to see, will hamstring you forever.

If Turnbull quits, he has a chance to come back in future, having taken his lumps. If he stays on, the electorate will do to him and Liberals what he cannot do to himself.

Quitting in disgrace and returning in triumph is as old as politics. There are swings and roundabouts; there are tides in the affairs of men. Turnbull’s tide is ebbing, and he should follow it out to sea for a while. Otherwise he will be stranded on the unyielding rock of government intransigence, under the unforgiving sun of an unamused electorate.

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